Ask a Sotan is a series that explores the queries of curious Minnesotans about the state. Have a question about life in Minnesota? Post your question here.
We’ve received a lot of questions regarding our state’s most famous claim for fame: The numerous lakes in Minnesota.
Pete Boulay, an assistant state climatologist for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, has helped us answer your lake-related questions.
Are there 10,000 lakes in Minnesota?
The shocking answer is yes!
Minnesota does have 11,842 lakes, per the Minnesota DNR.
The license plates claim to be “The Land of 10,000 Lakes” are, in fact, a lie!
The criteria used by the DNR for what qualifies as a lake can be defined as any lake with a total area of more than 10 acres or 4.05 acres.
If we were to adjust this criterion, allowing lakes more extensive than 2.5 acres Minnesota would have 21,871 lakes. If we include all lakes that are larger than one acre? 43,041 lakes in total.
In addition, using U.S. Geological Survey Data for all bodies of water (lakes or ponds, rivers, and any other), Minnesota has an astounding total of 124,662 water bodies!
The county with the highest number of lakes, and which has the smallest?
St. Louis County has the most significant number of lakes, with 890 in the public water inventory. It grows by 1,515 when the entire basin is included. This is inclusive of Lake Vermilion, Rainy Lake along with Namakan Lake.
Four counties do not include natural lakes on the list: Mower, Olmsted, Pipestone, and Rock counties.