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Wazee Lake is a 146-acre lake east of Black River Falls, Jackson County, in the Mississippi-Chippewa Rivers Region of Wisconsin. The lake is the deepest lake in the state, with a maximum depth of approximately 350 feet. The lake was originally used as a quarry for taconite (low-grade iron ore) mining. When the mine was in operation, pumps removed about 800 gallons of water per minute from the quarry. Once the mine shut down, the quarry began filling with water. The lake is now part of a county park and is an increasingly popular destination for scuba divers due to its deep, crystal clear water. Wazee means "tall pine" in the Ho-Chunk Indian language.
Visibility in Wazee Lake averages between 30 feet and 40 feet during the summer months and as much as 60 feet in the winter. Divers can follow the abandoned mining roads as they descend to the bottom of the lake or make their way through underwater forests. There's even a shipwreck to explore and exceptional views of the various species of fish and plants.
The Wazee Lake Recreation Area offers year round recreation including hiking, cross country skiing, mountain biking, fishing, swimming and snowmobiling. A network of trails wind through this 3,000 acre park offering a spectacular view of the county's eastern landscape. Fish species in Wazee Lake include rainbow trout, brook trout, brown trout, bluegill, catfish, walleye, warmouth and smallmouth bass. Primitive campsites and bathrooms are available for those who wish to camp. Camping accommodations in Jackson County range from primitive overnight sandbar camping to full service campgrounds and RV parks. Non-campers will enjoy rustic cabins and vacation rentals of all kinds.
Much of the land around Wazee Lake is public park and forest land. Jackson County Forest is a 118,000-acre County Forest providing year round recreational opportunities and its diverse wildlife inhabitants includes one of the state's largest whitetail deer populations. An extensive trail system winds its way through the forest providing ATV and motorcycle riders, hikers and snowmobilers spectacular views of the area. The forest also offers a wide range of camping options. Black River State Forest encompasses 67,000 acres and is a multi-purpose recreational, wildlife and timber management facility. The forest provides campgrounds, beaches and picnic areas. Miles of designated trails attract ATVs, snowmobiles, horse riders, hikers, backpackers, mountain bikers and cross-country skiers. Trails vary from relatively easy logging roads to challenging, rugged hill-climbing tracks through dense forests. The county's extensive network of trails also provides easy access to 200,000 acres of public hunting grounds.
Naturalists and wildlife enthusiasts visiting Wazee Lake will enjoy the beautiful surrounding woodlands, grasslands and water ways that provide habitat for whitetail deer, muskrats, beavers, mink, otters, and an occasional timber wolf. Also in abundance are dozens of songbirds and raptors including owls, hawks, and eagles, and thousands of migrating waterfowl in the spring and fall.
The rivers and streams around Wazee Lake offer some excellent canoeing, kayaking and fishing opportunities. The Black River is perfect for family canoeing. The river is dotted with sandbars ideal for overnight camping and sunbathing. The larger county creeks offer amazing scenery and thrilling rapids for more seasoned canoeists and kayakers. Fishing enthusiasts will find a variety of trout in Jackson County's miles of streams and muskies, walleye and smallmouth bass in depths of the Black River.
For those thinking of doing a little exploring, Wazee Lake is located just 10 miles east of the town of Black River Falls. Antique, gift and specialty shops offer hard-to-find collectibles and hand-made Native American arts and crafts. A variety of golf courses, family restaurants, fine dining, and modern malls will appeal to everyone's tastes.
Surrounded by country charm, dense forests, rushing rivers, and placid streams, a visit to Wazee Lake offers four-season outdoor adventure and relaxation for the entire family.
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