How to get there: Located north of Highway 14 between Nicollet and Courtland.
What you will find: A 10,000 acre lake and 3,000 acres of natural area with wildlife.
Services at this site: Parking, fishing, cross- country skiing, hiking, boat access, hunting, canoeing, wheelchair accessible walkways lead down to the marsh.
With little habitat degradation, much of the native plant and animal communities of Swan Lake still exist. Though hard to find in other parts of southwest Minnesota, several aquatic plants and shoreline sedges and grasses can be found in this Wildlife Management Area (WMA). Swan Lake WMA is made up of several units and state game refuges. Together, they work to provide havens for wildlife.
The English name of Swan Lake came from the Dakota name, Maǧa Ota Bde. The lake was known for the ducks, geese, and swans which appeared there annually. They were attracted in part by the rice which grew there. Other animals seen at the lake were turtles, many varieties of fish, and muskrats.
The Sisituŋwaŋ leader Sleepy Eyes, also known for residing at present-day New Ulm and Traverse des Sioux, preferred to spend his summers with others of his band here.
A large variety of wildlife can be found in each of Minnesota’s four seasons. Bald eagles have nested on the lake for many years along with a number of other bird, fish, mammal, and reptile species.
The best way to enjoy the lake is by canoe. Since the vegetation grows to an impressive height, it is important to keep track of landmarks while you paddle through the marsh.