How Many Lakes in Minnesota?

Minnesota is famously known as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes.” However, this number has been the subject of much debate and speculation over the years. In this article, we will delve into the history of Minnesota’s lake count and try to separate fact from fiction. How Many Lakes in Minnesota? Let’s find out!

Scroll to the bottom of this page or CLICK HERE to watch our travel video “How Many Lakes in Minnesota? Debunking the Myth of 10,000 Lakes”

Ok, we’re about to shock you! Everything you’ve ever heard about the Land of 10,000 Lakes…is a lie. Well, not really – just the fact that here in Minnesota we don’t really have 10,000 lakes.

Today we’re dropping a truth bomb! Minnesota is known as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” but in reality, it has more than 11,000 lakes that are over 10 acres in size!

I guess maybe “The Land of 10,000 Lakes” sounds better than “The Land of 11,842 Lakes”?

Actually, even that number – 11,842 – is just a guess because the exact number of lakes in Minnesota is difficult to determine. New ones are constantly being formed and old ones are disappearing due to natural processes like erosion and sedimentation. Additionally, the definition of a lake can vary, and there are many smaller bodies of water that some people might consider to be lakes, while others would not. Oh and the state also contains numerous rivers, streams, wetlands, and other aquatic habitats.

Nonetheless, the state of Minnesota is widely recognized as having a vast number of lakes, which are an important part of its natural landscape and cultural heritage.

Do you ever find yourself wondering…is Minnesota a good place to live? Read our pros and cons post from a local and find out now:

When did Minnesota become known as “Land of 10,000 Lakes”?

The exact origin of Minnesota’s nickname “Land of 10,000 Lakes” is not entirely clear, but it is believed to have been popularized in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by tourism promoters and other advocates for the state. The nickname is thought to have emerged as a way to highlight Minnesota’s natural beauty and abundance of water resources, which have played an important role in the state’s history and development.

Has anyone ever visited all the lakes in Minnesota?

It’s unlikely that anyone has ever visited all of the lakes in Minnesota, given their vast number and the logistical challenges of accessing and exploring them. While some people have undoubtedly visited a large number of Minnesota’s lakes, there are many remote and difficult-to-reach bodies of water that are rarely – if ever – visited by humans. Additionally, even some of the more accessible lakes can be difficult to explore in their entirety due to their size and complex shorelines.

Do You LOVE the Lake Life in Minnesota?

Why not show everyone? Here’s our fave picks for dressing like a true Minnesotan. Now you can celebrate the Land of 10,000 Lakes…and look cool while doing it!! Hehe…

What are the best lakes in Minnesota?

Minnesota has many beautiful lakes, and the “best” ones can depend on what activities you are interested in, as well as your personal preferences for scenery and ambiance. Here are a few notable lakes in Minnesota:

1. Lake Superior

The largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area, Lake Superior is a must-visit for its stunning vistas, rugged shoreline, and recreational opportunities.

2. Lake of the Woods

Located in northern Minnesota near the Canadian border, Lake of the Woods is a massive body of water with over 14,000 islands.

3. Lake Vermilion

This large, scenic lake in northeastern Minnesota is known for its crystal-clear waters and abundant wildlife.

4. Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

While not technically a single lake, the Boundary Waters is a vast wilderness area in northeastern Minnesota that contains over a million acres of pristine lakes and forests, ideal for canoeing, camping, and hiking.

5. Gull Lake

Located in central Minnesota near Brainerd, Gull Lake is a popular vacation spot with clear waters, sandy beaches, and numerous resorts and recreational activities.

6. Lake Minnetonka

Located just west of Minneapolis, Lake Minnetonka is a large, bustling lake that offers boating, fishing, and swimming opportunities, as well as numerous dining and shopping options along its shores.

These are just a few of the many beautiful lakes in Minnesota. There are many others worth exploring, each with their own unique charms and attractions. Many folks enjoy exploring Minnesota’s lakes and waterways, whether by boating, swimming, or simply admiring the scenery from shore. 


I hope you get a chance to explore the Land of 10,000 Lakes…oops, I mean the Land of 11,842 Lakes for yourself.

If you have a favorite Minnesota lake, let others know in the comments…it’s a great way for us all to learn more about our beautiful state.

Have a super day!

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About the Authors
Jack and Kitty Norton are Emmy Award winning travel experts. They have spent a lifetime on the road: as traveling musicians, documentary filmmakers and television producers. They now focus on writing for their travel blog ( and making fun videos for their YouTube channel. Jack and Kitty offer travelers fun and quirky things to do in Minnesota, the Midwest and beyond. High school sweethearts turned married soulmates, the couple lives in the small college town of Winona, Minnesota and would love to have you over for some hotdish.

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