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Lake George Facts and FAQs
Lake George is rich with history — and rich with lore. The Lake George Association’s goal is to separate fact from fiction and correct the record about “facts” that have circulated about the Lake. Here are the answers to many Frequently Asked Questions about Lake George.
If you are looking for facts about Lake George, or details about the “Queen of American Lakes,” you will find it here.
Please scroll to read the information or click one of the twelve topical links here:
The Lake George Association, which saves Lake George every day with our in-the-ground projects that protect Lake George water by reducing stormwater and pollution runoff among other problems, has been the repository of knowledge about Lake George and the watershed for more than a century.
If you have any questions that are not answered on this page, please call us at 518-668-3558 or email us at [email protected]
Lake George Facts
No. of Islands:
Lake Surface Area:
45 sq. miles
Elevation above Sea Level:
Watershed Max. Elevation:
233 sq. miles
Shoreline: 176 miles (20 miles of which are state owned and about 40 miles of which are “island shorelines” and not “lake edge shoreline”)
Volume of Water: 550 billion gallons Sources of Water: Streams 55%, Precipitation on lake surface 27%, Groundwater 18%
Number of streams and storm sewers: 141. Eight major streams: West, East, English, Northwest Bay, Finkle, Indian, Hague, and Shelving Rock.
Can you drink the water in Lake George?
Absolutely. Many people have historically drawn drinking water from Lake George and many continue to do so, according to the LGA’s Watershed Data Atlas. Lake George is designated a Class AA-Special water body in New York State. This designation prohibits the disposal of floating solids, oil, sludge, toxic wastes, other “deleterious” substances or wastes, heated liquids, sewage, or other waste effluents in the water. Learn more about Lake George being drinking water here.
Can I take a bath in the Lake, or wash my dishes or clothing in the Lake?
No one is allowed to use any soaps or detergents in Lake George, as that will damage the water quality. The Lake George Park Commission, in its role as state regulatory agency of the Lake, prohibits such acts. See the Park Commission’s Water Quality Protection rules here.
How long does it take the water to reach the outflow?
Lake George flows south to north but has a significant retention time. It takes about 8 years for the water to reach the outflow at the northern end of the lake.
How many mountains surround Lake George? A variety of mountains surround Lake George: Prospect, Tongue, Shelving Rock, Buck, Little Buck, Sleeping Beauty, Pilot Knob, French, Black, Cat, Thomas and Cook.
What is a watershed?
A watershed is the area of land where all of the water that is under it or drains off of it goes into the same place. Watersheds come in all shapes and sizes. They cross county, state, and national boundaries. In the continental US, there are 2,110 watersheds; including Hawaii Alaska, and Puerto Rico, there are 2,262 watersheds (USGS).
How large is the Lake George Watershed?
The Lake George watershed area — including every place where water can drain into Lake George — is 233 square miles, or more than two-thirds the size of New York City.
How is Lake level managed?
The lake level is managed at an outlet dam (the “A Mill” dam) and a penstock (a pipe ten feet in diameter) located at the hydroelectric power plant at the entrance of the La Chute River in Ticonderoga. The dam, built in 1903 and currently owned by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, is located about three-quarters of a mile beyond the natural rock dam at Ticonderoga. When the water level is high, the dam and penstock offer a means of discharging the excess water into the river and out of the Lake. At present, the Lake George Park Commission is responsible for managing the lake level under an agreement with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation in cooperation with La Chute Hydro, Inc. The lake level typically varies between 319 and 320 feet above sea level with flood stage at 320.5 ft. Lake level is monitored in real time by the US Geological Survey through a gauge station north or Rogers Rock. Official records of lake levels on Lake George date back to July of 1913.
How do I register my boat and/or dock?
State Law requires that, in addition to registration required by the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles, any vessel 18 feet or longer and any vessel mechanically propelled by 10 h.p. or greater, must register with the Lake George Park Commission and display a registration decal. The Lake George Park Commission also has a dock registration program. Call the Lake George Park Commission at 518-668-9347 or visit their website here.
Do I need to get my boat inspected before I can launch into Lake George?
Yes. You need to ensure that your trailered boat is “Cleaned, Drained and Dry” before being launched into Lake George, or it will need to be cleaned. All trailered boats are required to be inspected and possibly decontaminated before being allowed to launch. The inspections are done by the Lake George Park Commission to ensure that invasive species are not being carried into Lake George. Inspections and any decontamination are performed at no cost to the boater.The Lake George Association has been contributing $30,000 a year since the program’s inception. It was developed from the LGA’s Lake Steward program which was a voluntary inspection program . For more information, please see the Lake George Park Commission’s Boat Inspection website.
How old do you have to be to operate a boat and/or PWC and do I need a boating certificate? NYS requires all persons regardless of age must complete a safe boating course to operate a PWC. Anyone born after 1996 must complete an approved eight-hour safety course to operate a power boat without direct adult supervision.
Are there special boating rules for Lake George?
Yes, contact the Lake George Park Commission, 518-668-9347 visit their website here.
Do I need a sealed head on my boat to launch it on Lake George? Yes, by law all boats having toilet facilities must have a sealed holding device to prevent discharge into Lake George. Many marinas around the lake are equipped to with pump-out facilities to empty holding tanks.
What marinas have pump-out facilities?
Boardwalk Rest. 518-668-4828
Castaway Marina 518-656-3636
Dunham’s Bay Sea Ray 518-656-9244
Fischer’s Marina 518-656-9981
Hall’s Boat Co, 518-668-5437
Harris Bay Yacht Club 518-656-9028
Lake George Boat Co. 518-656-9203
Mooring Post Marina 518-656-9206
Yankee Boating Center 518-668-2862
North Basin: Bolton Landing Marina 518-644-3474
Norowal Marina 518-644-3741
Performance Marina 518-644-3080
Mossy Point, Ticonderoga , No charge, (no phone)
Camping Best Practices
How do I reserve a state campsite on the islands or state campground? Please visit the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation or Reserve America web pages or by calling 1-800-456-CAMP to find information about the islands on Lake George. You may also contact the NYS DEC Camping facilities directly at Long Island: 518-656-9426; Glen Island: 518-644-9696; Narrows: 518-499-1288.
When I rent or camp, what can I do to help protect the Lake?
Ensure that your boat, kayak, canoe and other water craft are “Cleaned, Drained and Dry” before before you put them in the lake. Trailered boats are now required to be inspected before being allowed to launch. The inspections are done by the Lake George Park Commission to ensure that invasive species are not being carried into Lake George. Inspection and decontamination are performed at no cost to the boater. The Lake George Association is contributing $30,000 to pay for part of the program in 2015. For more information, please see the Lake George Park Commission’s Boat Inspection website.
Why can’t I feed the ducks and Canada Geese?
Ducks, Geese, and gulls have a natural survival rhythm. Our interruptions of their routine creates a destructive cycle which breaks the animals of their instinctual habits. By feeding waterfowl things like popcorn, bread, crackers and potato chips, we make them dependent on our handouts and provide them with less nutritious foods than they naturally would find for themselves. Learn more about nuisance wildlife here.
What fish are in Lake George?
Lake George has a “two-story” fishery; both warm water fish, such as perch, bass, and sunfish and cold water fish, such as lake trout and salmon, are found in the Lake. There are 36 fish species in the Lake George watershed. Learn more about the fish of Lake George here.
Do I need a license to fish in Lake George?
Yes, persons 16 or over must have a license. They can be purchased at local bait shops and town and village offices.
When do ice shanties have to be removed from the ice surface? NYS/DEC requires all shanties must be removed from the ice surface no later than March 15th.
Ice-in / Ice-out Dates
When did Lake George ice over?
The Lake George Association has all the details by year.
Lake Friendly Living – Help Save Lake George Water
Can I fertilize my lawn?
The Dishwasher Detergent and Nutrient Runoff Law prohibit the use of phosphorus lawn fertilizer unless establishing a new lawn or a soil test shows that the lawn does not have enough phosphorus, prohibit the application of lawn fertilizer on impervious surfaces and require pick up of fertilizer applied or spilled onto impervious surfaces, prohibit the application of lawn fertilizer within 20 feet of any surface water except: where there is a vegetative buffer of at least 10 feet; or where the fertilizer is applied by a device with a spreader guard, deflector shield or drop spreader at least three feet from surface water, prohibit the application of lawn fertilizer containing nitrogen, phosphorus, or potassium between December 1st and April 1st, and requires retailers to display phosphorus containing fertilizers separately from non-phosphorus fertilizers and to post an educational sign where the phosphorus fertilizers are displayed. Learn more on the DEC website here.
Can I cut trees on my property or shoreline?
Contact The Adirondack Park Agency at 518-891-4050. Generally, there are no requirements for the harvesting of trees on nonshoreline parcels unless you plan to clear-cut more than 25 upland acres or 3 wetland acres, or the property is located in a Designated River Area. However, cutting of trees in preparation for a project requiring a permit may not begin until the permit is obtained; tree removal is part of the project review process. In addition, there are permit requirements for the construction of woods roads or skid trails through wetlands. Along shorelines, cutting is limited to the following: Within 6 feet of shore, not more than 30 percent of the shoreline may be cleared of vegetation (bushes and trees) on any one lot. Within 35 feet of shore, not more than 30 percent of trees in excess of 6 inches in diameter at 4.5 feet above the ground may be cut over a 10-year period.
Lodging & Tourism Info
Looking for lodging and tourist information for the Lake George Region?
Questions regarding zoning or planning regulations?
Call the town/village planning/zoning offices where you propose the project. Always call before you build.
Town of Bolton 518-644-2893 [email protected]
Town of Dresden 518-499-7982
Town of Ft Ann 518-639-8929
Town of Hague 518-543-6161 [email protected]
Town of Lake George 518-668-5131 [email protected]
Village of Lake George 518-668-5771
Town of Putnam 518- 547-9540
Town of Queensbury 518-761-8220 – planning 518-761-8238 – zoning
Town of Ticonderoga 518-585-9851
Who do I contact regarding stormwater permits?
If your project is in the towns of Ticonderoga, Dresden or Ft. Ann, call: Lake George Park Commission 518-668-9347 or visit their web site. If you reside elsewhere, contact your town. See the list above.
Plants – Aquatic & Terrestrial
Can I pull weeds around my dock and shoreline?
The Adirondack Park Agency has guidelines for property owners. Read the APA’s brochure with advice on hand harvesting and nuisance aquatic plants here.
Need help identifying an aquatic plant?
Call Lake George Association at 518-668-3558, visit the LGA Eurasian watermilfoil page, or call RPI/DFWI at 518-668-3541.
I need help with native plants. Where can I purchase them?
Click here for native plant information on the LGA website, or call the LGA Office at 518-668-3558.
I want to plant a buffer along my stream and/or shoreline. What plants should I use?
Native plants should be used for your buffer. Click here for more information about shoreline buffers or call the LGA 518-668-3558.
Water Quality Concerns and Testing
Who do I contact if I have concerns about water quality?
For advice on how to fix an erosion problem, or on alternative septic solutions, call us! Lake George Association 518-668-3558.
To find out if water in your area of concern has been tested recently, call: Darrin Fresh Water Institute at 518-644-3541.
To report a septic problem or violation: NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation 518-623-1240.
To find out how you can tell if your water is safe to drink: NYS Dept. of Health 518-793-3893.
To report an erosion problem or violation on the Lake: Lake George Park Commission 518-668-9347.
Where can I get my water tested?
Darrin Fresh Water Institute 518-644-3541
Town of Queensbury Water Department 518-793-8866
The Lake George Association is the guardian of Lake George’s water quality and watershed.
Since 1885, the Lake George Association has protected the Lake thanks to dues from our members, donations from our friends and the dedication of time and effort.
An organization of action, the LGA performs water quality monitoring programs, performs critical, in-the-ground projects that make a positive difference in lake George water quality now and in the future.
The LGA has a comprehensive, award-winning Lake education program that teaches people that their everyday actions help keep the Lake clean.
We have earned the trust of generations of Lake George residents with our investment and our work. Our members look to us for collaborative, effective solutions to keep the Lake clean and enable residents, businesses and municipalities to live Lake-friendly.
We state it in our mission this way:
Protect The Water. Educate For The Future.
You Can Make A Difference In Lake George Water Quality Right Outside Your Door! Contribute Now
All the money raised by the Lake George Association goes to projects and programs that benefit the Lake and the watershed, protecting Lake George water quality now and in the future.