Van Etten Lake, Michigan, USA

Welcome to the ultimate guide to Van Etten Lake — things to do, where to stay, fun facts, history, stats and more. Let’s dive in!

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All About Van Etten Lake

Ice huts dot the frozen surface of Van Etten Lake in northeast Michigan. Inside the huts anglers sip thermoses of coffee and pull strings of perch from the icy water. The 1,409-acre lake has been providing visitors with four seasons of recreation opportunities for over a hundred years and the area’s native people with food and fish for far longer than that. With its fish-filled waters set against the backdrop of state and national forests, Van Etten Lake is destined to become a favorite Michigan getaway.

The Pine River is the primary inflow of Van Etten Lake. Van Etten Creek is the lake’s main outflow, and the creek goes on to meet the Scenic AuSable River before flowing on into Lake Huron. A dam, whose construction pre-dates 1922, controls water levels at Van Etten Lake’s outlet and is managed by the Iosco County Drain Commission. Van Etten Lake is part of the Pine River – Van Etten Lake (PRVEL) Watershed. The PRVEL Coalition was created in 2005 to protect the watershed which encompasses 282 square miles in Iosco and Alcona Counties.

Van Etten Lake has a maximum depth of 25 feet and an average depth of 14 feet. It is considered a warm water fishery, and anglers can expect to find healthy populations of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and northern pike. Crappie and rainbow trout can also be found in the lake, and the Michigan DNR stocks Van Etten Lake with walleye. The western side of Loud Island, Van Etten’s large island, is a particular favorite with anglers.

Access to the lake for boating and waterskiing is from public boat launches including one in the Van Etten State Forest Campground. The campground also has trails for hiking and ORV use. The lake is near the Huron National Forest. Established in 1909 and combined with the Manistee National Forest in 1945, the Huron – Manistee National Forest covers almost a million acres. Trails for horseback riding and hiking cross the forest, and there are places for camping. The national forest includes a 23 mile long section of the AuSable River and a 26 mile long section of the Pine River, both of which are designated National Scenic Rivers. The Pine River is favored by kayakers and has a section of light rapids, and the AuSable River offers spectacular scenery best seen from a canoe.

The Tuttle Marsh National Wildlife Area, a short drive from Van Etten Lake, is a fantastic place to see wildlife and waterfowl. The wildlife area encompasses 4,100 acres and is home to teals, golden eyes, herons and mallards. Hunting is allowed in season, and large herds of deer can by found during the winter.

Van Etten Lake is just a few miles from Lake Huron. Visitors to the Great Lake can charter a boat or enjoy the sand beach on the shore of Lake Huron. Water recreation opportunities are almost limitless, and in the winter trail for skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling round out the fun. Van Etten Lake borders the town of Oscoda which has restaurants, shops and a variety of accommodations. Lakefront vacation rentals and real estate for sale are also available on the lake. The Wurtsmith Air Force Base borders Van Etten Lake’s western shore. The air force base was decommissioned is 1992, but a museum onsite documents the base’s role from World War II through Desert Storm.

With its fish-filled water and beautiful surrounding countryside, Van Etten Lake is sure to become a favorite outdoor destination. Add the thousands of acres of water in Lake Huron and miles of scenic rivers, and the water recreation choices are endless. Van Etten Lake in Iosco County promises an unforgettable northeast Michigan vacation.

Things to Do at Van Etten Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Hiking
  • Snowmobiling
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • State Forest
  • National Forest
  • Museum

Fish Species Found at Van Etten Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Trout
  • Walleye

Find Places to Stay at Van Etten Lake

If you’re considering a Van Etten Lake lake house rental or hotel, we’ve made it super easy to find the best rates and compare vacation accommodations at a glance. Save time using this interactive map below.

Recommended Sites to Book a Van Etten Lake Vacation

If you want to take a deeper dive to find waterfront lake cabins, cottages, condos, hotels or resorts, check out our favorite Van Etten Lake lodging partners.

  • VRBO – Use VRBO to find the perfect lake rental home, condo, cabin, cottage or other vacation property.
  • – One of the world’s leading digital travel companies, connects travelers to everything from cozy B&Bs to luxury resorts.
  • Expedia – Expedia is a popular online travel agency with more than 140,000 lodging properties worldwide.
  • – With more than 325,000 hotels in 19,000-plus locations, is an industry leader in online accommodations.
  • TripAdvisor – Read traveler reviews and compare prices on hotels, vacation rentals and more at TripAdvisor.
  • Trivago – Trivago helps travelers compare deals for hotels and other accommodations from a variety of booking sites.
  • KAYAK – KAYAK scours hundreds of other travel websites at once to find the best deals on hotels and other travel-related services.
  • RVshare –RVshare connects travelers interested in renting a motorhome with owners who have RVs to rent.
  • CampSpot – Campspot offers premier RV resorts, family campgrounds, cabins and glamping options across North America.

Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.

Van Etten Lake Statistics & Helpful Links


Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: Iosco County Drain Commision

Surface Area: 1,409 acres

Shoreline Length: 10 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 587 feet

Average Depth: 14 feet

Maximum Depth: 25 feet

Water Residence Time: 45 Days

Drainage Area: 282 sq. miles

We strive to keep the information on LakeLubbers as accurate as possible. However, if you’ve found something in this article that needs updating, we’d certainly love to hear from you! Please fill out our Content Correction form.

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