TURTLE FLAMBEAU FLOWAGE
Acres of Water, 212 Miles of Shoreline
90% State Owned, 195 Islands for use in
Fishing, Hunting, Camping, Canoeing and Nature
your boat into the water, take it out far enough to lose
sight of the landing, and just look around. In a moment,
you are surrounded by a natural treat of wild beauty:
tall stands of pine and birch crowd the shoreline, a
pair of loons dives in a quiet bay, and high overhead, a
bald eagle circles. This is no fleeting moment. This
view, these sounds will remain.
You don't have to drive 12 to 14 hours to
There are no portages while canoeing and
camping on the Turtle Flambeau Flowage, all
points are accessible by water.
There are 60 state camp sites, free of
The Flowage has the highest number of bald
eagle, osprey, and common loon breeding
pairs in Wisconsin.
Six and one-half hours from Chicago, 5 hours
from Milwaukee, 4 hours from Madison, and
1/2 Hour north of Minocqua, US Hwy 51.
rugged Turtle-Flambeau Flowage near Mercer in Iron
County will remain in public ownership and public
management. Its scenic beauty will not fall victim to
fragmented development along its shores, and its wild
character will be preserved for future generations to
Turtle-Flambeau Flowage was created in 1926 when the
Chippewa and Flambeau Improvement Company built a dam on
the Flambeau River downstream from its confluence with
the Turtle River. The dam flooded 16 natural lakes and
formed an impoundment of approximately 14,000 acres.
The flowage was constructed as a reservoir to augment
river flows and sustain hydroelectric plants operated
downstream by electric utilities and paper mills. The
dam also provided flood protection and created a unique
early resorts located around the 16 lakes were flooded
and forced to move -- some chose higher ground, others
left the area. As compensation for property lost when
the flowage was built, property owners were offered
money or adjacent land. Most chose a cash settlement and
the shoreline today remains sparsely developed.
flowage, in turn, attracted more tourists. What had been
good fishing before became even better, and more people
came to test the waters. New resorts opened to service
the reinvigorated tourist trade.
the years these resorts have had many visitors, some of
them notorious. John Dillinger frequented the area. Al
Capone, the Chicago gangster, fished the flowage many
times, especially in the years after his release from
prison. Charlie Comiskey, founder of the White Sox
baseball team, used Jerome's Hunting and Fishing Club on
Trude Lake as a place for rest and relaxation for
himself and his team.
1990 , the Stewardship Fund and gubernatorial support
allowed the state to acquire 22,343 acres from Chippewa
and Flambeau Improvement Company, including lands
submerged by the flowage -- about 95 percent of the
shoreline and adjacent lands. With additional
acquisitions, state ownership now comprises
approximately 27,000 acres including over 300 miles of
shoreline and 195 islands.
flowage is managed by the Department of Natural
Resources using a master plan developed with citizen
advice. Management practices aim to perpetuate the
natural character of the shoreline, preserve its scenic
qualities and protect its plant and animal communities.
Managers strive to preserve the quality and wealth of
outdoor recreation on the flowage including fishing,
hunting, camping, nature observation, trapping, boating
The Turtle-Flambeau Scenic Waters Area is accessible
from seven public boat landings and from private
resorts. Springstead Landing, on the south side of the
flowage off State Highway 182, offers the best launching
facilities and largest parking area. In addition to the
six state-run landings, the county park at the
northernmost end of the flowage offers a boat ramp and
public access on Highway FF, just below Lake of the
on the Turtle-Flambeau Flowage can be memorable in many
ways. You need to exercise caution. The flowage has an
abundance of stumps, logs, floating driftwood, and rock
bars. This variety makes good fish and wildlife habitat,
but it can damage boats, particularly the lower units
and props of motors. Water levels continue to be raised
or lowered to benefit downstream hydroelectric plants.
Even if you think you know your way around, these
changing conditions and fluctuating water levels mean
you must slow way down to navigate the waters.
Activities like water skiing and jet skiing are
definitely not advisable here. A voluntary quiet area
has also been set aside on approximately the eastern
fifth of the flowage from the narrows near Blair Lake
upstream to the property boundary near the confluence of
the Bear and Manitowish rivers. This promotes an
atmosphere of quiet solitude for those seeking a
wilderness-type experience. Many anglers, canoers, and
campers, come to the flowage seeking those reflective
A wild, wonderful river for a quiet outdoor
We want to preserve that atmosphere. Flowage managers
ask that slow-no-wake boating be observed in the quiet
area. Boat wakes are unwelcome by anglers and canoers in
any situation, but courtesy is especially the byword in
the quiet area which we manage as a sort of human refuge
for peaceful fishing, canoeing and camping experiences.
The Turtle-Flambeau Scenic Waters Area offers 60
remote campsites accessible by water only. These sites
are available year-round on a first-come , first-served
basis. There is no camping fee, but camping on the
flowage is restricted to designated sites. Each is
identified with a site number and is equipped with a
steel fire ring and an open air pit toilet. A few sites
have picnic tables. Information on campsite locations
and rules can be obtained from the Department of Natural
Resources Ranger Station at Mercer.
a few of the ground rules will help you plan your visit.
The number of campsites is limited and they often fill
up, especially on weekends. Do not plan to arrive at 6
p.m. on a Friday night and expect to find a nearby
vacant campsite. You may want to plan a mid-week or
off-season vacation if you are thinking of camping on
the flowage. It is best to arrive by midday so you have
time to scout out several sites. Make an alternative
plan in case all sites are full when you arrive.
Additional camping opportunities are provided at an Iron
County Park located off County Highway FF where the
Turtle River enters the flowage.
resorts also provide campsites that range from rustic to
"full hook-up" facilities. These can be reserved ahead
is a 10-day limit on camping at all state campsites
within the Turtle-Flambeau Scenic Waters Area. When you
set up camp, you must occupy the site the first night of
your visit and you may not leave it unoccupied for more
than one night thereafter. The DNR regularly checks
campsites and visitors may not leave unattended camping
equipment to "save" a site. Fires may only be built in
fire rings. Visitors are allowed to gather wood that is
"dead and down" for cooking and warming fires, however,
standing trees may not be cut. Standing dead "snag"
trees provide valuable wildlife habitat and they are
protected. Power saws may not be used to chunk up wood
that has been gathered.
of the campsites receive heavy use and firewood is
becoming scarce. If you are planning a camping trip,
consider bringing firewood with you. Several local
businesses sell bundled wood for that purpose. We also
ask that campers not try to burn driftwood. Generally
driftwood is water-logged and does not burn well, even
if it appears dry on the outside. Moreover, driftwood
provides valuable fish and wildlife habitat, and adds to
the unique character of the flowage; it is rapidly
disappearing through natural processes and from illegal
harvest. Removal of driftwood from the property is
prohibited by law.
service is not provided at the campsites. All refuse
must be carried out with you. Also plan on packing in
all your drinking water. The lake water is not
considered potable and campsites are not equipped with
wells or drinking water taps.
Open, quiet spaces
The Turtle-Flambeau Scenic Waters Area offers the
opportunity to camp, fish and enjoy the outdoors in a
scenic, wilderness setting. The undisturbed wooded
shorelines and islands make the flowage unique. If you
visit the property , please help us protect that setting
by leaving no trace of your visit.
bordering the flowage varies from level terrain to
steeply rolling hills. The woodlands consist primarily
of aspen, northern hardwoods and white birch. Scattered
old-growth hemlock and pine provide top-quality nesting
habitat for eagles and osprey. Grass openings scattered
throughout the forest add habitat diversity and increase
the variety and total numbers of wildlife.
forest surrounding the Turtle-Flambeau Scenic Waters
Area is managed to protect fish, wildlife and the
flowage’s scenic qualities. A 300-foot aesthetic zone
buffers the entire shoreline in which no timber
harvesting will occur. A number of other areas receive
special management to protect unique natural
communities. Lands more than 300 feet from the shore
which are still visible from the water will be
selectively harvested to protect the view within a
well-managed forest. Timber harvests in certain areas
of the property which are not visible from the flowage
may be more extensive to provide wood and create more
diverse habitat. For instance, clear-cutting aspen
promotes regeneration from sprouts. Young, brushy aspen
stands benefit grouse, deer and many other wildlife
species. Such cuts will only be considered in areas not
visible from the water, and will be carefully laid out
to provide a "natural" appearing forest.
Turtle-Flambeau Flowage has the highest density of bald
eagle, osprey and common loon breeding pairs in
Wisconsin. The flowage is also home to herons, black
terns, merlins and an occasional cormorant.
and scores of other birds can be
spotted at the flowage.
Shorebirds and migratory waterfowl use the flowage as a
breeding and staging area as they pass through the
state. Nesting waterfowl include mallards, wood ducks,
hooded mergansers, ring-necked ducks, and Canada geese.
addition to the many birds, the flowage is also home to
deer, bear, raccoon, fisher, beaver, otter, and other
furbearers as well as many species of reptiles and
amphibians. On rare occasions, timber wolves and moose
are sighted here.
flowage has many quiet bays and islands to explore.
There are ample opportunities to observe and enjoy
wildlife in this remote and wild setting. Visitors are
asked to approach wildlife slowly and quietly. Be
particularly careful not to disturb nesting birds or
animals with small young.
For the shoreline visitor, a self-guided auto tour
booklet provides interpretive information on habitats
and management of lands surrounding the flowage. The
Dead Horse Lake Ruffed Grouse Demonstration Area near
the northern edge of the property showcases management
techniques and principles to promote grouse habitat. The
area includes a number of trails where both hunters and
hikers are welcome.
4816 County Hwy FF
Mercer, WI 54547
Proud Members of the
site and all pages herein have been designed by and are
by the Internet Specialists at
a division of
and are the property of Flambeau Lodging.
Copyright © 2017-2018 Flambeau Lodging All Rights
Great places to stay, cabin rentals, snowmobile, fishing on the Turtle
Flambeau Flowage, pet friendly, near Mercer & Springstead in the
Northwoods of Wisconsin