Lake Champlain Information

Lake Champlain lies between the U.S. states of New York and Vermont, and a small section extends north into the Canadian province of Quebec. The New York portion is in Clinton and Essex Counties. Most of this area is part of the 6.1-million-acre Adirondack Park. The Vermont portion is in Addison, Chittenden, Franklin, and Grand Isle Counties. The Quebec portion is in the regional county municipalities of Le Haut-Richelieu and Brome-Missisquoi. 

In 1990, the two countries signed into law the Lake Champlain Special Designation Act, which created the Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP). Several agencies jointly administer the LCBP which manage Lake Champlain: The US Environmental Protection Agency, New England and Region 2, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, Québec Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment, and the Fight against Climate Change, and New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission.

Lake Champlain covers 314,000 acres with 587 miles of shoreline, an average depth of 64 feet, and the deepest point is at 400 feet between Essex, New York, and Charlotte, Vermont. Lake Champlain is a natural lake and receives its waters from Lake George, the northwestern slopes of the Green Mountains, and the northernmost eastern peaks of the Adirondack Mountains. It is called the “Sixth Great Lake” because of its connection to the St. Lawrence Seaway via the Richelieu River and the the Champlain Canal. It has 71 islands with developed communities on the largest ones.

Drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians can cross the Grand Champlain Bridge from Addison, Vermont, to Crown Point, New York. Drivers can follow Route 2 across a mile-long causeway, a small drawbridge in North Hero, and a scenic bridge connecting Alburgh, Vermont, to Rouses Point, New York, in the Champlain Islands region. Drivers can cross the South Bay Bridge from Whitehall to Dresden, New York in the south. Three ferries cross the wider points from Charlotte, Vermont, to Essex, New York, from Burlington, Vermont, to Port Kent, New York, and from Grand Isle, Vermont, to Plattsburgh, New York. 

Lake Champlain History

Samuel de Champlain, French explorer, named Lake Champlain in 1609. Lake Champlain was a pivotal asset during the Revolutionary War because it allowed movement from the Colonies to Canada and kept New England a strong, connected force. The lake proved a strategic military strong point during the War of 1812 for building ships. Lake Champlain became a tourist and recreation attraction in 1945, after World War II. 

Glaciers melted and retreated further northward 13,000 to 9,000 years ago across the Northeastern U.S. and allowed saltwater from the Atlantic Ocean to enter the Champlain and St Lawrence valleys, which created Lake Champlain. Native Americans, the French, the British, and Americans used Lake Champlain as a corridor along which these factions fought over for control. Lake Champlain became territorial and political boundaries. 

Canals link Lake Champlain to the south, west, and north. The powers that be simultaneously constructed the Champlain Canal with the Erie Canal. It is a 60-mile canal that connects the south end of Lake Champlain to the Hudson River in New York. Construction on the Champlain Canal began in 1818 and officially opened in 1823. Increased shipping trade gave birth to the need for lighthouses and navigational aids. 

Eventually, Lake Champlain’s shipping lanes transported natural resources like Canadian timber, farm products, and people, and also sped communication resources as the U.S. expanded as a nation. The only commercial vessels on Lake Champlain after WWII were car ferries and some steel barges and diesel tug boats. Over a dozen museums are within easy driving distance from Lake Champlain, which highlight different aspects of Lake Champlain’s valuable natural and cultural history in relativity to United States history. 

Champlain Valley became a strong economic force in tourism and residential development in the 1950s. Residents began purchasing small pleasure boats. People began buying lakeshore property and recreational use created concern for Lake Champlain’s water quality and health by the 1970s. The development of reliable outboard motors for small boats enabled the masses to buy small boats for an inexpensive price, and the number of beachgoers increased.

Lake Champlain’s environmental and historical value has significantly increased since the 1990s in the U.S. and Canada. Lake Champlain and its tributaries possess a magnificent array of ecosystems which support wildlife and diverse resources for residents and tourists. This lake provides water for over 200,000 people in both countries. Public support for Lake Champlain’s ecological health, plus residents and tourists, has helped to turn Lake Champlain into a remarkable economic vehicle for two U.S. states and Canada. 

Lake Champlain Fishing

Lake Champlain supports over 90 species of fish. The most popular game species in Lake Champlain are largemouth, rock, and smallmouth bass, bluegill, channel catfish, black crappie, muskellunge, white and yellow perch, northern pike, chain pickerel, sauger, sturgeon, pumpkinseed sunfish, brown, lake, and rainbow trout, and walleye. Lake Champlain’s healthy population of smelt attracts the game species. Anglers consider Lake Champlain bass fishing is considered the best of all the lakes in the Northeast U.S.

When fishing the waters of Lake Champlain, anglers legally need to consider the fishing regulations and jurisdictions of New York State, Vermont, and Canada. In New York waters, New York State and Vermont have reciprocal fishing license regulations. In Vermont, anglers need a Vermont fishing license. The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department’s Fish Division and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation manage the Lake Champlain fishery.

 Anglers need to be aware that while either license is valid to fish in the New York portions of Lake Champlain, each state has its own restrictions pertaining to species restrictions, length limits and seasons, etc. Anglers need to know which state waters they are fishing in and abide by the fishing restrictions of that state. In Quebec, Lake Champlain is in Zone 8 of the province’s 23 fishing zones. 

Anglers can buy a Quebec license online. However, they need a passport on their person to cross between the U.S./Canadian border in a boat on Lake Champlain in either country. Per the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA): A proof of citizenship and identification and a Canadian or U.S. passport, U.S. Passport card, Trusted Traveler Program cards like Nexus or Sentri, or State or Provincial issued enhanced driver's license, is required of all on board when entering Canada or the U.S. on water bodies. 

Per the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI): Canadian citizens aged 16 years and older must present one of the following documents when entering the United States by land or water with a: valid passport, Trusted Traveler Program card, enhanced driver’s license (EDL), or enhanced identification card (EIC) from a province or territory where a U.S. approved EDL/EIC program has been implemented, or Secure Certificate of Indian Status.

Lake Champlain fishing offers an array of experiences from early spring to late fall. Trout and salmon season begins on Lake Champlain’s tributaries in early April and then into the lakes and ponds as ice-out thaws through April and May. May brings in the walleye and pike seasons. Summer is the start of bass season with outstanding fishing for largemouth and smallmouth bass. 

Catch perch and sunfish throughout the year. The Lake Champlain fishing season stretches into winter for hearty anglers. Shore fishing is available in many areas, but fishing from a boat provides much more fishing success. Lake Champlain is 125-miles long and deep in the center portion from Port Henry to Cumberland Head, where it provides successful bass, landlocked salmon, and lake trout. 

In spring and fall, anglers stay close to shore. In summer, they journey out to open water. The most fruitful key to bagging a large amount of fish on Lake Champlain is to follow the schools of smelt. Locate smallmouth bass on the rock shoals and shorelines. Weedy areas house largemouth bass and northern pike. Fishing for largemouth bass is more productive from north of Crown Point to south of Port Henry. 

Lake Champlain produces some trophy landlocked salmon, trout, walleye, and other fish, but they are challenging to catch because of its depths. Lake Champlain is a bass fishing haven and hosts numerous bass tournaments annually. Over a dozen boat launches and a dozen marinas surround Lake Champlain. Lake Champlain fishing guides offer a variety of fishing charters for whatever fish species you want to go after. 

Check out experienced local pro guides on our Lake Champlain Fishing Guides page. 

Boating Lake Champlain

Lake Champlain is the Adirondack Park’s largest lake, and the ideal lake to launch your boat, whether you like to paddle, sail, or motor. Towering mountains, rocky cliffs, and rolling fields define the landscape surrounding the waters of Lake Champlain. The lake offers magnificent views of Canada, New York, and Vermont with limitless activities, like fishing, ice fishing, swimming, and exploring. Depart from one of the many public launches. 

A boater's paradise awaits you with expansive waterways, sheltered bays, sandy shores, and secluded places to lower anchor. Boating on Lake Champlain is the ideal way to experience one of the largest lakes that the U.S. offers in the northeastern Atlantic region. There are 71 island shorelines to visit. Over 300 shipwrecks sleep with the fish in Lake Champlain.

Exciting scuba diving adventures include the shipwrecks of the U.S. La Vallee, the General Butler, the O.J. Walker, the Horse Powered Ferry, and the Coal Barge. Drysuit diving is highly recommended because water temperatures range from the 40s to a high of about 72 degrees in summer. Visibility ranges from 10 to 30 feet. Numerous marinas provide rentals for any boats and gear that visitors and residents may want. 

Boaters need to know the rules of the road and heed lighthouse and navigational aid directions. The navigation season on Lake Champlain runs from late April through late December when ice typically forms in shallower parts of the lake. Ice cover, at 100% on Lake Champlain, when it happens, occurs between mid-February and early March. Lake Champlain is part of the Great Loop. You can visit Lakehub’s article on the Great Loop here: (ADD GREAT LOOP LINK)

Shop or sell a boat on our Lake Champlain Boats for Sale page. 

Plan your trip to Lake Champlain by calling one of the marinas today on our Lake Champlain Marinas page. 


Lake Champlain Real Estate

Lake Champlain homes for sale comprise a large market for lake homes and land in New York and Vermont. In the states, typically between 200 and 250 listings are available at any given time. Homes price points on Lake Champlain range from $80,000 to $4 million. Mansions occupy the Lake Champlain islands and shoreline. 

U.S. residents can own property in Canada without becoming a resident of Canada, but must report income or proceeds from a sale to both country's taxing authorities. Canadian banks offer mortgages and home equity loans with similar financing terms to those extended in the U.S.

There are no restrictions on Canadians purchasing property in the United States. Canadians need to go through the same process as can any U.S. home buyer, including getting a mortgage, securing insurance, and paying closing costs. They may also be required to pay taxes on their purchase.

Lake Champlain is well developed in both states, but Canada is more rural. Shopping, service, restaurants, and nightlife abound all around the lake and on its islands. Plenty of school districts in the U.S. surround the lake. The Plattsburgh International Airport, Montreal, Canada, the Montréal-Trudeau International Airport, Canada, and the Burlington International Airport, Vermont, serve Lake Champlain. 

To find your dream home, explore our Lake Champlain Homes for Sale page. 

Lake Champlain Cabin Rentals

The shores of Lake Champlain are highly developed, so there are tons of rental options available that are ideal for budgets of all sizes, ranging from quaint cabins to mansions. From cabins with mountain views to secluded lakeside retreats, Lake Champlain offers all of them. The islands of Lake Champlain provide the most wonderful rentals for visitors. Private entities and state parks offer memory-making cottage and cabin rentals for any size of party.  

Find the perfect vacation home on our Lake Champlain Cabins page. 

Lake Champlain Camping

Thirteen state parks in New York State and Vermont provide RV and tent camping on the shores and the islands of Lake Champlain and six campgrounds in Canada offer outdoor enthusiasts some of the best beautiful and natural experiences that North America could possibly give to humanity. Gorgeous mountains and rolling plains adorned with forests, farmlands, and opulent development frame Lake Champlain. 

Lake Champlain RV park’s amenities include cabin and cottage rentals, tent, and RV camping, laundry facilities, plus access to beaches boating, camping, canoeing and kayaking, cycling, fishing, hiking, arts and culture, scuba diving, shopping, sports, summer and winter activities, swimming and swimming pools, tours, and all types of watersports. Several of the islands in Vermont have state parks on them for camping and cabins. 

The Canadian end of Lake Champlain camping offers the same services as the U.S. campgrounds with tent and RV camping, and cabins for rent. Again, if you wander from the U.S. into Canada or Canada into the U.S. you must have your passport on your person. There are three highways between the two countries at Lake Champlain, U.S. Route 11 in New York, NY 225  between New York and Vermont, and I-85 in Vermont.

Check out our list of campgrounds and RV parks for your family adventure on our Lake Champlain Camping page. 

Hiking Lake Champlain

The Champlain Area Trails System (CATS) comprises over 200 miles of hiking trails on the western New York border of the lake with 58 trails. Many of them are easy, eight are ADA accessible, 24 follow the shoreline, 60 trail miles are for cycling, and quite a few are in 11 parks. These trails meander through forests, mountains, towns with town-to-town walks, wetlands, and waterfalls. 

In Canada, hikers can check out a few trails on this small section of Lake Champlain in its parks. The Empire State Trail is 750-miles, and its Champlain Valley section runs from Albany, New York to Canada in New York. Most of this trail follows along Lake Champlain, plus there are a few canoe/kayak launches along its way. The town-to-town walks are much further inland from the shoreline.

Some of the best trails in Vermont are on its islands and near the eastern border of Lake Champlain. There are several trails near Burlington, and Essex, New York, and St. Albans, and Swanton, New York. These trails have spectacular views of Lake Champlain and the Green Mountains. The skill levels range from easy to strenuous. 

Lake Champlain Things to Do

There are tons of waterfront Lake Champlain Restaurants in New York and Vermont, and a few in Canada, with great food, great views, and great atmospheres offering a wide variety of local and other cuisines. There are two golf courses on Grand Isle and the Alburg Peninsula, two off of I-89 in Vermont, four on the New York shores, and two in Canada on Lake Champlain. 

The Lake Champlain region is chock-full of history with museums, arts venues, historical landmarks, sites, and towns, wildlife viewing opportunities, waterfront parks, working farms, farmer’s markets, ferries and boat tours, waterfalls, breweries and wineries. In New York, interesting sites line the historic hamlets of Essex, Keeseville, Westport, Fort Ticonderoga, and Port Henry and are wonderful places for self-guided walking tours.  

In Vermont, there are the ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, and innovative science and nature center, schooner and sailing tours, Andy A. Dog Williams Skate Park on the lake, Champlain Valley Dinner Train, farmer’s markets, Ethan Allen Homestead, scavenger hunts, smart phone-guided walking tours, and piers and boathouses to visit. 

Plan your trip on our What To Do At Lake Champlain page.

Lake Champlain Weather & Climate

Lake Champlain sees an average of 32 inches of rain per year, with 54 inches of snow, and 159 days of sunshine. The winter low in January is 8 degrees and a summer high in July of 79 degrees. June, July, and August are the most comfortable months for this region. January and February are the least comfortable months. 

Keep your eyes on the skies with our Lake Champlain Weather Forecast page. 

Lake Champlain Zip Codes

Clinton County, New York: 12901, 12902, 12919, 12921, 12972, 12992.

Essex County, New York: 12861, 12883, 12928, 12936, 12944, 12960, 12974, 12993,


Addison County, Vermont: 05456, 05473, 05491, 05734, 05743, 05760.

Chittenden County, Vermont: 05401, 05403, 05408, 05445, 05446,  05468, 05482. 

Franklin County, Vermont: 05478, 05488. 

Grand Isle County, Vermont: 05440, 05458, 05486.

Lake Champlain, Quebec, Canada: JOJ 1BO, JOJ 1JO, JOJ 1NO, JOJ 1TO.

Lake Champlain Email Updates


Lake Champlain Current Weather Alerts

There are no active watches, warnings or advisories.


Lake Champlain Weather Forecast


Mostly Sunny

Hi: 52

Friday Night


Lo: 32


Mostly Sunny

Hi: 49

Saturday Night


Lo: 31


Partly Sunny

Hi: 48

Sunday Night

Mostly Clear

Lo: 30


Partly Sunny

Hi: 50

Monday Night

Chance Rain Showers

Lo: 34

Lake Champlain Water Level (last 30 days)

Water Level on 3/30: 97.85 (-2.15)

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