All you Need to Know About Lake Superior – Well Almost!

shoreline of lake superior canada
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I’m limited to the number of words I can use here, so I’m not going to fill what space I have with a ton of boring “waffle”. If you don’t already know, Lake Superior belongs to the world famous Great Lakes and is the most northerly of them all. It’s also the largest, in fact, it’s the largest body of fresh water on the planet!

If you’re not sure where it is exactly, the northern most part sits in Ontario Canada, and the Southern most part sits in Michigan, and it spreads as far west as Minnesota. If that doesn’t give you an idea of just how large this lake is, try these statistics for “size”. It’s 160 miles wide, 350 miles long and covers a surface area of 31,700 sq. miles!

Oh, and the volume of water is 2,900 cubic miles with a whopping 2,726 miles of shoreline!

All About the Water

Having read the information above, I could forgive you for wondering just what the water is like at Lake Superior. Well, it has some of the clearest water of any lake in the country (the USA that is), with visibility reaching about 27 feet. At it’s deepest it goes as far down as 1,300 feet which means it’s incredibly rare for this huge body of water to freeze completely.

In terms of temperature Lake Superior is surprisingly moderate, and that’s all year round. In winter, it doesn’t generally go below -34c. Whilst I did say a complete freeze is rare, you will find in the dead of winter that the lake is anywhere between 40 and 95% covered in ice.

During summer you will find the water a very cool 12 or 13c however, the highest ever recorded temperature dates back to 2010 when it reached a massive 20c in the month of August. So, on average you can expect temperatures of about 6 or 7c.

lake superior provincial park

Where on Earth did it Come From?

Cast your minds back 1.2 billion years – ok, I know that’s not possible. But, if you could and you were in North America you would more than likely have witnessed a mid-continent shift. This shift caused a sort of scar which stretched all the way from Kansas to Minnesota. I couldn’t tell you what sort of people lived there first, but there is evidence to suggest they were in the region about 8,000 BC.

More informatively, by 500 BC the Laurel people were in the area, and by the early 1600’s we saw the arrival of the Ojibway people who made their home (in the form of a several thousand-strong village) on Madelaine Island.

A bit More History

Obviously, it had to be named and Lake Superior comes from the French for Upper Lake which translates in French to Lac Supérieure. This could be because French explorers arrived around the mid 1600’s, the most famous of them being Samuel le Champlain and his trusty scout Etienne Brule.

Brule is credited with discovering Lake Huron which is south of Lake Superior which is why it was named so. Another notable point in history is the fact that the lake was a major hub for the transportation of fur and other goods being traded at the time. Actually, it’s still a shipping hub to this day.

Seney Swans

The Wildlife

As you can imagine there’s an abundance of wildlife on, in and around Lake Superior. Species of fish such as trout, salmon and carp can be found there. You may want to pay a visit to Duluth during the fall so you can witness as many as 10,000 migrating birds of prey. If you want my advice, make this your next destination for a vacation.