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Lake Michigan Facts
  • Lake Michigan Statistics
    Length: 307 mi
    Breadth: 118 mi
    Elevation: 577.5 ft / 176 m
    Depth: 279 ft / 85 m average, 923 ft / 281 m maximum
    Volume: 1,180 cubic mi / 4,918 cubic km
    Water Surface Area: 22,300 square mi / 57,753 square km
    Drainage Basin Area: 45,600 square mi / 118,095 square km
    Shoreline Length: 1,640 mi / 2,639 km (including islands)
    Outlet: Straits of Mackinac to Lake Huron



  • Lake Michigan, by volume, is the second largest Great Lake and the only one located totally within the United States.

  • Lake Michigan is the third largest Great Lake by surface area (behind Lake Superior and Lake Huron).

  • Lake Michigan is the 5th largest lake in the world.

  • Lake Michigan discharges into Lake Huron through the Straits of Mackinac at a rate that allows for a complete change of water about every 100 years.

  • Every inch Lake Michigan rises or drops equals 390 billion gallons more or less water in the lake.

  • The lake forms a link in a waterway system that reaches east to the Atlantic Ocean through the St. Lawrence Seaway and south through the Chicago River locks, to the Mississippi River and on to the Gulf of Mexico.

  • Over 43 percent of all Great Lakes fishing is done in Lake Michigan.

  • More than 10,000 ships have sunk in the Great Lakes - with 3,000 of those in Lake Michigan.

  • Lake Michigan contains the worlds largest collection of freshwater sand dunes.

  • The Sleeping Bear Plateau is a 4 square-mile field of dunes, crowned by Sleeping Bear Dune, the highest dune in the state, rising to more than 440 feet above Lake Michigan.

  • The word "Michigan" was originally used to refer to the lake itself, and is believed to come from the Ojibwa Indian word mishigami, meaning "great water."

  • Lake Michigan is bounded, from west to east, by the U.S. states of Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan.

  • Lake Michigan is the largest freshwater lake in the United States.

  • The Petoskey stone, Michigan's state stone, is composed of a fossilized coral, and the only place in the world it is found is on Lake Michigan beaches in northern Michigan.

  • Lake Michigan was formed during the last Ice Age as glaciers advanced and then retreated across the region, creating large glacial lakes.

  • The sand on Lake Michigan beaches in southwestern Michigan is often called "sugar sand" because it resembles grains of sugar in size and purity. The sand is also referred to as "singing sands" because of the squeaking noise, caused by high quartz content, made when walking across it.


Copyright 2010-2014 by Lake Michigan Open Water Organization, West Olive, Michigan. All Rights Reserved