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Explore Vilas County’s wonderful waters


  • Article
  • Beaches
  • Boating
  • Fishing
  • Lakes & Rivers
  • Lodging
  • Paddling
  • Swimming

Wondering how to get on the water in Vilas County? Read this guide to find out.

Vilas County Wisconsin lake spring

Vilas County is home to more than 1,300 lakes and countless rivers and streams. That’s a lot to explore, whether you’re paddling, fishing, boating, swimming or just taking in the scenery. Wondering how to get on the water in Vilas County? Read this guide to find out.

What to do

Take your pick! Pack up a rod and reel and cast a line in Vilas County’s famed fisheries for walleye, pike or the elusive musky. Load up a canoe, kayak or paddleboard (or rent one from a local outfitter) and spend a day on one of the area’s serene lakes. Visitors looking for motorized fun can rent a pontoon boat or fishing boat. Dreaming of warm weather? Start planning your summer getaway today by learning about Vilas County’s public beaches.

Where to go

Discover Vilas County’s notable lakes on your next trip, hundreds of which are open to the public. In northeastern Vilas County, visitors will discover the massive 4,000-acre Lac Vieux Desert, which straddles the border of Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. In central Vilas County, Star Lake and Trout Lake are home to great watersports as well as scenic lakeside resorts and cabins.

Canoers and kayakers can choose from seven paddling routes that will take them on famed waters like the Wisconsin River or the rivers and lakes of the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest.

Lake chains are a great way to explore numerous lakes in a single outing. Vilas County is home to several notable chains, including the Eagle River Chain, which combines with the Three Lakes Chain to form the world’s largest chain of freshwater lakes with 28 magnificent bodies of water. Other chains avid explorers shouldn’t miss include the Cisco Chain, which connects waters in northern Vilas County with lakes in the Upper Peninsula, and the 10-lake Manitowish Waters Chain.

Looking for a place to say on the water? Discover lakeside cabins, cottages and more in Vilas County.