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Lake Superior Horizon

“Can you see to the other side of Lake Superior?”

Lake Superior map

That’s what I was asked once while on my 50-state Hometown Invasion Tour.

I don’t want to drop any names of who it was, but clearly someone a long ways away from the Great Lakes Region. This adult was someone who I saw as well educated, and I believe any U.S. citizen should be able to answer this question with ease. However, that’s easy to say for those who live only a few hundred yards off the shore of Lake Superior. Throughout my trip I was frequently educated people on the Great Lakes and wanted to share…

Why Lake Superior is the Greatest Lake on Earth, and why it kicks your lake’s butt…

How big is Lake Superior?

  • Largest fresh water lake in the world (by surface area)
  • Surface area: 31,820 square miles
  • Water volume: 2,900 cubic miles
  • Shore length: 2,725 miles
  • Maximum length: 350 miles
  • Maximum width: 160 miles
  • Surface elevation: 609 feet
  • Average depth: 482 feet
  • Maximum depth: 1,332 feet
  • Maximum depth: 723 feet below sea level

There is enough water in Lake Superior to cover the entire land mass of North and South America with a foot of water.

How Lake Superior compares

  • Lake Superior is the size of South Carolina
  • Lake Superior is larger than 10 states: WV, MD, HI, MA, VT, NH, NJ, CT, DE, and RI
  • Lake Superior is larger than the countries of: Czech Republic, Ireland, Latvia, Croatia, Switzerland, Belgium, Rwanda, and dozens of others
  • Lake Superior is 33.6% of the entire surface area and 53.5% of the entire volume of all Great Lakes combined
  • Lake Superior is 18.7 times greater in surface area than the Great Salt Lake
  • Lake Superior is 2.6 times greater in surface area than Lake Baikal, however, Lake Baikal has twice the volume
  • At the deepest point Lake Superior would drown the Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty and the John Hancock Center (The Sears Tower will still stand 398 feet out the water)

Many people near Lake Champlain consider it to be the “6th Great Lake”. Lake Superior is 28 times greater in surface area, and 465 times the water volume than Lake Champlain.

Other Lake Superior facts…

  • Gichigami is the Ojibwa word for Lake Superior meaning “big water”
  • Many people believe that Lake Superior resembles a wolf’s head (facing west)
  • The SS Edmund Fitzgerald was the last major ship wreck in 1975
  • The surface area temperature has risen 4.5 degrees since 1979
  • Lake Superior has been described as the most oligotrophic (clearest) lake in the world
  • Over 300 rivers and streams flow into Lake Superior
  • Contains ~10% of all the Earth’s fresh water
  • The average surface temperature is 40 degrees
  • 1979 was the last complete freeze over
  • Produces some of the greatest lake-effect snowstorms on earth
  • ~40 miles north of Munising, MI is the deepest point at 1,332 feet
  • Annual reports of waves that are over 30 feet high
  • At 10,000 years old it is one of the youngest major features on earth (Lake Baikal in Russia is 25 million years old)
  • Features over 60 species of fish

So, it’s my turn to ask, can you see to the other side of Lake Superior? I’ll leave it up to you to decide.

Source: Wiki Photo by Sharon Mollerus on Flickr

22 Wonderful Comments

  1. Very fun post! I’m a troll (for those of you that don’t know, that’s someone who lives under the (Mackinaw) bridge) and I absoultely love spending summers on the Superior shoreline.

    Can’t wait for june!

  2. Excellent post! I have to post this for my non-Yooper readers. I just love our big lake:)

  3. i was wondering if you could tell me the shore length of lake superior in michigan compared to minnesota in miles. i cant find it anywhere.

  4. Yooper Steez
    Apr 17, 2008


    Check it out… you’ve inspired a new bog post. I hope this answers your question.

  5. Yooper Steez
    Jun 29, 2008

    Today I was checking the web statistics for the site and someone came to this post searching “size of Lake Superior vs. Ireland”.

    To answer their question:

    Lake Superior: 31,820 square miles
    Republic of Ireland: 27,133 square miles

  6. Paul Levins
    Nov 16, 2009

    10,000 years old???? Explain please!

  7. Yooper Steez
    Nov 16, 2009


    The 10,000 years old refers to the Wisconsin glaciation, in North America, which was the last glacial period. This is when the first people came to the area as the glacier retreated.

    You can read more here on Wikipedia:

    And more here on the Encyclopedia Britannica:

    I have a hard time believing it myself. But that’s what I’ve read. However, this is not when the depth and rock in the lake was formed, from my understanding that was millions of years ago. But it was 10,000 years ago when Lake Superior started reaching its current levels.

    Can anyone else weigh in on this topic, perhaps someone with a geological background?

  8. I’m not sure how I’d answer that question. On a clear day you can see Isle Royale from Bumbleton. You can see Sault Ste Marie, Ontario from Whitefish Point. But you can’t see Marathon, ON from Marquette. I think it was a trick question.

  9. yooperdog
    Apr 14, 2010

    I think, due to the curve of the earth, that it is not possible to see the other side of the lake.

  10. Lake Superior is alarming.

  11. Awesome post, and uber-ironic, because I was just talking about Lake Superior and Lake Baikal this morning…are you watching me…?

  12. Brett Hill
    Jun 24, 2010

    Also..Lake Superior has a 3-inch tide.

  13. The water in Lake Superior is so clear you can keep your eyes open underwater! Swimming in it is great!

  14. Kevin Davidson
    Dec 30, 2010

    I used to stand on my porch in Franklin Mine and look at Isle Royale. That’s not the “other side per say but it works for me.

  15. I want to sail a boat in Lake Superior someday. Based on the information you provided, I’ll probably need a fairly large boat. Thanks for the wonderful info!

  16. What would be the greatest distance from land someone could be on Lake Superior? I Googled grestest distance from land on Lake Superior but to no avail so I was curious if anyone knew what would be the farthest from land that one could possibly be whilst on Lake Superior? Lake Superior is definitely my favourite lake and actually my favourite body of water period!

  17. Darrell Singleton
    Jun 12, 2016

    In answer to the question about what is the farthest from land you can be while on Lake Superior, that’s easy. Since the lake is 160 miles wide at it’s widest point, you could be 80 miles from land if you were at the center of that widest point.

  18. >160 miles wide at it’s widest point,

    Well, no.. The widest part seems to be a line around Terrace Bay, ON and Marquette, MI.

    But…that line that connects those is actually really close to Copper Harbor.

    Plus islands will affect that as well.

    I’m trying to find out what areas in the lake that there is no visible land in any direction.

  19. Well, if you’re in the Soo, you could. Maybe the Duluth/Superior area, too, if you consider the “middle” of the lake as an arc from the Soo to a point between them. It all depends on where you are and what your requirement of “other side” is.

  20. Where would be the best place to park an RV for a day or 2 on Lake Superior between Minneapolis and Mackinac? Planning a cross-country trip starting/ending in Maryland in a few years. Thanks for the great post!

  21. Ed Kwasnick
    Jun 18, 2017

    Can you see across Lake Superior? Here’s the answer. Distance to horizon is calculated by multiplying 1.17 times the square root of the distance of sight above the water. Example: If you were standing on a boat, and your eyes were 9 feet above the water, the equation would be: 1.17 x 3 ft. = 3.51 (miles). A person would need to be very high in the sky to “see across” Lake Superior. My wife and I lived aboard large powerboats (58 feet in length) for 20 years. We cruised in 4 of the 5 great lakes, the Chesapeake, and down the ICW (intracoastal waterway) to the Florida Keys. Believe me; the equation is correct. Google: calculating distance to horizon.

    Oct 6, 2017

    Of course where you are determines if you can see across Lake Superior. I’ve been at Duluth many times and I can see across to Wisconsin. However if your at the 160 mile wide part it would take some great eyesight! LOL.

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