Lake Winnebago is the largest lake in the State of Wisconsin at 215 square miles or 137,708 acres. It measures 28 miles long ,11 miles wide, and averages 15.5 feet with a maximum depth of 22 feet. The lake’s 88 miles of contrasting shorelines offer endless family fun and waterfront pleasure on a year round basis. A unique variety of lighthouses, harbors, parks, and entertainment hot spots highlight the area and lake recreation peaks during the months of summer. The cities of Fond du Lac, Oshkosh, Neenah, and Menasha border the south, west, and northern side of Lake Winnebago. The Eastern shoreline, often referred to as “the quiet side of the lake”, borders the Niagara Escarpment and offers panoramic views of the lake and surrounding communities.
As the largest lake of the Lake Winnebago System the lake connects by waterway to Lake Butte des Morts, Lake Winneconne, and Lake Poygan through a meandering river system. The 117 mile long Fox River and the 203 mile long Wolf River drain into the lake from the north and west. Because the general direction of the river is towards the northeast, the Fox is sometimes pointed to as one of the few North American rivers that flows north. As the lock and dam renovation projects continue up the river through the City of Appleton the future offerings of Lake Winnebago are endless. In the years ahead boating enthusiasts may once again venture even further and make way from Lake Winnebago, to Green Bay, the Great Lakes, and the world there after. Together, the two combined sections of the upper and lower Fox River will connect a staggering inland waterway of nearly 200 miles!
Shoreline characteristics of the lake vary from one location to the other. Some are irregular with a mixture of bays, peninsulas, channels, and reefs. While a portion of them offer walk-out entry to the lake the topography of others is rises above the lake where access via waterfront stairwells may be required. The bottom substrate of the lake is predominantly sand along nearly half of the shoreline with silt and gravel making up the majority of the rest. Sand bars and water depths vary across the lake and seasonal conditions can affect such topography on a year to year basis. Dams located on the north outlets control water level and water levels are lowered over the winter to reduce ice damage to the shorelines
Lake Winnebago has become a major recreation area not only in the tranquil months of the Midwest summer but also the picturesque months of the winter season. The size and character of the lake affords opportunity for all recreational enthusiasts and many take advantage of the waterway by adventuring both up and down the Winnebago system. Boating activities range from sailing, pleasure cruising, speed boating, water skiing, and winter ice boating. It is considered one of the nation’s top walleye fisheries, hosts world class fishing tournaments, and is home of the largest natural sustaining lake sturgeon population in the world. Secluded campgrounds, accommodating resorts, and acres of parks are nestled across the perimeter of the lake. Windsurfing and kite surfing enthusiasts continue to flourish. Seasonal waterfowl hunters hover the west shore islands on a year to year basis. Ice fishing shanties, four wheelers, and snowmobiles of all generations gather in celebration atop the ice.
Lake Winnebago also offers a wonderful array of entertainment of all generations. Dining and lakeside hotspots can be found on each corridor of the lake and throughout the river system. Summer time family weekend events, weekly music festivals, and community fairs offer a calendar of events for all occasions. A mix of scenic community golf courses can be found in each and every direction and the renowned courses of Black Wolf Run and Whistling Straits of Kohler are a conveniently located to the east. Firework displays and power boat runs showcase the holiday months of the summer. Road America Racing events continue a few miles away in the inviting community of Elkhart Lake. World Class Events include EAA Adventure, Walleye Weekend Family Festival, and Country Music Festival and the entertainment never ends!