Canandaigua Lakecanandaigua-lake-scenic-foliage

"The Chosen Spot"

Physical Characteristics

  • Length: 16 miles
  • ​Width: 1 mile
  • Max Depth: 276 ft
  • Average Depth: 127 ft
  • Volume: 429 billion gallons of water
  • Home to Squaw Island, one of only two islands in the Finger Lakes


  • Before the area was settled, the people of the Seneca tribe would burn tobacco around the shores of the lake to give thanks for a plentiful harvest.  This tradition continues today and is known as the Ring of Fire.  In the summer, shoreline residents light a fire or flare that creates a ring around the entire lake.
  • ​In 1794, the Grand Council of the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy and Colonel Timothy Pickering, a direct agent of President George Washington, gathered in Canandaigua to sign the Canandaigua Treaty. This treaty established peace and friendship between the newly formed United States and the Haudenosaunee people.
  • The Canandaigua Lady, a replica paddleboat from the 1800's, continues the tradition of the steam and paddleboat passenger service that flourished in the 19th century.
  • Kershaw Park, located at the north end of the lake, was completed in 1906 and was modeled after a "swimming school."  The original platform over the lake stood until 1983.
  • Roseland Park was opened in 1925 on the north shores of Canandaigua Lake, and remained in operation until 1985. This park was home to three rollercoasters, and gave many people in the Finger Lakes their first rollercoaster experience.

Water Facts

  • Canandaigua Lake provides drinking water for 48,000 residents.
  • Squaw Island is one of two islands located in the Finger Lakes. It is the smallest Fish and Wildlife Management Area in New York State, and is one of the few places in the world where limestone oncolites form.  Oncolites, often called "water biscuits," are a light, feathery rocks that cracks when dried out. The island used to be two square acres, but has been drastically shrinking due to weather and erosion. During the Sullivan Campaign in 1779, Squaw Island was used as a place of refuge for Native American Women and children.  Today, you can rent kayaks, canoes, and waterbikes to paddle out to the island.
  • The north shore of Canandaigua Lake is mostly filled with summer cottages and homes, some costing millions of dollars. The town of Naples lies at the southern end of the lake, and is home to the High-Tor Wildlife Management Area.

Did You Know?

Humphrey Boggart, the film star most well-known for his roles in Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon, and The African Queen, spent his summers vacationing on Canandaigua Lake.