Minnesota Lakes and Rivers

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Minnesota lakes and rivers sparkling, sky-blue, waters provide many of the recreational opportunities for which our state is famous.

We love our water sports that include canoeing, kayaking, fishing, boating, sailing, water-skiing and scuba diving....just to name a few.

One lake, Lake Superior, and one river, the Mississippi, are the two most famous bodies of water in Minnesota.

A lake is the landscape's most beautiful and expressive feature.

It is earth's eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.
~Henry David Thoreau

A river seems a magic thing. A magic, moving, living part of the earth itself.
~Laura Gilpin

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The Big Lake and The Big River

Lake Superior, the greatest of the Great Lakes is known as our "inland sea." The North Shore area provides a wealth of recreational opportunity.

The Mississippi River, born in Itasca State Park in northern Minnesota, is the mythic river that travels the length of our nation to the Gulf of Mexico.

Photo courtesy of Tom Heuerman

Enjoy Minnesota Lakes and Rivers

Minnesota resorts and lodges are located on some of our most beautiful lakes and cater to vacationers who want to swim, boat, canoe, kayak lie in the sun or build sand castles on the beach.

Our abundant water resource is a huge part of what makes Minnesota's State Parks so attractive and so much fun!

For many people, Minnesota's fishing lakes are the primary attraction. There are hundreds of lake resorts in Minnesota that cater to the needs of fishermen (and women) and offer guided trips to the best fishing spots. 

In many states, with more limited water resources, it can be hard to find a way to be on or near a lake. In Minnesota, lake property is still abundant. Whether you want a place near the water to stay for a week or for the summer, or even if you want to build a home on a lake, you can realize your dream.

Get a copy of Fishing Minnesota: Angling with the Experts in the Land of 10,000 Lakes

Experience Wilderness Waterways

Experience the wilder side of Minnesota's lakes and rivers by planning a vacation in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Remote areas of Voyageurs National Park offer similar experiences without some of the restrictions. And, The Superior National Forest offers spectacular, though often over-looked, lakes and rivers.

Minnesota Lakes

10,000 Lakes, is That Possible?

Actually, Minnesota has 11,842 lakes that are greater than 10 acres in size. Entire areas of the state are defined by the recreational opportunities offered by Minnesota lakes and rivers.If you are not familiar with Minnesota, how can you choose a lakeside vacation spot among so many possibilities? As a starting point, some of our most popular lakes are:

The Minnesota DNR offers a lake finder and Minnesota lake maps to help you decide which lakes are the best choice for your Minnesota visit. And this site offers a comprensive list of Minnesota fishing lakes by county.

DNR Information about Minnesota Lakes

Minnesota vacations, in any part of our state, will offer you the opportunity to enjoy our Minnesota lakes and rivers.

Almost all Minnesota State Parks are on a lake.

Minnesota lakes names - The most popular name for a Minnesota lake is Mud Lake. Some other lake names include Hole In The Day, Ball Club, Bad Medicine, Big Spunk, Hanging Horn, Height Of Land, Ice Cracking, Pome de Terre, Spider, and Stalker.

Several Minnesota lakes are named for women: Lake Lida, Lake Lizzie, and Woman Lake. Lake with male names include Man Lake and Boy Lake.

Minnesota Rivers

Minnesota rivers and streams are our Minnesota water trails that offer thousands of miles of scenic canoeing & kayaking. More than 30 water trails flow through more than 4000 river miles of Minnesota. You will find these "highways" of recreation in all parts of the state.

Some of Minnesota's major rivers include:

  • The Mississippi River source is at Lake Itasca; the river winds for approximately 681.3 miles through Minnesota.
  • The Minnesota River is a tributary of the Mississippi River. It travels approximately 332 miles of Minnesota's landscape.
  • The St. Croix River is also a tributary of the Mississippi River. Approximately 164 miles lie within Minnesota's borders; the lower 125 miles of the river form the state line between Wisconsin and Minnesota.

There are several places in Minnesota where you can take Mississippi river boat cruises.

DNR Information about Minnesota Rivers

Minnesota's lakes and rivers provide winter scenery and winter recreation. Lake Superior is a popular destination in winter and the views of the great lake's ice formations attracts photographers from around the world. 

Sailing Women on Yachts: Learn about sailing from a women’s point of view and how we deal with different issues and challenges.

Minnesota Lakes and Rivers Related Pages:

Minnesota Water Trails

Minnesota Rivers

Mississippi River Facts

Mississippi River Boat Cruises

Lake Superior Facts

Lake Superior North Shore

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