The Spectator

Wisconsin vs. Minnesota: Lakes

Story by Breann Schossow and Ashley Krautkramer

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story


Rumor has it that Wisconsin has more lakes than Minnesota. After extensive fact checking, I was disappointed to learn that this is indeed true – by several thousand or so. But, there’s a reason Minnesota is the land of lakes, and Wisconsin is, well, not.

First off, the title itself rolls of the tongue better when paired with Minnesota – and, our license plates that brag about are lakes are prettier.

Second, all but four of the counties in Minnesota have at least one natural lake – and those that don’t make their own. So, it’s not for lack of trying that the state doesn’t have more lakes. And, as so often is in life, bigger is not always better. Quality is what is truly desired.

So, Wisconsin, you may have more water – but, tourism deems that Minnesota’s is better. -BS


If Minnesota is the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” then Wisconsin is the “Land of more lakes than Minnesota.”

Wisconsin boasts over 15,000 lakes within the state and an estimated 1017 miles of shore along the Great Lakes. Minnesota, on the other hand, can only tout exposure to one of the Great Lakes and their trademark 10,000 lakes within the state.

Aside from the number of lakes, there is a huge disparity between the amount of water in general in each state. Wisconsin is over 17% water by area, while Minnesota is only about 8%. Wisconsin’s lakes win out beneath the surface, too. Wisconsin’s deepest lake is almost 30 feet deeper than Minnesota’s.

Whether your activity of choice is swimming, boating or fishing, there are over 5,000 more lakes to choose from in Wisconsin. -AK

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

7 Responses to “Wisconsin vs. Minnesota: Lakes”

  1. Ron on January 19th, 2014 7:09 pm

    Wisconsin has more “lakes”……the problem with that is this. Most of Wisconsin’s inland lakes are about 4 acres in size. Minnesota doesn’t consider a body of water a lake if it is under 10 acres in size. If Minnesota used the same criteria, Minnesota could claim to have way more than 20,000 lakes. If Wisconsin used Minnesota’s criteria, Wisconsin would have only about 6,000 lakes.
    Also…..the eight largest inland lakes in Minnesota have more surface area than all of Wisconsin’s 15,000 “lakes” combined.

    So it’s pretty ridiculous and far-fetched to say that Wisconsin has more lakes!

  2. kirby on March 20th, 2016 7:51 am

    Minnesota has more area of inland water than any other state. the closest rival is Michigan and they count parts of three Great Lakes in their total. the Minnesota Wisconsin rivalry is extremely friendly. it’s just those silly American football fans that make is serious.

  3. Tiffany on May 12th, 2018 6:20 pm

    Nope not in 2017. They found lakes that have been discovered in Minnesota.

    Wisconsin. Has 15,074 lakes
    Minnesota has 28,176 lakes

    So Minnesota still has wayyyyyy more lakes then Wisconsin does.

  4. Phil Olson on August 23rd, 2018 11:24 am

    Yeah. Find that a little ridiculous since satellite imagery has been around for more than 30 years. And MN was survived as a state in the early 1800’s Things that you read in the onion are not true. Even the north, south, and peak of every mountain top have been explored. I seriously doubt the mighty back woods of MN weren’t treked until 2017

  5. Kyle Mohr on September 26th, 2018 1:21 pm

    Unless USGS receives a specific request from the Minnesota government or the NFS, satellite imagery means absolutely nothing, it’s simply discarded or archived without human eyes ever laying on them (I work in the industry). Heck, one of the buildings I worked in had a pond next to it that was never mapped or recorded until one of the guys Google Earthed it and went about an eighth of a mile from the parking lot behind a bunch of trees and found it. Wasn’t even on the surveyor’s maps. This was 2016 and the building and surrounding area had been imaged over a hundred times.

  6. Jake Foth on January 18th, 2019 2:05 am

    Yes it is true if you use Wisconsin’s standard of a lake (4 acres) then Minnesota has give or take around 20,000. Although Wisconsin has closer to 7,000 lakes equal to or greater than 10 acre’s, but there is no way around the fact Minnesota has more lakes (though I would like to point out Wisconsin’s’ water territory of lake Michigan is 7358 square miles so that’s something…lol) Although Wisconsin can boast it’s rivers, Wisconsin has 84,000 river miles, to Minnesota’s 69,000 river miles

    Also who ever said that Minnesota’s largest lake is larger than all the lakes in Wisconsin combined is false. If your talking about “Lake of the Woods” well Minnesota shares that lake with 2 Canadian provinces ( Manitoba and Ontario) and if Minnesota gets to count their water territory of Lake of the Woods (lake of the woods is like 1600 sq miles but it’s split between Minnesota, Manitoba, and Ontario) then Wisconsin gets to count it’s Lake Michigan water territory of 7358 sq miles. If we are only counting lakes within state borders, Minnesota’s largest lake is Red Lake at 427 sq miles. The largest lake in Wisconsin then is Lake Winnebago at 230 sq miles, making Red Lake 197 sq miles larger. And I find it very unlikely that the rest of WI’s lakes combined are less than 197 sq miles

  7. Bill Lawson on January 24th, 2019 7:49 pm

    Florida has more Lakes than either Minnesota or Wisconsin has more Rivers has more water is a bigger State want me to go on guys?

The Spectator intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. Comments are expected to adhere to our standards and to be respectful and constructive. As such, we do not permit the use of profanity, foul language, personal attacks or the use of language that might be interpreted as libelous. Comments are reviewed and must be approved by a moderator to ensure that they meet these standards. The Spectator does not allow anonymous comments and requires a valid email address. The email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comments.

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.
Wisconsin vs. Minnesota: Lakes