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Fun Facts about Winnipesaukee

Just how big is Lake Winnipesaukee?  How many islands does it really have?  When does it ice over and when does it ice-out?  What sort of fish could you expect to find in it?  How warm does the water get in the summer? 


Lake Facts

  • Winnipesaukee, Lake (WI-ni-puh-SAW-kee)

  • It's the largest lake in New Hampshire.

  • "Winnipiseogee" is the Native American name for Lake Winnipesaukee, which was the most common named used by the earliest New Hampshire English settlers. The most popular translation of the name is "Smile of the Great Spirit". A second interpretation from Indian folklore is "beautiful water in high place".

  • Lake temps vary depending on the weather. Sunny summers can heat the lake up to 79 degrees. Cloudy summers can hold the water around 67-74 degrees.

  • Lake Winnipesaukee has a surface area of about 72 Square Miles, or 44,586 acres.

  • Lake Winnipesaukee has about 63 miles of shoreline.

  • Lake Winnipesaukee typically freezes over in mid January.

  • The most ice outs have occurred in April, specifically April 20th and 24th. Ice out has occurred as early as March 18 (2016), and the latest was May 12th (1888).

  • The official Lake Winnipesaukee Ice-Out is determined when the Mt. Washington can successfully navigate to all of its ports of call.

  • Lake Winnipesaukee is only 504 feet above sea level.

  • Deepest part of the lake - 212 feet, southeast of Rattlesnake Island in “The Broads”. Outside of the shoreline, the rest of the lake is between 20 and 100 feet deep.

  • 178 miles of outer shoreline. The islands have about 101 miles of shoreline. Total shoreline is about 279 miles.

  • "The Witches" is a rocky area east of Governor's Island. These rocks are normally just below the surface and extremely hazardous to boaters.

  • Driving distance around the lake is about 63 miles and takes approximately one and a half hours with light traffic.

  • 2 Counties: Belknap and Carroll, and 8 towns: Alton, Gilford, Laconia, Meredith, Moultonboro, Center Harbor, Tuftonboro, and Wolfeboro border the Lake.

  • The daytime speed limit for boats on the entire lake is 45 miles per hour.

  • Lakeport is the only dam that releases water from Lake Winnipesaukee. It is located at the southern end of Paugus Bay.

Island Facts

  • There are 258 islands dotting Lake Winnipesaukee.

  • There is an Island on Winnipesaukee called "Nine Acres" which is actually thirteen acres in size.

  • Some interesting island names: Overnight, Spider, Rattlesnake, Scavenger, Winch, Upper Shoe, Little Barndoor, Sleepers, Gichigumi, Little Whortleberry, Huck, Little Ganzey.

  • The smallest island in Lake Winnipesaukee is called Becky's Garden. It's about 10 feet wide and varies with the water level.

  • Rattlesnake Island, near the southeastern tip of Lake Winnipesaukee, has the highest elevation with a 400 foot rocky peak that can be climbed.

  • There are four Loon Islands and three of each of the following: Rock Island, Cove Island, and Little Pine Island.

  • The largest island is Long Island which is 1,186 acres. Second largest is Bear Island (780 acres), third is Cow Island (522 acres) and then fourth is Governors Island (504 acres).

  • Only 73 islands are 2 acres or more

  • The area between Deven's Island and Little Bear Island is nicknamed "Hole in the Wall."

  • Stonedam Island has a wildlife preserve that can only be visited by boat.

  • Three islands can be reached by bridge - Black Cat Island, Long Island, and Governor's Island. (Although according to Bizer Worcester Island and Christmas Island are technically included).

  • "Sally's Gut" is a passageway for boats between Stonedam Island and Meredith Neck.

Fish and Wildlife Facts

  • Fish in Winnipesaukee include salmon, rainbow trout, brook trout, lake trout, small and largemouth bass, pickerel, yellow and white perch, hornpout, cusk, and whitefish.

  • Wild animals in the Lake Winnipesaukee region: Otter, beaver, muskrat, mink, fisher, moose, deer, black bear, coyotes, and bobcats.

  • Loons return to Lake Winnipesuakee at ice out.

Refund of the road tax

When one purchases gasoline, New Hampshire road tax is included in the purchase price. This road tax pays for maintenance of our highways. For gasoline purchased for your boat, New Hampshire will refund the New Hampshire road tax provided that you show adequate documentation of tax paid. It is recommended that you save all the necessary paperwork and submit one form at the end of the year.

Here is a PDF version of both pages of the gas refund form., (Adobe Acrobat required).