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Day Lake

No. 189


Photo by Thomas A. Meyer/DNR


Extremely scenic and undeveloped, Day Lake is a 117-acre seepage lake with very sterile, exceptionally clear water. The lake's sandy bed is visible in 28 feet of water and supports an excellent example of "sterile rosette flora" - small, stiff-leaved plants that hug the bottom. These small plants are indicative of very soft water conditions.

The specialized flora includes water lobelia and quillwort. Other aquatic plants include dwarf water milfoil, seven-angle pipewort, small waterwort, and narrow-leaved bur-reed. Emergent vegetation consisting of the sweet gale, leather-leaf, alder, and three-way sedge forms a zone along the lakeshore. The lake has a watershed of only 510 acres and 3.5 miles of gravelly upland shoreline. Bass and panfish comprise the fishery. Two primitive campsites on the lakeshore may be reserved. Day Lake is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 1983.

Very few State Natural Areas have public facilities, but nearly all are open for various recreational activities as indicated below. Generally, there are no picnic areas, restrooms, or other developments. Parking lots or designated parking areas are noted on individual SNA pages and maps. Trails, if present, are typically undesignated footpaths. If a developed trail is present, it will normally be noted on the SNA map under the Maps tab. A compass and topographic map or a GPS unit are useful tools for exploring larger, isolated SNAs.

The good majority of SNAs are isolated and have few or no facilities. Some SNAs have vehicle access lanes or parking lots, but their accessibility may vary depending on weather conditions. Parking lots and lanes are not plowed during winter. Hiking trails may be nonexistent or consist of undeveloped footpaths. A GPS unit or compass and a detailed topographic map are useful tools for exploring larger SNAs.

Entrance fees: Except for Parfrey's Glen, the Cambrian Outlook in the Dells of the Wisconsin River, SNAs within State Parks and some within State Forests, all other DNR-owned SNAs do not have any admission fees. For more information, see Wis. Admin. Code NR 45. For non-DNR-owned SNAs, we are unaware of any vehicle or admission fees. However, please contact the landowner for more information.

Allowable activities: DNR-owned land

The activities listed below are generally allowed on all DNR-owned SNA lands. Exceptions to this list of public uses, such as SNAs closed to hunting, are noted above and posted with signs on the property site.

  • Hiking
  • Fishing
  • Cross country skiing
  • Hunting
  • Trapping
  • Scientific research (permit required)
  • Outdoor education
  • Wild edibles (What is this?)
  • Pets (Rules)
  • Wildlife viewing

Prohibited activities: all SNAs

  • Camping and campfires
  • Collecting of animals (other than legally harvested species), non-edible fungi, rocks, minerals, fossils, archaeological artifacts, soil, downed wood, or any other natural material alive or dead.
  • Collecting for scientific research requires a permit issued by the DNR
  • Collecting of plants including seeds, roots or other non-edible parts of herbaceous plants such as wildflowers or grasses
  • Geocaching
  • Horseback riding
  • Rock climbing
  • Vehicles, including bicycles, ATVs, aircraft, and snowmobiles except on trails and roadways designated for their use.

For rules governing state-owned SNAs and other state lands, please consult Chapter NR 45 Wis. Admin. Code [exit DNR].


Within the Northern Highland American Legion State Forest, Vilas County. T41N-R6E, Sections 1, 2. 209 acres.

Driving directions

From the intersection of Highways 51 and 47 in Woodruff, go north on Highway 51 for 10 miles, then north and west on Day Lake Road for 3.5 miles, then south on Day Lake Landing Road for 0.2 miles to a boat landing at the north end of Day Lake. The lake and shoreline are best explored by canoe or kayak. It has more than 3.5 miles of undeveloped shoreline, making for an enjoyable paddle. Electric motors only are permitted on the lake.

The DNR's state natural areas program comprises lands owned by the state, private conservation organizations, municipalities, other governmental agencies, educational institutions, and private individuals. While most SNAs are open to the public, access may vary according to individual ownership policies. Public use restrictions may apply due to public safety, or to protect endangered or threatened species or unique natural features. Lands may be temporarily closed due to specific management activities.

Users are encouraged to contact the landowner for more specific details. The data shown on these maps have been obtained from various sources, and are of varying age, reliability, and resolution. The data may contain errors or omissions and should not be interpreted as a legal representation of legal ownership boundaries. To create your custom map where you can zoom to a specific location, please use the DNR's Mapping Application.

Property map [PDF]



Day Lake is owned by: Wisconsin DNR