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Minnesota's Detroit Lake offers visitors an impressive number of things to do, both in and out of the water. The lake offers 3,067 acres of year-round enjoyment, including fishing, wind surfing, water skiing, jet skiing, snowmobiling, golfing, and wildlife viewing. Resorts, real estate, and private vacation rentals alongside the lake's 12 miles of shoreline provide a place to stay while Detroit Lake provides the rest of the entertainment.
Detroit Lake is found in Becker County, Minnesota's northwest tourism region, among towering trees and a steady growth of wildlife in the state parks surrounding the area. The lake has a maximum depth of 89 feet, as anglers probe the waters with fishing line in the early hours. Andrenaline-junkies are seen skittering across the lake's surface atop wakeboards, water skis, or jet skis. However, Detroit Lake also offers quieter areas for the solitary kayaker and canoeist.
Pelican River flows from the north into Detroit Lake, exiting the lake at its western tip. The lake is connected to other bodies of water by way of Pelican River, which travels 80 miles before joining with other rivers to the north. A lock and dam system used to be in place near Detroit Lake to allow boat traffic, such as steamboats, through the river corridors in the late 1800s, but over the years the system fell into disrepair. Rock rapids are now used instead of locks and dams to maintain water levels and to allow fish to pass through the river corridors.
Not to be confused with Detroit Lake itself, the city of Detroit Lakes flourishes under a steady flow of tourism throughout the year. Visitors and locals stay busy with outdoor music festivals and family carnivals in the summer, while also bundling up in the winter to take part in ice fishing and curling (similar to shuffleboard on ice). Hundreds of lakes surround the Detroit Lakes area, each offering its own version of peaceful paradise.
Over a century ago, 100-pound sturgeon lurked beneath Detroit Lake's depths, creating quite the battle when reeled in. Due to overfishing and a decline in water quality, these water giants declined steadily in numbers until an effort to reverse the effects was put into motion. Now, lake sturgeon have been reintroduced, though there are restrictions against harvesting the species until they are mature -- approximately 15 to 25 years. Anglers today still find themselves reeling in other large fish species such as muskies measuring over 50 inches long and weighing over 30 pounds. Walleye, bluegill, largemouth bass, black crappie and northern pike have also been hooked by anglers.
Not far from Detroit Lake are a number of picturesque outdoor settings providing just the right environment for a day of solitude. Looking for camping? Head an hour northeast to hit Itasca State Park, with over 32,000 acres for pitching your tent underneath the stars. Only 25 minutes to the south of Detroit Lake is Maplewood State Park, where maple trees offer a dazzling sight during their autumnal metamorphosis. The park has horseback riding, mountain hiking and hiking trails in the warmer months, but keeps the activities moving in the winter with groomed snowmobiling trails.
For wildlife buffs, the call of the wild is as close as the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge, a quick 18 miles northeast of Detroit Lake. Over 250 bird species avail themselves to curious eyes. Trumpeter swans, bald eagles and ruffed grouses are just a few avian species which can be seen. Larger wildlife found in the safety of the refuge include moose, black bears, porcupines, and the ever-alert timber wolves.
Exploring the city of Detroit Lakes is easy, since it is within walking distance of the northern portion of the lake. Playhouses and theaters offer cultural and historic entertainment during the day, making it simple to catch a bite to eat in one of the many diverse downtown restaurants. Or make a day of seeking out fiberglass sunfish, 50 of which were made by local artists and are scattered throughout the city.
Detroit Lake is never found lacking in quality entertainment. So, try your hand at something new this year, be it wind surfing, snowmobiling or camping out alone in the woods filled with wildlife.
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