Keuka Lake NAM-15

Riparian Nation(s) USA
Surface Area 47 km2 Mean Depth 30.5 m Volume 1.43 km3
Shoreline Catchment Area 484 km2 Residence Time 6.3 yr
Frozen Period Mixing Type Monomictic Morphogenesis/Dam
Related Info/Site


Keuka Lake is one of a group of long and narrow lakes located in western New York State known as the Finger Lakes. The basins of these north-south oriented lakes were formed by the advance of ice masses during the Ice Ages, and further sculpted by glacial meltwater during the interglacial and postglacial periods. The lake is unique among the Finger Lakes in that it is shaped somewhat like a tuning-fork instead of a cylinder. However, it maintains the typical long, narrow and deep proportions with a length of 31.6 km, mean width of 1.15 km, mean depth of 30.5 m, and a very steep mean slope of 7.8%.

Although the Finger Lakes region is now well-known for its many vineyards and orchards, it had been densely forested up until the early 1800's when large areas were cleared for agriculture by white settlers. The forests are now in the process of expanding as marginal farmland is abandoned and gradually invaded by trees. Of Keuka Lake's 405 km2 drainage basin, approximately half is still forested, one-third is actively farmed, and 3% is residential.

The climate of Keuka Lake is characterized by cold, snowy winters and warm, dry summers; and the lake regularly freezes over in the winter. During summer, recreation is very active on Keuka Lake. Boating, sport-fishing, swimming and camping are very popular. A number of wineries and other tourist attractions also surround this 47 km2 lake. The lake has ten tributaries, and one outflowing channel which flows into Seneca Lake (1).

Photo of Keuka Lake
Photo: C. Rossano