Volcanic Caldera Lake
photo © ArtBrom

What are the origins of volcanic lakes? Lakes sometimes form in a crater left after an explosive volcanic event. Sometimes they form from the collapse of a volcano’s cone; these lakes are known as caldera lakes. Lakes can also form when lava, mud or ash obstruct an existing river or stream path after an eruption. Some volcanic lakes are filled with life-sustaining water that supports abundant plant and animal life, while others are filled with a toxic brew of hot gasses, acids and liquefied minerals. Fresh-water lake formation is an evolutionary process over thousands of years. How quickly this evolution happens depends of the volume of escaping toxic material, the volume of fresh water flowing into the lake, and how quickly the volcano settles into dormancy. Some volcanic lakes remain in the toxic chemical-soup state for long periods because the underlying geology is still very active. Because some chemical lakes are very beautiful, yet toxic and unpredictable, primitive cultures often believed that hostile gods lived in their depths. Today, photographers seek out volcano lakes due their vibrant, changeable colors. Let’s take an armchair world tour of some of the most popular volcano lakes.

Crater Lake, Oregon
photo © StuSeeger

Crater Lake, Oregon is often called one of the world’s most beautiful lakes. Located at the crest of the Cascade Range about a hundred miles inland from the Oregon coast, Crater Lake is the United States’ deepest lake at 1,943 feet. Created almost 8,000 years ago as a result of a volcanic explosion, this caldera lake covers 13,056 surface acres at an elevation of 6,171 feet. Crater Lake gains its water primarily from annual snowmelt and has no outlet streams. Protected within Crater Lake National Park, visitors are welcomed by two visitor centers and can camp, fish from shore for salmon or trout, hike, view wildlife, cross-country ski, scuba dive or take a guided boat tour. Visitors enjoy views of the beautiful deep blue water from the Rim Drive, historic Crater Lake Lodge or the numerous campsites located within the park.

Lake Toba, Indonesia
photo © Max Grabert

Lake Toba, Indonesia is the largest volcanic crater lake in the world, covering almost 272,000 acres. The lake is the result of a super-volcano about 75,000 years ago, believed to be the largest volcanic explosion on earth. The island of Samosir, with 267 square miles, takes up much of the center of the 1,736 feet deep lake. The Province of North Sumatra is a land of lush green jungles and mountains, sparkling lakes, breathtaking waterfalls and exotic birds and animals. Lake Toba’s 2,969 feet elevation is a welcome relief from the sometimes oppressive humidity of the lowlands. Samosir is geared to tourism with plenty of lodging opportunities, including some traditional stilt-house rentals, marketplaces filled with traditional crafts and native villages. Tour boats ply the lake, and the local Batik people encourage visitors to many of their traditional ceremonies. Lake Toba’s exotic locale is a bucket-list-worthy destination.

Lake Taupo, New Zealand
photo © HerryLawford

Lake Taupo, North Island, New Zealand fills the caldera of a volcano that has erupted at least 27 times, the last being around 181 AD. Home to a Maori tribe for over 700 years, the lake is 538 feet deep, covers a huge 152,216 acres, and is surrounded by land protected by a group of conservancies. The lake itself is a favorite for charter trout fishing, and a number of tour boats allow visitors to view the scenery and local wildlife. The famed 30-foot high Maori rock carvings are best seen from the water. Nearby, the Craters of the Moon geothermal area offers boardwalks among geysers, boiling mud springs, hot pools and steam vents. With an elevation of 1,171 feet, the temperature is usually quite moderate, and the large numbers of guest lodgings make the Lake Taupo area an excellent choice for a holiday.

Lake Coatepeque, El Salvador
photo © Mario Pleitez

Lake Coatepeque, El Salvador formed in a caldera between 10,000 and 70,000 years ago, Lake Coatepeque covers 5,931 acres at an elevation of 2,448 feet. The lake is a favored vacation and part-time residential destination for many who enjoy all sorts of water sports, boating, sailing and fishing. Evidence of Lake Coatepeque’s volcanic past can be seen in the steam vents and hot springs on several islands within the lake. Archeological findings point to an important Mayan center once inhabiting two small peninsulas and the Isla del Cerro at the south end of the lake. Two rim roads offer lovely views of the beautiful lake, and scuba divers enjoy exploring the 394-feet depths. Many resorts, hotels and private guest houses provide lodgings for holiday visitors.

Kelimutu Tri-Colored Lakes, Indonesia
photo © java tourism

The Kelimutu Tri-Colored Lakes, Indonesia are toxic and share a caldera on Kelimutu volcano. Still somewhat active, the last steam explosion occurred in 1968. Located on the Island of Flores at an elevation of 5,377 feet, these three lakes have different chemical compositions even though they originate from the same volcano. The lakes change colors unexpectedly. The local people believed that the spirits of the departed reside in the lake; one is assigned to the spirits of those who die young, one to the elders, and one to evil spirits. The Tri-Colored Lakes and Kelimutu National Park have become a favorite tourism destination, with look-out points constructed where photographers can get the ideal shot of all three lakes with colors ranging from red, blue, green, brown and nearly black. Visitors must remain at a distance as the fumes from the lakes can be highly dangerous. Lodging accommodations can be arranged in Muni, the nearest village. A visit to the Kelimutu Tri-Colored Lakes is an absolute necessity to top off a visit to nearby Komodo Island to see the famed Komodo Dragons.

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  • Aerial View of Lake Erie Islands
    photo © millerferry

    Lake Erie’s 6,261,500 acres border four states – New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan – and the province of Ontario, Canada. Contained within this Great Lake are about 36 islands, some large and developed and others small and uninhabited. Ice sheets covered the Great Lakes basin about 20,000 years, and their retreat over the next 10,000 years formed the Lake Erie Islands. This blog highlights four of the islands in the Bass Island Archipelago in northwest Ohio near Sandusky: South Bass Island, Middle Bass Island, North Bass Island, and Kelleys Island. With the exception of North Bass Island, these picturesque, glacier-sculpted islands provide easily-accessible vacation destinations.

    Perry's Victory & International Peace Memorial
    photo © NOAA's National Ocean Service

    South Bass Island is a tourist-friendly destination accessible by ferry, just three miles from the tip of Catawba peninsula on the mainland. Summer vacationers dramatically increase the small population of year-round residents. The village of Put-in-Bay, nicknamed the “Key West of the North”, is a Victorian-style town that has offered refuge to sailors and fishermen for hundreds of years. Today, the village’s festive atmosphere serves up a healthy portion of boutiques, restaurants, and live musical entertainment, including strolling barbershop singers, bagpipers, and steel drums. For vacationers who prefer more solitude, South Bass Island State Park offers wooded camping and lakeside picnicking perched atop scenic white limestone bluffs. Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial is an island landmark that commemorates the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812, and celebrates the long-lasting peace among the USA, Canada and the UK. South Bass Island offers some of the best smallmouth bass fishing in the world, too.

    Ferry to Middle Bass Island
    photo © millerferry

    Middle Bass Island is also a well-developed island accessible by ferry boat. Shaped like the Big Dipper, French explorer Robert La Salle named the island ‘Isle des Fleures’, the Floral Island, in 1679 because of the abundance of wildflowers. The island retained this name for 200 years until a German count acquired the island in 1856 and began growing grapes. The Golden Eagle Winery, later the Lonz Winery, produced German Rhineland-type wines until the 1970s. In 2001 the State of Ohio purchased part of the Lonz Winery and its marina complex to create Middle Bass Island State Park. Still under development, today the Park offers primitive camping and a marina with boat slips. Middle Bass is a low, green island speckled with glacial grooves and beaches. The Middle Bass Kuehnle Wildlife Refuge is on one of North America’s main bird and monarch butterfly migratory paths. The best time to view the monarch’s route between Canada and Mexico is late August and September. Bird watching is best during the spring and fall migrations.

    North Bass Island Historic Chapel

    North Bass Island, also known as Isle Saint George, has not been commercially developed. Access is by private boat or plane. The State of Ohio owns 87% of the land, preserved as North Bass Island State Park. The Park is open for low-impact recreational opportunities only – camping, fishing, hiking, swimming, picnicking, biking and wildlife viewing. Additional trails are planned to connect landmarks such as the island’s chapel, cemetery, and historic houses. The State leases 38 acres to Firelands Vineyard of Sandusky “to preserve North Bass Island’s cultural fabric and history of vineyards and winemaking.” A small population of permanent residents owns the remaining private property. Vacationers looking for a secluded island experience will make the extra effort to visit North Bass Island.

    Kelleys Island Lighthouse
    photo © valeehill

    Kelleys Island, located east of the three Bass Islands, is also accessible by public ferry. Kelleys is well-developed as a vacation destination with beaches, parks, campgrounds, resorts, shopping, and restaurants. The entire island is on the National Register of Historic Places. The island was renamed in 1840 for the Kelley brothers who cultivated the island’s quarrying, logging, and winemaking. Limestone quarrying continues today. The Glacial Grooves, a National Natural Landmark, are the largest easily accessible limestone grooves in the world – a trough 400 feet long, 35 feet wide, and 10 feet deep. Inscription Rock State Memorial is a flat-topped limestone slab marked with prehistoric Indian carvings of animals and human figures dating back to AD 1200 to 1600. Kelleys Island State Park offers camping, a boat launch ramp, swimming, picnicking, hiking trails, fishing, and winter recreation (ice skiing, cross-country skiing, ice fishing). The Alvar State Nature Preserve is located within the park; alvar is a Swedish word describing barren limestone or dolomite exposed by receding glaciers.

    Ferries to the Lake Erie Islands depart from Port Clinton, Catawba Island, Marblehead, and Sandusky. Ferries generally run May to October, so there is still plenty of time this summer and fall to experience the charm of the Lake Erie Islands. To view a map of the Lake Erie Islands State Parks, click here .

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  • Scenic Lake Lure, NC
    photo © Smart Destinations

    What are America’s Most Popular Vacation Lakes? You have your own favorites, and you’re probably enjoying those favorites this summer. But what’s the big picture? We looked at the most-visited pages on Lakelubbers, and used Internet search engines to reveal lakes with the largest number of vacation-related webpages. We excluded the Great Lakes because each one includes so many vacation destinations. Eleven lakes dominated our search. This blog post highlights four of those lakes, listed in alphabetical order by state.

    Lake Tahoe's Emerald Bay
    photo © ceemarie

    Lake Tahoe, located in both California and Nevada, is the quintessential four-season destination, with winter vacations just as popular as summer getaways. Tucked into the Sierra Nevada Mountains, 122,000-acre Lake Tahoe is the second deepest lake in the USA with a maximum depth of 1,645 feet. Lake Tahoe gained international recognition when it hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley. Although Lake Tahoe is a natural lake formed about two million years ago, it is also is a multi-purpose reservoir for hydropower generation, water storage for agriculture, fish and wildlife protection, drought protection, and recreation. More than 80% of the Lake Tahoe Basin is under public ownership through the U.S. Forest Service and the State Parks of California and Nevada, providing an incredible array of outdoor activities. D.L. Bliss and Emerald Bay State Parks provide six miles of spectacular shoreline with panoramic views. Picturesque Emerald Bay was recognized as a National Natural Landmark in 1969, and was designated as an underwater state park in 1994. With 600 inches of snow each year, 12 world-class alpine ski resorts, and spectacular snow-covered views, Lake Tahoe is a premier destination for winter vacation fun.

    Lake Winnipesaukee Summer
    photo © dawnzy58

    New Hampshire’s Lake Region is well known for its beautiful four-season scenery: covered bridges, old red barns and church steeples, all accented by mountain overlooks. Lake Winnipesaukee is the largest lake in the state, spanning almost 44,600 acres with 385 islands dotting its surface, 274 of them inhabitable. Boating is a year-round activity, even in the winter when ice sailing takes center stage. Scenic lake cruises are available during summer months, including a floating U.S. mailboat that delivers mail to the lake’s islands. Public beaches are scattered around the 240-mile shoreline, including Ellacoya State Park with a 600-foot long sandy beach and RV campground. The lake also boasts four castles near its shores: Kimball Castle, Roxmont Castle, Graystone Caste, and Castle in the Clouds (open to the public). When you visit, keep your camera ready for sightings of Winnie, Lake Winnipesaukee’s monster.

    Lake Placid Autumn
    photo © Lake Placid Region

    The most famous Adirondack Lake is 2,170-acre Lake Placid, New York, the host of two Winter Olympics (1932 and 1980), bringing a variety of winter sports venues in the area into the wider public eye. Visitors arrive in all seasons and from all corners of the world to enjoy Lake Placid and its smaller sister, Mirror Lake. Whiteface Mountain treats sports enthusiasts to superb alpine skiing. Snowmobiling, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, ice skating, bobsledding, tobogganing, dog sledding, or a leisurely chairlift ride up the mountain are great ways to experience the snow-covered beauty of the Adirondacks. The lakes are just as popular during warmer weather with boating, canoeing, kayaking, cruise tours, swimming, camping, golf, and autumn ‘leaf peeping’ drives. Lake Placid Village is a fun place to browse the talents of local artists and craftsmen. Another popular attraction, the 6 million-acre Adirondack Park, provides thousands of miles of wooded hiking, biking, and equestrian trails with panoramic summits.

    Smith Mountain Lake 4th of July
    photo © Ted Pratt

    20,600-acre Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia, “Jewel of the Blue Ridge,” is located in the foothills of southwest Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Smith Mountain Lake is the home base of Lakelubbers. SML hosts special events throughout the year, including bass tournaments, fireworks on the water, a wine festival, fall chili and craft festival, charity home tour of lakefront homes, and a Christmas boat parade. Smith Mountain Lake State Park and Franklin County Park feature beautiful sand beaches and miles of hiking trails. The Parks, plus five golf courses, provide plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation. The paddlewheel cruise ship, the Virginia Dare, offers scenic lunch and dinner cruises. With 500 miles of shoreline to explore, Smith Mountain Lake welcomes all types of watercraft – speedboats, pontoon boats, bass boats, jet skis, canoes and kayaks. And watch for the Fall 2011 release of the new movie Lake Effects, filmed entirely at Smith Mountain Lake.

    To read about all 11 of America’s Most Popular Vacation Lakes, visit our Lakelubbers Newsletter Archive. And don’t forget to sign up for future newsletters, delivered straight to your email inbox!

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  • July 21st, 2011 | Written by Lisa | No Comments

    Lake Pepin Marker
    photo © e_mccarron

    Lake Pepin is a stunningly beautiful hidden treasure, located about 90 minutes southeast of Minneapolis-St. Paul. Lake Pepin is the largest lake on the Mississippi River, formed 9,500 years ago by the backup of water behind sediments where the Chippewa River empties into the mighty Mississippi. Covering about 29,000 acres, Lake Pepin stretches out more than 25 miles along the Mississippi, forming the border that separates Minnesota and Wisconsin. The lake was originally named Lac de Pleurs – Lake of Tears – by Father Louis Hennepin in 1680, after observing his Sioux captors grieving over the death of a chief’s son. Lake Pepin and the Village of Pepin are named after the Pepin brothers, two of the first French trappers to the area. Lake Pepin is known as the “birthplace of waterskiing” – native Ralph Samuelson invented the sport here in 1922.

    Lake Pepin Panoramic
    photo © rochelle hartman

    The 70-mile drive around Lake Pepin is a perfect day trip. The road plays hide-and-seek with the lake’s shoreline. Along the way you will discover spectacular sandstone and limestone cliffs and densely wooded bluffs that tower 400 feet above the lake. Quaint river towns, hillsides blanketed in spring wildflowers or brilliant autumn colors, a state park, a vast wildlife preserve, pioneer exhibits, antique shops, bakeries and wine bars will tempt you to linger instead of continuing your loop around the lake. A good place to start a driving tour is Red Wing, Minnesota, on the lake’s northern tip. Route 61 winds south past Frontenac State Park, through Lake City to the town of Wabasha, where you will cross the Mississippi River to Nelson, Wisconsin and the Nelson-Trevino Bottoms State Natural Area. Route 35 in Wisconsin meanders north through the villages of Pepin, Stockholm, Maiden Rock, Bay City, and Hager City, where you will cross over the bridge to return to Red Wing.

    National Eagle Center-Wabasha,MN
    photo © keith011764

    Route 61 south from Red Wing, Minnesota leads to the town of Frontenac and Frontenac State Park. Frontenac was a fashionable summer Riviera in the late 1800s with many pre- and post-Civil War homes still standing along the lakeshore. Frontenac State Park provides 2,270 acres of great bird watching opportunities. The centerpiece of the park is the 430-foot high, 3-mile long limestone bluff overlooking the lake. Lake City’s Hok-Si-La Park offers boat launches, hiking trails, and rocky beaches for agate hunting. Its marina offers sailboat cruises and cruises aboard the replica paddlewheel boat, ‘Pearl of the Lake’. Reads Landing, between Lake City and Wabasha, is a prime location for eagle observation with viewing stops along the road. The historic steamboat town of Wabasha is the home of the National Eagle Center.

    Laura Ingalls Wilder House-Pepin, WI
    photo © loyaldefender 2004

    Crossing the Mississippi River from Wabasha leads to Nelson, Wisconsin, home of a large cheese outlet. The Nelson-Trevino Bottoms State Natural Area, located at the confluence of the Chippewa and Mississippi Rivers, is an undisturbed wilderness rich in flora and fauna – great for hiking and wildlife viewing. Route 35 in Wisconsin continues north into Pepin, a town that provides beautiful views of the lake and beaches for strolling and agate hunting. Pepin is the location of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s ‘House in the Big Woods’ with a replica of the Ingalls’ log cabin. Maiden Rock, a 400-foot limestone bluff above the town of Stockholm, provides panoramic views of the lake. Legend tells of a Chippewa maiden who leaped to her death rather than marry a brave chosen by her chieftain father. Rare wildflowers grow at Maiden Rock, and peregrine falcons nest in the trees. The lake loop is complete by continuing north on Route 35 through Bay City, crossing the bridge back to Red Wing, Minnesota. Red Wing’s historic St. James Hotel is included on the National Register of Historic Places.

    Lake Pepin Sailboats
    photo © Julie Sturek

    Take time to enjoy Lake Pepin from the water, too – by motorboat, sailboat, or houseboat. There are three marinas on the lake, two in Lake City (MN) and one in Pepin (WI) for boat launching. Lake Pepin is a great fishing lake, offering up catches of largemouth and smallmouth bass, walleye, sauger, white bass, black crappie, northern pike, bluegill, and yellow perch. And, Lake Pepin has its own lake monster, named Pepie, a serpentine creature that lives in the shadowy depths beneath Maiden Rock. Most reports of Pepie sightings are from the 1980s with occasional sightings over the past several years. So don’t forget your camera while cruising around Lake Pepin, and be on the look-out for Pepie. There’s a $50,000 reward by the Lake City Tourism Bureau for the person who proves that Pepie exists!

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  • Lake Marion Striped Bass
    photo © Brian Raub

    Bass fishing is a favorite American pastime, with anglers targeting largemouth, smallmouth, striped, spotted, and tropical peacock bass. Lakes all over the world host bass tournaments with large cash awards. Experts don’t always agree on the best bass fishing lakes, but some exceptional lakes appear on many experts’ lists. This newsletter focuses on the Best USA Bass Fishing Lakes. We present some of the experts’ favorite bass fishing lakes in alphabetical order by state. These lakes aren’t just for fishin’ – all are great vacation and recreation lakes for the entire family. Follow each link for lake vacation information and photos!

    Lake Guntersville Lock
    photo © U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

    Lake Guntersville, Alabama
    Lake Guntersville stretches out over 75 miles and covers 69,100 acres along the Tennessee River, making it Alabama’s largest lake. Lake Guntersville was chosen by Relocate America as one of “The 100 Best Places to Live in America.” ESPN fishing tournaments and other pro competitions have been held here, primarily for the lake’s largemouth bass population. Bluegill, catfish, crappie, longear sunfish, redear sunfish, and sauger also attract their share of anglers. Aside from fishing tournaments, year-round events promise plenty of fun and R&R: triathlons, cook-offs, the MOVA (Mountain Valley) Songwriters Festival, and boating races. Lake Guntersville State Park, a 6,000-acre wildlife haven, offers an 18-hole championship golf course, miles of hiking trails, a sandy beach, incredible views, and accommodations.

    Lake Okeechobee Fishing
    photo © sandrafriend

    Lake Okeechobee, Florida
    Shallow Lake Okeechobee has several nicknames, owing to its massive 451,000 acres: Florida’s Inland Sea, Lake O, and The Big Lake. The lake is part of the 154-mile Okeechobee Waterway that extends from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean. Lake O hosts several fishing tournaments each year, and you can look forward to year-round angling enjoyment for world class largemouth bass, plus crappie, bluegill, catfish, and speckled perch. Cruise boat passengers ogle Lake Okeechobee’s spectacular scenery while learning about Lake O’s natural history. The Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail offers 110 miles of hiking trails with front-row views of Florida’s diverse flora and fauna. And for a unique experience, hire a guide for peacock bass fishing in the lakes and rivers of South Florida – the only place in the continental USA where you can catch this formidable, tropical adversary. Colorful peacock bass – in varying shades of green, blue, orange, and gold – are one of the hardest-fighting freshwater fish in the world.

    Lake Saint Clair Sunrise
    photo © CrashTestAddict

    Lake Saint Clair, Michigan
    Lake Saint Clair is the smallest body of water in the Great Lakes system, but this heart-shaped lake spans an impressive 275,000 acres. Tucked between Lake Huron to the North and Lake Erie to the south, Lake St. Clair is renowned as a sport fishing paradise and is one of the USA’s top destinations for smallmouth bass fishing. These hard-fighting fish average 2-4 pounds, with catches as large as 6-7 pounds. Other popular sport fish are muskellunge, walleye, yellow perch, and northern pike. The lake’s muskie record, caught and released in November of 2009, weighed in at 48 lbs., 8 oz. with a length of 56 inches. The Lake St. Clair Tourism Initiative launched its ‘Circle the Lake Tour’ campaign in 2011 with a travel brochure and map that highlight the lake area’s top 50 destinations. Attractions include the Detroit River’s Ambassador Bridge (connecting Detroit, Michigan with Windsor, Ontario) and the St. Clair River’s Blue Water Bridge (connecting Port Huron, Michigan with Sarnia, Ontario). The self-guided tour attractions are reachable by car or boat.

    Bald Cypress Trees at Lake Marion
    photo © Brian Raub

    Lake Marion, South Carolina
    Lake Marion and Lake Moultrie are known as the Santee Cooper lakes for the two rivers they impound. These two reservoirs in South Carolina’s Low Country cover 174,000 acres and are part of a navigable inland channel that extends more than 100 miles from Columbia to Charleston. The 6.5-mile Diversion Canal connects the two lakes. You know you’re in serious fishing country when the billboard across the I-95 bridge welcoming you to the Santee Cooper lakes shows a gigantic striped bass with the humorous caption: “Not quite actual size.” The lakes are fishable all year because they never freeze. The lakes hold many world and state records, including a world record striped bass until 1977 (55 lbs) and a world record channel catfish (58 lbs). State records include largemouth bass (16.2 lbs), black crappie (5 lbs), chain pickerel (6.4 lbs), and an Arkansas blue catfish that weighed a whopping 109.4 pounds (on display at a popular restaurant on the Tailrace Canal).

    Fishin' for Dinner at Lake Fork
    photo © RichlnMN

    Lake Fork, Texas
    Lake Fork is regarded as one of the world’s best big bass lakes. Covering 27,690 acres, state officials created this reservoir in 1985 with bass production in mind. Nationally recognized because of the trophy largemouth bass fishery, Lake Fork claims 65% of the Texas Top 50 largest bass ever caught. The state record still resides at Lake Fork with an 18.18 pound bass that was caught in January 1991, surpassing the old record of 17.67 pounds caught in November 1986 (also in Lake Fork). Other species found in the lake include white crappie, black crappie, channel catfish, bluegill, and redear sunfish. Texas is full of other incredible bass fisheries; these Lone Star State reservoirs provide plenty of space for every imaginable on-water and off-water recreational pursuit.

    To read about all 10 of the USA’s Best Bass Fishing Lakes, visit our Lakelubbers Newsletter Archive. And don’t forget to sign up for future newsletters, delivered straight to your email inbox!

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