Wisconsin is home to thousands of lakes, often pitted against Minnesota, known as the ‘Land of 10,000 Lakes’. With thousands of lakes to explore at the Badger’s State, boating becomes a popular activity next to fishing. In this post, I listed 8 of the best lakes for boating in Wisconsin, which will kick start your lake-hopping tour in the state. See which one you like to visit first!
1. Lake Winnebago
Lake Winnebago in Fond du Lac County is a massive, 131,939-acre lake with a shallow depth of 21 feet. It has a total of 20 boat landings where visitors can launch their vessels.
If you plan to go boat fishing, you’ll be treated to a large population of northern pike, walleye, and perch. This place is also popular for sturgeon.
Since this lake is massive, the place won’t feel too cramped during peak season, especially while on the water. This is the largest inland lake in Wisconsin, which makes a great start for lake-hopping.
Aside from that, this lake is only an hour away from Madison City, which gives you easy access to all the best things the state can offer. You can also visit the public beach on this lake if you want to swim and relax.
2. Lake Mendota
Located north of Madison City, Lake Mendota boasts 9,781 acres of cruise-worthy waters. It’s smaller than Lake Winnebago but far from tiny. It has a maximum depth of 83 feet with 10 boat landings and 7 beaches for you to visit.
Aside from that, Lake Mendota is surrounded by residential areas and condominiums. The area is well developed, but it doesn’t spoil the beauty of the lake.
Boat fishing is a popular activity in Lake Mendota, so expect many anglers during peak season. They are competing to catch the largest pike, bass, musky, and panfish from the lake.
If you want to take a break from boating, you can rest at the Governor Nelson State Park on the lake’s northwest side. It has an 8-mile trail together with picnic areas and a playground for kids.
3. Minocqua Lake
Minocqua Lake is a small 1,339-acre lake with a maximum depth of 60 feet. It’s located in Oneida County adjacent to Kawaguesaga Lake. It has four boat landings: Stack’s Bay Landing, boat ramp in Park St., access at Cedar St., and access off Menominee St. It’s popular to boat anglers who love fishing musky, largemouth bass, and panfish.
Take note that Minocqua Lake tends to be crowded during summer and winter. During summer, boaters, swimmers, and anglers flock to the area, while skiers go here during winter once the lake freezes.
If you’re planning a staycation, you can book a cabin rental or a stay in one of the resorts near the lake. Accommodation is easy to get by here, although it’s quite far from Madison City.
The month of May is probably the best time to visit Minocqua Lake due to the lower accommodation rates. Fall is also a good time since the place is quieter and the rates are at their lowest.
4. Lake Monona
Lake Monona is located in Madison City, the capital of Wisconsin. This is a 3,359-acre freshwater with a depth of 74 feet. It’s home to five boat landings with access in Olbrich Park, Olin Park, Willy/Blair Street, nearby Winnequah Trail, and Tonyawatha Park Boat Ramp.
This lake has a picturesque view of the capitol dome when you’re on the water. It’s also a great place to watch the sunset or go boating, kayaking, fishing, or simply enjoying the atmosphere at a park bench.
Aside from that, Lake Monona’s shores stretch to 18 parks. After boating, you can also hike, bike, and walk on its long trails. You can also check out the seven public beaches along the lake, which is a big hit during summer.
Trivia: American singer Otis Redding died after his private plane crashed on Lake Monona on December 10, 1967.
5. Lake Geneva
Lake Geneva is another lake located in Madison City. This lake has more than 5,000 acres of water surface where boaters, anglers, and swimmers alike will have a great time.
This lake has six boat landings that you can access in Lake Street, Wrigley Drive, and Williams Bay. The other three are located along Hillside Road, Chapin Road, and Linn Road. Aside from that, there are 6 beaches along the lake for the public to enjoy.
For boat fishing, expect an abundance of smallmouth bass in Lake Geneva. You can also chance upon some panfishes, pikes, and walleyes.
Overall, Lake Geneva is one of the most pristine lakes in the state. It’s surrounded by a few establishments and lush greenery. The fall colors of the trees also give Lake Geneva a postcard-worthy vibe.
6. Green Lake
Green Lake has a 7,920-acre stretch and a maximum depth of 236 feet. This is one of the deepest lakes in the state and is home to eight boat landings and three beaches.
Moreover, the boat landings can be accessed in Hattie Sherwood Park, Canal Street, Deacon Mills Park, and Horners Landing. The other four are located in Sunset Park, Beyers Cove, County Park, and Duering’s Landing.
The Green Lake has a sizeable population of trout, smallmouth bass, and catfish. Anglers can also catch pike and walleye on its waters.
If you’re planning to go boating, consider renting at Action Marina. They have pontoon boats, ski boats, and other watercrafts available. And when you get hungry, make sure to dine at Norton’s located at Lawson Drive.
7. Namekagon Lake
The Namekagon Lake is 2,897 acres with a maximum depth of 51 feet. It has seven boat landings you can access at Squaw Bend Bridge, Nr Cth M, Missionary Point Lane, and US Highway 63. The rest can be located at Funnys Lane, County Highway, and Telemark Road.
Moreover, Namekagon Lake is located right in the middle of Chequamegon National Forest. This is why it has such a picturesque view, especially during sunset.
The area also has a share of rich wildlife presence and fish population, including pike, panfish, musky, and walleye. Aside from fishing, you can also canoe and kayak around the lake.
8. Elkhart Lake
Elkhart Lake is popular for its clear blue-green waters surrounded by lush greenery. This is quite a small lake for just 292 acres but with a maximum depth of 119 feet. There’s only one boat landing here you can access at Nr Cth P.
Anglers are fond of the lake’s massive smallmouth bass population. You can also hook bass, musky, and panfish here, especially if you’re fishing from a boat.
Elkhart Lake is also popular for ecology tours, paddle boarding, and swimming. Overall, the place has a peaceful vibe, perfect for family visits or a quiet respite away from the city.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the clearest lake in Wisconsin?
A: The Black Oak Lake is considered one of the clearest lakes in the state of Wisconsin. It spans 564 acres with a depth of 85 feet. Since it’s clear and clean, the Black Oak Lake is a favorite among anglers and boaters alike.
Q: What is the deepest lake in Wisconsin?
A: The Green Lake in Green Lake County is considered the deepest lake in Wisconsin, with a maximum depth of 237 feet. It also boasts a 27-mile shoreline, which is frequented by boaters, swimmers, and anglers. Take note that Green Lake gets crowded during summer, so always consider the timing of your visit.
Q: Does Wisconsin really have 15,000 lakes?
A: This debate has been going on ever since the Wisconsin Tourism department claimed that the state has over 15,000 freshwater lakes. But if we are to apply Minnesota’s criteria for a body of water to be considered a ‘lake’, Wisconsin will only have roughly 5,800 lakes. This is far from the whopping 15,000 lakes claim of Former State Tourism Secretary Sara Meaney.
Q: Where can I canoe in Madison, Wisconsin?
A: Some of the best canoe launches in Madison are located in B.B. Clarke Beach Park, Esther Beach Park, Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park, and the Brittingham Park. You can also explore other lakes nearby like Lake Monona, Lake Mendota, and Lake Wingra.
Q: How deep is the Big Green Lake in Wisconsin?
A: The Big Green Lake is a 7,920-acre body of water with a maximum depth of 236 feet. It’s surrounded by multiple boat launches, fishing areas, and other amenities. Aside from that, this lake is home to a large population of smallmouth bass, catfish, and trout.
Visiting the best lakes for boating in Wisconsin is both a relaxing and fun experience. There are thousands of lakes in the state, so the eight I listed here are just a sneak peek of what you can expect. Whatever lake you’re planning to visit, make sure that you call the authorities first to inquire about the availability.
What do you think of these Wisconsin lakes? Share your thoughts below!