Madison Area Lakes

Whether this is your first visit to the Madison area, or you’ve resided here forever, there are always new Summer activities to experience.  

For example, how many times have you heard family or friends ask about going boating, fishing, or just hanging out at a lake?  

Well, did you know that there are over 100 lakes in Dane County?  With this abundance of resources, we thought it would be helpful to list out some of the top ways to access our largest and most popular lakes.  

You can then enjoy the day fishing, swimming, water skiing, or just cruising around the lake.  Just don’t forget to bring along your sunscreen, favorite snacks and beverages, and any other recreational toys.  Also remember to grab a fishing license if this is your activity of choice.  

A quick listing of our top lakes and ways to access them is as follows.  Keep in mind this only scratches the surface. That said, hopefully it gets the juices going and sparks some ideas for some great Summer fun. 

  • Lake Mendota – This is the largest lake in Dane County.  Launches are located at Marshall, Spring Harbor, Tenney and Warner Parks in Madison.  Be sure to make a pit stop at the Memorial Union on the UW campus for some snacks and live music.    
  • Lake Monona – Another beauty.  Main launches located at Law, Olbrich and Olin Parks in Madison.  Definitely stop by the Monona Bait & Ice Cream shop on your way out.  
  • Lake Waubesa – Known for its great fishing and boating.  The main launch site located within the village of McFarland, right on Highway 51 as you come into town.  
  • Lake Kegonsa – There are several launch sites located within the town of Dunn and Pleasant Springs (near Stoughton and McFarland).
  • Lake Wingra – This hidden gem borders the UW Madison Arboretum and the city of Madison.  You can rent a canoe, kayak or paddle boat at Wingra Park.  The launch is located at Vilas Park, near the Henry Vilas Zoo.  

A couple other lakes that are worth the short scenic drive to are located in nearby Jefferson County:

  • Lake Ripley – Also very popular for both skiing and fishing.  Designated boat landings near Marina Ln and Island Ln in Cambridge.
  • Rock Lake – One of the clearest lakes you will ever see.  Sandy Beach and Bartel’s Beach are great stops.  There are also boat launches at Miljala Park, Sandy Beach, and Lower Rock County Lake Park.   

Finally, Lake Wisconsin is located in Columbia and Sauk counties.  There is lake access from over 10 public boat landings.  Plan for a fun day and stop at one of the many sandbars and restaurants on the lake.  You can also ride the ferry into Merrimac and enjoy the incredible country views.

As you’re boating, swimming, or just hiking around our lakes, take a moment to look around and grasp the sites and beauty.  It is what memories are made of.    

Finally, have fun but stay safe out there too.  Make sure that you have the proper insurance coverage in place for both you and your Summer toys.  Feel free to contact us with any questions or requests.