Breaking News
More () »

VERIFY: Does Minnesota or Wisconsin have more lakes?

Minnesota is the "Land of 10,000 Lakes," but Wisconsin claims to have more than 15,000 lakes. Which state really has more?

PLYMOUTH, Minn. - Minnesota takes pride in hockey, hot dish and all things purple, though we're perhaps best known for our 10,000 Lakes. But does Minnesota really have more lakes than our neighbors in Wisconsin?

A viewer asked the KARE 11 Verify team, "Does Minnesota really have more lakes than Wisconsin? On paper, it appears Wisconsin has more than Minnesota. How is that?"

The answer comes down to what counts as a lake.

Wisconsin DNR spokesperson James Dick said Wisconsin officially lists 15,074 lakes; however, Wisconsin also counts all lakes.

Data that Wisconsin provided to the KARE 11 Verify team shows the smallest named lake in the state is Moonshine Lake in Ashland County, near the town of Sanborn. It measures about two-tenths of an acre; or, put in perspective, about half the size of a regulation NHL hockey rink.

Minnesota, however, has a different definition for what counts as a lake, which still results in a higher number than our famous "10,000 Lakes."

"The difference is that the Minnesota DNR considers a lake to be 10 acres or more, of which we have 11,842," said Minnesota DNR spokesperson Julie Forster. "Wisconsin has no size limit. By their standard, Minnesota would have more than 20,000 lakes."

Minnesota also has more overall lake acreage compared to Wisconsin.

"Not counting the Great Lakes that comprise state borders, Minnesota has about 2.6 million acres of lakes," Forster said. "Wisconsin has about 1 million acres of lakes."

Minnesota's lakes also include hundreds of unnamed lakes across the state.


Help our journalists VERIFY the news. Do you know someone else we should interview for this story? Did we miss anything in our reporting? Is there another story you'd like us to VERIFY? Click here.

Before You Leave, Check This Out