Lake Champlain Facts

  • Size: 435 square miles of surface water
  • Length: 120 miles
  • Width: 12 miles at its widest point
  • Depth: average depth is 64 feet but the deepest point is between Charlotte, VT and Essex, NY at 400 feet
  • Amount of Shoreline: 587 miles
  • Islands: 71
  • Watershed size:  8,234 square miles
  • Surface Elevation: 30 meters
  • Drinking Water:  for almost 200,000 people


Above the Water

Lake Champlain, birds
Birds: There are 318 species of birds in Vermont that live on, near, or depend on Lake Champlain. The Common Tern is one such species that a group of volunteers set out to protect when they started the Lake Champlain Land Trust. It has since become one of Vermont’s greatest wildlife victories. The Common Tern nests on several islands protected by the Lake Champlain Land Trust. Our friends at the Audubon Center now manage the islands and the Common Tern research recovery efforts.


Below the Water

Fish: Lake Champlain has 81 species of fish and is considered one of the best bass fishing lakes in the United States, listed as number five by We’ve worked with communities up and down the lake to protect shoreline, wetlands and marshes featuring key fish spawning habitats. Check out our guide section for fun inland fishing spots such as Mill River Falls in Georgia.


On the Water

Sailboat in Burlington Harbor
Transportation: Crossing Lake Champlain is a breeze! There are three bridges; the Champlain Bridge connecting Crown Point, NY to Addison, VT and Rt. 2 crosses twice, in the North connecting Rouses Point, NY to Alburgh, VT and in the South connecting Whitehall, NY to West Haven, VT. There are also three ferries to get across the wider points; from Charlotte, VT to Essex, NY, from Burlington, VT to Port Kent, NY and from Grand Isle, VT to Plattsburgh, NY. Or you can pick our favorite way and rent a canoe or kayak!


Hidden in the Water

Dinosaurs: Lake Champlain is home to the oldest known fossil reef in the world being 450-480 million years old, but there may still be a dinosaur in the lake. Champ is a mysterious creature, similar to the Loch Ness Monster, that many have claimed to see while enjoying the lake. Whether Champ is a dinosaur, a plesiosaur, a whale, or even exists at all is a mystery, but going on a hunt for Champ on one of our preserved lakeshore properties is a great way to spend the afternoon.


About the Water

Historic Lake Champlain at Howes in North Hero
History: Lake Champlain was founded and named in 1609 by Samuel de Champlain, a French explorer. During the Revolutionary War, the lake was an important asset for allowing movement from the colonies to Canada and keeping New England a strong, connected force. It proved to be important in the military again in the War of 1812 for building ships, particularly out of Vergennes. The lake started to become a large tourist and recreational entity around 1945 after World War II. It is now a vital part of the communities that surround it.


About the Land

Carletons Prize late afternoon July 31 2002 Boget
Geography: Lake Champlain is part of two states and one province, Vermont, New York, and Quebec, and two countries, United States and Canada. The majority of the population in the basin are from the United States, with a ratio of 18:1. Vermont residents make up 72% of the United States population living in the basin. This gives Vermonters a great opportunity to really help protect the lake, but they can’t do it alone!


About the Sea

Champlain Sea
Ice Age: At the peak of the Ice Age, Vermont was covered by glaciers. The retreating ice compressed the rocks and allowed the Atlantic Ocean to create an inlet into what is now New England and Eastern Canada. This inlet was later named the Champlain Sea but was composed of mostly fresh water since it was constantly being fed with water from glacial melt. As the land started to rise again, the sea slowly shrunk forming the Lake Champlain we know today. Some of this information comes from Lake Champlain Basin Program.