I was watching a documentary the other day about the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench, the deepest part of any ocean on the planet. Its depth has been measured at 11,034 meters, or since we're all Americans here, 36,201 feet. That's 6.85 miles deep.

Since Illinois is, the last time I looked at a map, a state that borders no oceans (only a really big lake), it made me wonder what the deepest deep water spot in Illinois is, and which lake you'd find it in.

Scale indicating water level in a lake in Berlin, Germany
Getty Images

The State Of Illinois Has A Lot More Bodies Of Water Than I Realized

Maybe you're a little bit more plugged into lake, pond, and reservoir counts in Illinois than I am, but while doing some background on this piece I was surprised to learn that Illinois has, according to Ilinois.gov:

  • More than 2,900 lakes
  • 84,000-plus ponds
  • 3 large reservoirs

If we were just trying to name Illinois' biggest lake, it would be much simpler because of that huge wet spot just east of Chicago's loop, also known as Lake Michigan. With a surface area of 23,000 square miles and a shoreline length of 1,800 miles, nothing even comes close in Illinois.

Devil's Kichen Lake, Joe Hiker, Facebook
Devil's Kichen Lake, Joe Hiker, Facebook

For Illinois' Deepest Lake, Head South Of Rockford To The Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge Between Marion And Carbondale In Williamson County, Illinois

That's where you'll find Devil's Kitchen Lake, an 810 acre reservoir that was created created by the damming of Grassy Creek, a tributary of Crab Orchard Lake, and the Big Muddy River.

Devil's Kitchen Lake, with a 24-mile coastline, boasts a maximum depth of 90 feet, making it Illinois' deepest "inland" lake. According to EnjoyIllinois.com, "it is stocked with rainbow and brown trout and provides largemouth bass, bluegill, sunfish, crappie, channel catfish, bullheads, and carp."

Devil's Kitchen Lake in fog. (Kenney Epplin, Facebook)
Devil's Kitchen Lake in fog. (Kenney Epplin, Facebook)

While Devil's Kitchen Lake Is Illinois' Deepest Inland Lake, Lake Michigan Is Still A Lot Deeper

Just based on the water's surface, Lake Michigan is 321 miles long, and 118 miles wide at its widest point. Lake Michigan is also the 4th largest freshwater lake on Earth (Lake Superior, Lake Victoria, and Lake Huron are bigger).

According to A-Z-Animals.com, Lake Michigan is so large that to lower the lake's water level by only one inch, you'd have to drain over 400 billion gallons from it.

As to the depths of Lake Michigan, it's the 9th deepest lake in the country, with an average depth of 279 feet, and a maximum depth of 925 feet (enough to cover all but 8 stories of the John Hancock Center, and all but 16 stories of the Sears...I mean Willis Tower).

LOOK: Here are the best lake towns to live in

Many of the included towns jump out at the casual observer as popular summer-rental spots--the Ozarks' Branson, Missouri, or Arizona's Lake Havasu--it might surprise you to dive deeper into some quality-of-life offerings beyond the beach and vacation homes. You'll likely pick up some knowledge from a wide range of Americana: one of the last remaining 1950s-style drive-ins in the Midwest; a Florida town that started as a Civil War veteran retirement area; an island boasting some of the country's top public schools and wealth-earners right in the middle of a lake between Seattle and Bellevue; and even a California town containing much more than Johnny Cash's prison blues.

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