Lake Superior is North America’s largest and deepest Great Lakes. It is also the world’s largest freshwater lake by surface area. The U.S. state of Minnesota shares it to the west, the U.S. state of Michigan and Wisconsin to the South, and the Canadian Province of Ontario to the North. The Canadian Province of Quebec bounds the Eastern part of the lake.
The lake has a surface area of 37,600 square miles and a maximum depth of 1,332 feet. It contains about 3,000 cubic miles of water, making it the world’s third-largest freshwater lake by volume.
Lake Superior experiences a wide range of temperatures. With as high as 65.1°F (18.4°C) in the summer to as low as 32.4°F (0.2°C) in the winter. However, the average surface temperature of Lake Superior is 39.2°F (4°C).
The Lake is also known for its large waves, reaching up to heights of 30 feet.
Facts about Lake Superior
- Location: North America
- Maximum depth: 1332 feet
- Surface area: 37,600 square miles
- Elevation: 600 feet above sea level
- Show line: 206 square miles
- Islands: More than 200
- Primary outflow: St. Mary’s River, which flows into Lake Huron
Characteristics of Lake Superior
- The Lake has the cleanest and clearest water of the Great Lakes, with visibility reaching up to 98 feet in some areas.
- In terms of surface area, it is the largest freshwater lake in the world, at 31,700 square miles.
- The Lake has a maximum depth of 1,332 feet, thus the deepest of the Great Lakes.
- The Lake has a rugged shoreline with dense forests and towering cliffs.
- The Lake is home to different species of wildlife.
- More than 200 rivers flow into it.
What Makes Lake Superior Special
Many features make Lake Superior special, and one of the most striking ones is its impressive size and incredible depth. Not only the largest freshwater lake globally by surface area and the deepest of the great lakes, but also, its depth and size allow a wide range of aquatic organisms to thrive.
In addition to its size, the Lake is famous for its beauty. It is the cleanest and clearest lake in the world, with a visibility of about 98 feet. The Lake’s water is very cold, even in summer, and is well known for its turquoise color. Due to its treacherous weather conditions, the Lake is also home to many shipwrecks.
Moreover, more than 200 rivers drain their waters into Lake Superior, with the largest tributary being Lake Nipigon in Ontario and the Pigeon River in Minnesota. On the other hand, Lake Superior drains its waters into Lake Huron through the St Mary’s River.
The Weather of Lake Superior
The environment of the Lake’s region is characterized by cold winters, cool summers, and a high amount of precipitation. The water temperature varies widely depending on depth and season.
In summer, the surface water warms up to 65.1°F (18.4°C), while the water at the bottom of the lake remains near freezing. This temperature difference creates interesting weather conditions, such as fog and thunderstorms.
Additionally, winds also influence the climate there. During winter, the temperatures drop below freezing point, and the Lake is usually covered in ice. The winds pick up this ice and create giant waves known as ice storms. These waves can reach a height of about 30 feet high.
Islands in Lake Superior
The Lake is home to more than 3,000 islands, the largest being Isle Royale. Isle Royale is located in the Northwest part of the Lake. The island is home to a national park with various wildlife, such as moose, wolves, and bald eagles. Visitors can enjoy hiking, camping, and canoeing on this island.
Another island is Michipicoten Island. This island is located in the Southwestern part of the Lake. It has a provincial park and is well known for its scenic view and hiking trails.
Adding to our list are the Apostle Islands. The Apostle Islands are a group of twenty-one islands located in the Northwest corner of the Lake. These islands are known for their dramatic cliffs, pristine beaches, and abundance of wildlife.
Another famous island is St. Ignace Island, which is home to a national historic site. And as mentioned above, there are other small islands, many of which are uninhabited.
Visitors here can explore the islands by hiking, camping, kayaking, or taking a ferry ride.
The Lake region is home to different national parks and recreational activities. These parks offer many activities for visitors, such as hiking, camping, fishing, and canoeing. However, recreational activities change depending on the season. For instance, recreational activities in summer range from kayaking and hiking, while in winter, they range from exploring ice caves to skiing.
Some examples of these parks include:
- Isle Royale National Park
- Pukaskwa National Park
- Sleeping Giant Provincial Park
- Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
- Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
The largest freshwater lake in the world is home to many different species of fish, birds, and mammals. And as with other lakes, it is home to several fish species, such as trout, salmon, and whitefish.
Also, many mammals live within the Lake’s catchment area. These mammals include moose, deer, and bears.
In addition, the Lake also supports a healthy population of birds, such as loons, bald eagles, and ospreys.
Not forgetting, it is home to many native plant species, especially the orchid, which occurs in almost 60 species. Other indigenous plant species are the flowering rush and the white pine.
Is it safe to swim in Lake Superior?
Although the water is very cold, it is generally safe to swim in Lake Superior. However, one has to take some basic precautions. This is because the Lake has many dangers, such as high waves, strong currents, and cold temperatures. Therefore it is advisable to check the weather conditions before swimming in the Lake.
Which country owns Lake Superior?
Both the United States and Canada co-own Lake Superior. The two countries manage the Lake per the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909.
How many ships have sunk in Lake Superior?
There is no specific number; however, it is estimated that over 200 ships have sunk in the Lake. The first recorded shipwreck was the Griffon, which sunk in 1679. And the most recent shipwreck was the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, which sank in 1975.
Does Lake Superior have alligators?
No, there are no alligators in the Lake. This is because Lake Superior is very cold, and alligators require warm temperatures to survive.
Which is the largest animal in Lake Superior?
Lake Superior is home to various animals; however, the sturgeon is the largest animal in the Lake. They can grow up to lengths of six feet long and weigh over 200 pounds. Sturgeons are also one of the ancient fish in the Lake and are highly targeted by fishermen.