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Manitowish Waters is a town located in Vilas County, Wisconsin, USA. It has a rich history dating back to the late 19th century. Here are some key points about the history of Manitowish Waters:

Native American Presence: The area now known as Manitowish Waters was originally inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Ojibwe (Chippewa) and Potawatomi. They were drawn to the region for its abundant natural resources, including fish, game, and wild rice.

Logging Era: In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the logging industry played a significant role in the development of the area. The vast forests of northern Wisconsin were logged extensively, and rivers like the Manitowish, Flambeau, and Turtle were used to transport logs to sawmills.

Resort Development: As the logging industry declined, the area began to transition towards tourism. Resorts and lodges started to pop up around the numerous lakes in the region. These resorts attracted visitors who were looking to escape the city and enjoy the natural beauty of the Northwoods.

The Great Depression and World War II: Like many places in the United States, Manitowish Waters was affected by the Great Depression and World War II. However, the tourism industry continued to be a significant economic driver for the town.

The Birth of the Northwoods: Manitowish Waters is often considered one of the birthplaces of the "Northwoods" culture, which celebrates outdoor activities like fishing, hunting, boating, and snowmobiling. This culture has become an important part of the identity of the region.

Conservation Efforts: The natural beauty of the area has been preserved in part due to the efforts of conservationists. The Manitowish Waters Chain of Lakes is known for its clear waters and scenic beauty, and efforts have been made to protect and preserve the environment.

Cranberry Farming: Cranberry farming has also played a role in the economy of Manitowish Waters. The area has suitable conditions for cranberry production, and some farms have been in operation for generations.

Modern Times: Today, Manitowish Waters continues to be a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. It offers a wide range of recreational activities including fishing, boating, hiking, snowmobiling, and more. The town has also maintained a relatively small population, with a focus on preserving its natural surroundings.

Cultural Significance: Manitowish Waters has a rich cultural heritage, with events and festivals celebrating its history and traditions. The town's historical society and local museums help preserve and share the stories of the area.

Overall, Manitowish Waters' history is closely tied to the natural beauty of the Northwoods and the industries that have emerged around it. It has evolved from a logging town to a beloved tourist destination, with a strong emphasis on preserving its natural environment.

Top Tourist Attractions

The Town offers a range of attractions for visitors looking to enjoy the natural beauty and recreational opportunities of the Northwoods. Here are some of the top tourist attractions in Manitowish Waters:

  • Manitowish Waters Chain of Lakes: This chain consists of ten interconnected lakes, offering excellent opportunities for boating, fishing, kayaking, and swimming. The crystal-clear waters and scenic surroundings make it a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
  • North Lakeland Discovery Center: This environmental education and interpretive center provides visitors with the opportunity to learn about the natural history and ecology of the Northwoods. It offers nature trails, educational programs, and hands-on exhibits.
  • Rest Lake Park: A beautiful public park located on Rest Lake, offering picnic areas, a swimming beach, a playground, and a boat launch. It's a great spot for a family outing or a relaxing day by the water.
  • Win-Man Trails: This network of cross-country ski and hiking trails winds through the forests around Manitowish Waters. In the winter, it's a popular spot for skiing and snowshoeing, while in the warmer months, it's ideal for hiking and birdwatching.
  • Koller Memorial Library: While not a traditional tourist attraction, this community library offers a welcoming space and often hosts events, presentations, and book clubs. It's a good place to learn about local history and culture.
  • Cranberry Marsh Tours: Manitowish Waters is located in an area known for cranberry farming. Some local farms offer guided tours, allowing visitors to learn about the cultivation of cranberries and even pick their own.
  • Fishing and Outdoor Activities: With its numerous lakes, Manitowish Waters is a haven for fishing enthusiasts. Anglers can find a variety of fish species, including muskellunge, walleye, bass, and panfish. Additionally, the area offers opportunities for hunting, hiking, biking, and snowmobiling.
  • Art Galleries and Studios: The town is home to several art galleries and studios showcasing the work of local artists. Visitors can browse and purchase paintings, sculptures, pottery, and other handmade crafts.
  • Events and Festivals: Manitowish Waters hosts various events throughout the year, including the annual "Music in the Park" summer concert series, art shows, craft fairs, and holiday celebrations. These events provide opportunities for cultural enrichment and community engagement.
  • Historical Sites: While not as numerous as natural attractions, Manitowish Waters does have some historical sites of interest. These include old logging campsites and remnants of the area's logging history.

The Town experiences a climate typical of the Upper Midwest of the United States. Here are some characteristics of the climate in Manitowish Waters:

  • Four Distinct Seasons: Manitowish Waters experiences four distinct seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter.
  • Cold Winters: Winters in Manitowish Waters can be cold and snowy. Average high temperatures in the winter months (December to February) range from the mid-teens to the low 30s Fahrenheit (-9°C to 0°C), while lows can drop well below freezing.
  • Snowfall: The area receives a significant amount of snowfall during the winter months, making it a popular destination for winter sports enthusiasts. Snowmobiling, skiing, snowshoeing, and ice fishing are popular activities in the region.
  • Mild Summers: Summers in Manitowish Waters are generally mild and pleasant. Average high temperatures in the summer months (June to August) range from the mid-70s to low 80s Fahrenheit (24-28°C), with lows in the 50s to low 60s Fahrenheit (10-16°C).
  • Humidity: The humidity levels in Manitowish Waters are typically moderate, especially during the summer months. The proximity to numerous lakes and forests can help moderate extreme humidity.
  • Fall Foliage: Autumn is a particularly beautiful time to visit Manitowish Waters, as the surrounding forests burst into a riot of colors. The cool, crisp air and vibrant foliage make it a popular destination for leaf-peeping.
  • Rainfall: Rainfall is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year, with slightly higher precipitation levels in the summer months. However, Manitowish Waters is known for its clear lakes, and the area is characterized by its pristine waters.
  • Thunderstorms: Like much of the Midwest, Manitowish Waters can experience thunderstorms, particularly in the warmer months. These storms can bring heavy rainfall and occasional lightning.
  • Freeze-Thaw Cycles: Due to the significant temperature variations between winter and summer, Manitowish Waters experiences freeze-thaw cycles. This can impact road conditions and outdoor activities.

It's important to note that weather can be unpredictable, and it's always a good idea to check local forecasts before planning any outdoor activities. Additionally, being prepared for a range of temperatures and weather conditions is advisable, especially if you plan to engage in outdoor activities in Manitowish Waters.


Its geography is characterized by the natural beauty of the Northwoods region. Here are some key features of Manitowish Waters' geography:

  • Chain of Lakes: One of the most prominent geographical features of Manitowish Waters is its Chain of Lakes. This chain consists of ten interconnected lakes, including Rest Lake, Spider Lake, and Island Lake, among others. These lakes are a focal point for recreational activities such as boating, fishing, and swimming.
  • Forests: The area is characterized by dense forests of hardwoods and conifers, which are part of the larger Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest. This forested landscape provides a habitat for a diverse range of wildlife and offers opportunities for activities like hiking and wildlife viewing.
  • Rivers and Streams: Manitowish Waters is surrounded by various rivers and streams, including the Manitowish River, the Flambeau River, and the Turtle River. These waterways contribute to the area's natural beauty and provide opportunities for activities like kayaking, canoeing, and fishing.
  • Glacial Features: The landscape of Manitowish Waters was shaped by glaciers during the last ice age. As a result, the region features many lakes, wetlands, and rugged terrain, including drumlins and moraines.
  • Cranberry Marshes: The area around Manitowish Waters is known for cranberry farming. Cranberry marshes are a unique feature of the landscape, and some farms offer tours where visitors can learn about the cultivation of this popular fruit.
  • Elevation: While Manitowish Waters is not known for significant elevation changes, it does have some gentle rolling hills. The highest point in Vilas County, Wisconsin's highest county, is located nearby, but it is not within Manitowish Waters itself.
  • Wetlands and Bogs: The region contains a number of wetlands and bogs, which are important ecosystems for various plant and animal species. These areas contribute to the overall biodiversity of the Northwoods.
  • Islands: Some of the larger lakes in Manitowish Waters have islands, adding to the scenic beauty and recreational opportunities. Island Lake, for example, features several small islands that are popular destinations for boaters.
  • Natural Reserves and Preserves: Manitowish Waters is located near several protected areas, including the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest and the Powell Marsh Wildlife Area. These reserves help conserve the natural beauty and ecological diversity of the region.

Overall, the geography of Manitowish Waters is characterized by its pristine lakes, lush forests, and abundant natural beauty. This makes it a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts looking to enjoy a wide range of recreational activities in a picturesque setting.