Lakes, rivers, and wetlands facts


Minnesota's waters flow outward in three directions:
North to Hudson Bay in Canada
East to the Atlantic Ocean
South to the Gulf of Mexico

Voyageurs National Park in northern Minnesota is the largest water-based park in the National Park System.

By the numbers

Counties with no natural lakes:
Mower, Olmsted, Pipestone, Rock

Number of lakes:
11,842 (10+ acres)

Number of natural rivers and streams:
6,564 (69,200 miles)

Wetlands acreage present in 1850:
18.6 million acres

Wetlands acreage present in 2008:
10.6 million acres


Ten most common lake names:
Mud, Long, Rice, Bass, Round, Horseshoe, Twin, Island, Johnson, Spring


Deepest inland lake:
Portsmouth Mine Pit near Crosby (450 feet and rising)

Deepest natural lake:
Lake Saganaga, Cook County (240 feet deep)

Depths of other lakes:

NameCountyMaximum Depth
Lake Superior--1,290 feet
Ten MileCass209 feet
Lower LaSalleHubbard204 feet
Loon LakeCook202 feet
RainySt. Louis161 feet
LeechCass150 feet
CassBeltrami / Cass120 feet
Otter TailOtter Tail120 feet
MinnetonkaHennepin113 feet
VermillionSt. Louis76 feet
WinnibigoshishCass70 feet
Mille LacsMille Lacs42 feet
Upper RedBeltrami18 feet


Size and length

Ten largest lakes (entire lake within borders of Minnesota):

  1. Red Lake (both "Upper" and "Lower") - 288,800 acres
  2. Mille Lacs Lake - 132,516 acres
  3. Leech Lake - 111,527 acres
  4. Lake Winnibigoshish - 58,544 acres
  5. Lake Vermilion - 40,557 acres
  6. Lake Kabetogama - 25,760 acres
  7. Mud Lake (Marshall County) - 23,700 acres
  8. Cass Lake - 15,596
  9. Lake Minnetonka - 14,004 acres
  10. Otter Tail Lake - 13,725 acres

Largest border lakes:
Lake Superior (20,364,800 acres total with 962,700 acres in Minnesota)
Lake of the Woods (950,400 acres total with 307,010 acres in Minnesota)

Longest shoreline:
Lake Vermilion, St. Louis County (290 miles of shoreline)

Minnesota River length:
370 miles

Mississippi River length in Minnesota:
680 miles

State and national Wild and Scenic Rivers:
589 miles

Total Area Covered by Lakes and Rivers (deep water):
2,560,299 acres

Total surface water area including wetlands:
13,136,357 acres

(Reviewed 2013)