Lake Mendota, Wisconsin, USA
Also known as: Yahara Chain of Lakes
Sometimes called the “City of 4 Lakes,” Madison in Dane County is the capital of Wisconsin and its second largest city. Its “Lake, City, Lake” trademark is very appropriate. Madison sits on an isthmus – a narrow strip of land connecting two larger bodies of land bordered on two sides by water. In Madison’s case Lake Monona is on one side and Lake Mendota is on the…
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Welcome to the ultimate guide to Lake Mendota! Article topics include:
- All About Lake Mendota
- Where to Stay
- Vacation Planning Tools
- Things to Do
- Known Fish Species
- Lake Mendota Map
- Statistics / Weather / Helpful Links
- Lake Mendota Gifts
Looking for Lake Mendota cabins or other accommodations? Save time and use this interactive map to find, compare and book at the best rates. Or explore more of our favorite travel partners.
All About Lake Mendota, WI
Sometimes called the “City of 4 Lakes,” Madison in Dane County is the capital of Wisconsin and its second largest city. Its “Lake, City, Lake” trademark is very appropriate. Madison sits on an isthmus – a narrow strip of land connecting two larger bodies of land bordered on two sides by water. In Madison’s case Lake Monona is on one side and Lake Mendota is on the other. Lake Waubesa and Lake Kegonsa are the other two lakes that make up the Yahara chain of lakes near the city.
At six miles long and four miles wide, Lake Mendota is the largest of the four lakes. In fact its name is Chippewa for “large” or “great.” Lake Mendota is a natural lake, but it was dammed. In 1847 Teney Dam was built and raised the lake’s water levels about four and a half feet. For most of the 19th century the dam was part of a grist mill. Today the dam, spillway, and boat lock are owned by Madison and Dane County. The lake is managed by the Land and Water Resources Department and freezes by Christmas.
There are rowing clubs, marina, and boat launches on Lake Mendota and plenty of room for sailing, canoeing, and water skiing. Anglers will find healthy populations of walleye, northern pike, and muskie along with crappie and large and small mouth bass. Governor Nelson State Park on the northern shore of Lake Mendota has a sand beach for swimming, several boat launches and over 18 miles of hiking and cross country skiing trails.
Visitors to Lake Mendota can enjoy all the amenities and cultural advantages of Madison. The University of Wisconsin-Madison sits on the shores of the lake. Madison was also the boyhood home of Frank Lloyd Wright who designed several buildings in the area. The Olbrich Botanical Gardens, named one of the top 10 inspiring gardens by Horticulture Magazine, is in Madison. With 16 acres of outdoor gardens and the tropical paradise of the Bolz Conservatory, it is sure to delight visitors.
With its expansive waters and even more expansive recreation opportunities, Lake Mendota will please any visitor, and it’s sure to be the perfect Wisconsin getaway.
Things to Do at Lake Mendota
These are some activities in the Lake Mendota, WI area visitors can enjoy:
- Vacation Rentals
- Water Skiing
- Cross-Country Skiing
- State Park
What Kind of Fish Are in Lake Mendota?
Lake Mendota has been known to have the following fish species:
- Northern Pike
- Smallmouth Bass
Find Places to Stay at Lake Mendota
If you’re considering a Lake Mendota lake house rental or hotel, we’ve made it super easy to find the best rates and compare vacation accommodations at a glance. Save time using this interactive map below.
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More Sites to Book a Lake Mendota Vacation
Our interactive Lake Mendota lodging map above is an easy tool for comparing VRBO rental homes and nearby hotels with Booking.com, but there could be times when you need to expand your search for different types of accommodations. Here are some other lake lodging partners we recommend:
Lake Mendota Statistics & Helpful Links
Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed
Water Level Control: Land And Water Resources Department
Surface Area: 9,842 acres
Shoreline Length: 22 miles
Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 848 feet
Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 847 feet
Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 853 feet
Average Depth: 41 feet
Maximum Depth: 82 feet
Water Volume: 389,000 acre-feet
Completion Year: 1847
Water Residence Time: 4.5 years
Lake Area-Population: 223,389
Drainage Area: 250 sq. miles
Trophic State: Eutrophic
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