Minnesota's Lakes and Rivers
My cars' license plate says "10,000 Lakes", but there are many more, and the number is growing. In fact, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, we have 11,842 lakes with 10 acres or more, 6,564 natural rivers and streams, and over 9.3 million acres of wetlands. Our deepest inland lake is the Portsmouth Mine Pit near Crosby, MN at 450 feet deep and rising. The old open pit mine is still filling up with water, and I suspect, it is home to a species or two of trout.
We here in Minnesota have a great lifestyle rooted strongly in our environment. We learn to fish, swim, drive a boat, paddle a canoe and portage. When young we are drawn to the lakes and when we grow older we yearn to return, as it is a place of centeredness. The high-tech world of cell phones and business fades into the background after a day on the water.
I have traveled a bit in Minnesota, fished and boated on many of the lakes and some of the rivers (6,564 rivers, I had no idea untill I started researching, I need to get out more), and I have been swimming in as many as I could tolerate, including Lake Superior which is never what you would call warm. There is an expanse of northeastern Minnesota that is seemingly, an endless series of interlocking lakes and streams, called The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) where motors are not allowed and quiet is king. At times in the BWCAW you can go days without seeing other people.
If you prefer the convenience of a powered boat, or even a houseboat, there is the Voyageurs National Park to the west of the BWCAW. There you can put in and find an island campsite, fish and swim, boat for days on end. Jet skis were banned several years ago, but most of the state still allows them. Cell phones are allowed, they just don't work there. The northernmost town in the lower 48 states is Angle Inlet, MN on Lake of the Woods. You can get there by boat or plane, or through Canada! Check it out.
The largest and deepest lake Minnesota claims is Lake Superior, in the northeast, with 962,700 acres within Minnesota alone (20.3 million acres total), and a depth of 1,290 feet. If you put a boat in this lake you want a marine radio to track the weather. Superior is home to many shipwrecks! Even here in the St. Cloud area we have several nice lakes a short drive away. Mille Lacs Lake is the biggest in the area about an hour away, and about 6 mile across, with great walleye fishing in summer and winter. A number of lakes within 30 minutes of home have good fishing and some have public beaches, including Middle Spunk, Avon and Warner Lake, Clearwater. We live about a mile from the Mississippi River, and just over near St. Cloud State University , you can fish the river anytime you want. I also take our dog Molly there for a swim whenever we have the time. The Mississippi River runs 680 miles in Minnesota, winding it's way through much of the state.
All told we have 69,200 miles of rivers and streams in Minnesota, with 589 miles of that classified as wild and scenic river. The total of lakes, rivers, and wetlands in Minnesota adds up to over 13 million acres, almost 10% of our total state area, with over 3,000 public lake access points and 4,257 canoe routes. We have 800,000 registered watercraft. Yes, where ever you live in Minnesota, you are near a lake or a river, so relax and enjoy the water.