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Lake Mendota

The Largest lake - maybe the best of the 5

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Boating on Lake Mendota

Lake Mendota, the largest of the five lakes, is a popular destination for boaters, anglers, and swimmers. With an average depth of 42 feet and a surface area of 9,842 acres, it offers plenty of room for all types of water activities. Boat Rental Lake Mendota is the most popular search on google of all the four the Lakes. Anglers can catch a variety of fish species, including walleye, northern pike, and smallmouth bass, while boaters can enjoy the stunning scenery and take in the iconic Memorial Union Terrace. The lake is also home to the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Limnology Institute, which conducts research on the ecology and management of freshwater systems.

While Lake Mendota is a popular spot for boating, it is important to note that the lake is also a source of drinking water for the city of Madison. As such, it is important to practice safe boating practices and avoid polluting the lake. The city of Madison offers several resources and guidelines for boaters, including tips for proper disposal of waste and recommendations for eco-friendly boating practices. 

boat rental lake mendota, a couple of people that are sitting in the water

boat rental lake mendota

In addition to boating, Lake Mendota is also a popular sport for fishing, with an abundance of fish species, including walleye, northern pike, and musky. The lake is regularly stocked with fish by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, ensuring that there is always a healthy population of fish to catch. Some days of the week (not sure which days) you will see Warner Park boat Launch will be absolutely full with trucks and trailers. There are fishing tournaments that happen on Lake Mendota at least 3 times a month during the summer, so be vigilant. 

Exploring Lake Mendota – Boat Rentals

For those looking to explore Lake Mendota, there are several options for Lake Mendota boat rentals and tours available, we will highlight some of them in this article. At Jet ski Madison we offer boat rentals in the form of Jet skis and Luxury Pontoon boats.  Wonderful ways for family to enjoy the lake or sand bars. If you prefer a slower more nature friendly way to water sports on Lake Mendota, Marshall boats offer large variety of non-motorized boats rentals for Madison largest lake. Enjoy paddle boarding, kayaking or canoeing on Lake Mendota in the summer. They also have fishing boats.  They do have restrictions, so be sure to compare your options. The boats come with all of the safety equipment you will need for your rental. As the oldest rental company in Madison you will be in good hands if you choose them for your Lake Mendota boat rental. 

There are several public boat launches on Lake Mendota, Warner Park boat launch and the Marshall Park boat launches are the most popular and widely used with Tenney Park boat launch coming in at a close second. When enjoying boat rentals on Lake Mendota and accessing these landings remember they are not free but are open to the public, making it easy for boaters to launch their own boats and explore the lake on their own terms.

Lake Mendota Boat Tours

For those who prefer a more guided experience, there are several boat tours available on Lake Mendota. The  Betty Lou Cruises offer sightseeing tours and themed cruises, such as their popular “Pizza Cruise.” It’s a medium sized yacht with comfortable seating, music and food. It’s a must try for a new experience of boating on Lake Mendota compared to your traditional boating.

Is Lake Mendota clean?

One question that many people have about Lake Mendota is whether it is clean. The answer is yes – Lake Mendota is regularly monitored and tested for water quality by the city of Madison and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The lake is considered safe for swimming and boating, and the city takes measures to ensure that the lake remains clean and healthy for both humans and wildlife. 

*During the summer months for the past 5 years there are known to be outbreaks of Blue/green algae. When this happens the water can appear to be a vibrant blue color. Swimming in this type of water is not recommended. blue green algae is easy to spot and typically happens during the warmest months. Madison parks will notify the public and close beaches if this does happen.

lake mendota boat rental

boat rental lake mendota

Lake Mendota boat rental

Lake Mendota offers a selection of boating styles ranging from Kayaks & Canoes all the way up to 55 Mph Jet ski rentals offered here at Jet ski Madison. You really do have the option of enjoying the city of Madison and the wonderful views offered by Madison’s Largest Lake. Starting with the northern side of the Lake you can find us here at Jet Ski Madison launching our luxury pontoon boats into the water for customers specifically requesting lake Mendota. If you rent a pontoon, you now have access to the bays, sand bars and ability to cruise up to the boat house or Memorial Union for a unique waterfront experience. Jet ski rental activity is high on Lake Mendota,  right along with Sail boats. Also, on Madison’s North side at Warner Park you can find Madison youth sailing Club. They offer sail boat adventure camp for the youth. Boat rentals on Lake Mendota do not include these, they are instruction only taught in groups of 5-16 youth.

thinking of boating on Lake Mendota but not interested in the high speed fast boating style? Well, your in luck! On, the western side of the lake you can find Madison largest and most popular Kayak, Canoe, Paddleboard and paddle boat rentals. Marshall boats has been providing non-motorized boat rentals on Lake Mendota for of a decade. They have a very large selection of boats to choose from that are able to provide you will a send of peace and calm. Located about 1.3 miles south of the Mendota Park boat Launch and 1 Mile north of  Spring Harbor beach park it’s a beautiful location for access to the water.

5 girls waving on a pontoon boat rental on lake mendota

boat rental lake mendota 2


Jet Ski Rental on Lake Mendota

If you are boating on Lake Mendota you want to keep an eye out for Madison Jet ski rental customers. From 10am – 7 pm you can find jet ski rental customers zipping around the shores of the lake at speeds up to 55 mph. They are probably the more exhilarating boat rental Lake Mendota offers. You can learn more about jet ski rentals on Lake Mendota here.

Madison jet ski rental on Lake Mendota

Madison jet ski rental on Lake Mendota


What is blue-green algae? 

Blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, are a type of bacteria that can carry out photosynthesis. They are called “blue-green” because they often appear as a blue-green color in bodies of water where they grow.

Blue-green algae are found in both fresh and salt water, as well as on damp soil. They can sometimes form large blooms that create a thick, scummy layer on the surface of water bodies.

While some types of blue-green algae are harmless, others can produce toxins that can be harmful to humans and animals if ingested or come into contact with skin. It is important to avoid contact with or ingestion of water containing high levels of blue-green algae, especially during a bloom.

Boat launches on Lake Mendota

The largest of the five lakes, Lake Mendota is a popular destination for boaters, anglers, and swimmers. It’s also home to the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Memorial Union, which offers lakeside dining, live music, and other entertainment options. Here is a list of the boat landings and boat launches on Lake Mendota.

Boat Launch Name Location Fee More Info Google Directions
Governor Nelson State Park 5140 County Highway M, Waunakee, WI 53597 Yes (State Park Sticker Required) More Info Get Directions
Marshall Park 2101 Allen Blvd, Middleton, WI 53562 Yes (County Park Sticker Required) More Info Get Directions
Mendota County Park 5133 Co Hwy M, Middleton, WI 53562 Yes (County Park Sticker Required) More Info Get Directions
Spring Harbor 1918 Norman Way, Madison, WI 53705 Yes (County Park Sticker Required) More Info Get Directions
Tenney Park 1254 Sherman Ave, Madison, WI 53703 Yes (County Park Sticker Required) More Info Get Directions
University Bay 1847 University Bay Dr, Madison, WI 53705 No More Info Get Directions
Warner Park 1201 Woodward Dr Madison, WI 53713 Yes (County Park Sticker Required) More Info Get Directions
Memorial Union No launching permitted More Info Get Directions
Middleton boat Ramp More Info Yes (County Park Sticker Required) More Info Get Directions

Note: Please keep in mind that fees and other details are subject to change, and it’s always a good idea to check with the relevant authorities before planning a trip to any boat launch. Boat rentals on Lake Mendota and Lake Monona offered by us come with a lake access pass included in your rental.

Popular boating spots

Lake Mendota with it’s large size has a hand full of popular spots to beach, drop a anchor and enjoy the day with family and friends. Some of there are sand bars, others are restaurants, some area beaches. All of them offer unique ways to enjoy a Pontoon Rental from us here at Jet ski Madison.

lake mendota boat rental, a group of people holding wine glasses


3-Foot Bay – This popular boating spot on Lake Mendota is self proclaimed and the #1 boating, anchoring sand bar on Lake Mendota. It’s a large bay area just west of Warner Park Beach where boaters cruise up and park for the day. Many customers who enjoy our Lake Mendota boat rentals often head there to tie up to their other boating friends. Put 3 foot bay on your list of MUST TRY things to do on Lake Mendota!

Tenney Park – Tenney Park is located on the east side of Lake Mendota and has a boat launch, as well as a beach, playground, and picnic areas. To the east of the swimming area is a large area that becomes shallow. Many local boaters choose to anchor and spend the day here because it is a great area for kids to swim and the water is relatively calm. It is also the home of the famous Tenney Park Locks which control the flow of water from Lake Mendota to Lake Monona. The Locks also allow boaters to travel from the upper lake Mendota down the yahara river and out onto Lake Monona where your boating experience is enhanced with even more things to enjoy on a boat.

Picnic Point – Picnic Point is a popular spot for boater in Madison, Wisconsin. When customers rent a boat from us and ask where are spots to park and swim this is #2 only to 3 foot bay. Located on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, the point juts out into Lake Mendota and offers stunning views of the lake and the city skyline. While many visitors to Picnic Point enjoy walking or biking the trails, there is also a boat launch available for those who prefer to explore the lake by water. Keep in mind you cannot launch here but you have access to the beach area.

Whether you prefer to spend your time on the water or on land, Picnic Point is a beautiful and peaceful spot to enjoy the natural beauty of Madison.

Restaurants On Lake Mendota

Looking for places to eat on Lake Mendota? There are several restaurants located on the shores of Lake Mendota in Madison, Wisconsin accessible by boat.

  1. The Boathouse at Edge Water – One popular spot is The Boathouse at The Edgewater Hotel, which offers a stunning view of the lake and a menu featuring seafood, steak, and local favorites. The restaurant also has an outdoor patio and bar area, making it a great spot for a casual meal or drinks with friends.
  2. The Nau-Ti-Gal Restaurant – Another popular option is The Nau-Ti-Gal Restaurant and Bar, which is located on the north shore of Lake Mendota. The restaurant has a laid-back atmosphere and features a menu of classic American fare, including burgers, sandwiches, and seafood. The Nau-Ti-Gal also has an outdoor patio area and hosts live music events throughout the summer months.
  3. Memorial Union Terrace – The Memorial Union Terrace is a popular spot for boaters to dock their boats and enjoy food, drinks, and live music on the outdoor patio overlooking the Lake. They have 5 different places to grab food inside. 2 Food vendors outside along with a delicious ice-cream serving option. It’s a absolute must do.

In addition to these options, there are several other restaurants located near Lake Mendota, such as the Mariner’s Inn and the Lake House Cafe. Whether you’re looking for a casual meal or a fine dining experience, there are plenty of options to choose from near this beautiful lake.


Where can I get gas on Lake Mendota?

When it comes to where to get gas while boating on Lake Mendota you are limited to the North eastern side of the lake. As for Jet Ski Madison boat rental customers your boats will be fully fueled with enough fuel to last your entire reservation. There are only two places that provide fuel on Lake Mendota.  The two marinas are you only option for dock gas. Each of these marinas have fully staffed gas pump to pump your fuel for you. The price of boat fuel will vary but you can expect to pay more than a gas pump on land price.

1. Mazanet Marina

2. Skipper buds Marina

Lake Mendota  water sport Activities

Kayaking and Canoeing – Rent a kayak or canoe and explore the many waterways and inlets of the lakes at your own pace.

Stand-Up Paddle boarding – Try your hand at the latest craze in water sports and enjoy a peaceful and relaxing paddle across the calm waters of the lakes.

Water Skiing and Wakeboarding – For those seeking a more thrilling adventure, water skiing and wakeboarding are great options. The flat waters of the lakes are perfect for beginners and experts alike.

Fishing – The five lakes are home to a wide variety of fish, including panfish, walleye, and northern pike, making them a great destination for fishing enthusiasts.

Tubing – Rent an inner tube or towable and experience the excitement of being pulled behind a boat while bouncing across the waves.

Swimming – The clear and inviting waters of the lakes are perfect for a refreshing swim on a hot summer day.

Lake Mendota Beaches


Whether you’re looking to relax and soak up the scenery or get active on the water, the five lakes in Madison, WI offer plenty of options for outdoor enthusiasts. With their crystal-clear waters, abundant wildlife, and beautiful surroundings, they’re a true treasure of the region that should not be missed.



Jet ski Madison is the only company you can rent a boat and jet ski together as use them as your own. Enjoy the boat as if it’s your own Our Package deals allow you to have the peace of mind when it comes to coordinating a day on the lake.

So what are you waiting for? Come and join us for a day on the water that you’ll never forget. Rent a pontoon boat today and take the family or rent a jet ski and let your make it an adventure. Get ready to discover our beautiful city with a Madison boat rental WI.

Still have questions about Lake Mendota boat rentals and boating? Send us a message!

Lake Mendota Highlights

  • 9,842 acres
  • Largest Lake of Madison
  • 4 Restaurants to dine at
  • Water Access to boat fuel
  • Multiple boat rental available
  • Swimming Safe
  • Multiple Beaches


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Super fun family day

Larry was so great and even allowed us to add another Jet ski at the last minute. He filled the gas tanks and delivered them right to our lake, put them in and gave us wonderful instruction. We WILL definitely use Jet Ski Madison again!!

– Kelli C., Facebook
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Definitely recommend

Owner was down to earth and friendly. Rented the supercharged jet ski for 2 hours. It seemed new and in good condition. Full tank of gas. Had a great time and will definitely return as a customer when I'm in the area. Would definitely recommend to anyone. It was the highlight of my 4th of July.

– Michael D., Facebook
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Had a blast

My best friend and I had a blast. Everything was very professional but also extremely fun. I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking to sightsee the best way possible.

– Alex K., Facebook
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This is an excellent venue for renting watercraft in Madison. The staff at Jet Ski Madison were friendly, courteous, and professional; they answered all of our questions regarding our rentals and accommodated our busy schedule. We will be back again!

– Patrick R., Facebook
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These guys are just awesome. We arrived on time and they had us in the water as soon as they could. Couldn't be happier and the price was more than reasonable for flying around a lake at 40+ mph.

– Tanvirkamal B., Facebook
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High quality

We had a great time with Jet Ski Madison! Larry provided one on one service and thoroughly explained everything to us before we started our adventure. He helped us get our personal items stored properly in the Jet Ski and made sure all of our questions were answered. This was a high quality experience from beginning to end!

– Monica D., Facebook