YLA logo 2.png

The Yahara Lakes Association (YLA) is a non-profit organization which works to improve and preserve the lakes and rivers in the Yahara chain of lakes in south central Wisconsin.

YLA is dedicated to representing waterfront property owners and advocating for the vitality of the Yahara chain of lakes so all citizens may enjoy them.

What does Yahara Lakes Association do?

  • Keep our members informed and involved in lake issues and events.

  • Take direct action and advocacy on lake, shoreline, and property issues.

  • Provide legislative representation and interaction with local and state officials.

  • Support and coordinate outreach and research on lake issues with farmers, government officials and communities.

Lake Mendota. Lake Monona.
Yahara River. Lake Waubesa. Lake Kegonsa.


Latest News -

  1. The next aquatic debris pick up is scheduled for the week of August 26th on Lake Kegonsa. Please have all aquatic debris at the end of the pier by 7 a.m. on Monday, August 26th. The Dane County barge crew will pick up any debris that comes out of the water. Yard or lawn waste (grass clippings/yard brush) will not be collected. The barge crew makes one complete trip around Lake Kegonsa and the near north Yahara River inlet. Depending on the weather, crew availability and the amount of debris, it may take them more than one day.

  2. A Slow-no-wake order was issued for Squaw Bay effective as of sunrise Saturday, July 20th. Since then the Dane County sheriffs  have stopped several boaters who say they  were not aware of it. So they have asked us to remind you of it again below. Please pass the word on to your friends  For additional information click here!

Visit Our News & Events

For news, updates, events, and details regarding the Yahara Lake Association, visit our blog page.

Members receive regular updates to the content with our weekly newsletters - make sure to activate your membership today!

Yahara Lakes Blog


Yahara Lakes

The Yahara Lakes Association is led by a Board of Directors elected by our members. Our directors are all lake property owners who share the common goal of improving our lake experience and they actively serve on a variety of lake-oriented committees and boards on your behalf.

Through your membership, you’ll gain access to lake information alerts and members-only events.

Why join YLA?

  • YLA is the only organization focused on Yahara waterfront property owners’ interests and issues.

  • YLA is your community watchdog, working in unity with local and state organizations to improve your lake living experience.

  • Your membership will continue to strengthen our collective YLA voice.


Sign up for a membership today and become a part of our lakefront community. You’ll receive access to newsletters with information you should know as a lakefront property owner as well as volunteer opportunities to help keep our lakes clean in order for everyone to enjoy!


Thank You To Our Sponsors


The Yahara Lakes

The Yahara River is 62 miles long and connects lakes Kegonsa, Mendota, Monona, Waubesa, and Wingra in a chain that winds through south-central Wisconsin.

Lake Mendota

Lake Mendota

The first and the largest lake in the chain of Yahara lakes, Lake Mendota. Mendota is known for it’s ongoing studies and is considered the most studied lake in the United States. Lake Mendota has five maintained beaches by the City of Madison, three of which staff lifeguards.


Lake Monona

Lake Monona

Lake Monona surrounds the south side of Madison’s isthmus and is lined with homes and condominiums. The word “Monona” comes from the Chippewa word, believed to mean beautiful.


Lake Wingra

Lake Wingra

The smallest of the Yahara lakes, Lake Wingra is connected to Lake Monona via the Wingra Creek and is technically a part of the Yahara watershed. This shallow lake encounters many challenges due to excess nutrients and road salt from urban run off.


Lake Waubesa

Lake Waubesa

The third lake in the Yahara chain is Lake Waubesa with a surface area of slightly over 2,000 acres, flowing south from Lake Monona through Upper Mud Lake. The north end is surrounded by the Capital Spring State Recreation Area and features the newly built Yahara River Trail and bike-pedestrian bridge.


Lake Kegonsa

Lake Kegonsa

The final lake in the chain of Yahara lakes is Lake Kegonsa, which is one of the shallower lakes. Lake Kegonsa State Park boarders the northeastern shore, filled with prairie, forest and marsh habitats.


Lake levels and flooding are important to stay ahead of. All lakes, rivers, and creeks have watersheds and the Yahara watershed is 281 square miles of wetlands, urban development, and farmland. Rain falling into those 281-square miles flows downstream and eventually ends up in the Yahara lakes.

There was an interesting article published by the University of Wisconsin Madison Center for Limnology, titled How a 30-Year Rain Event Became a 100-Year Flood.

“People like living on lakes. And, once they’re there, they also like having access to the lakes, which means a pier and a boat and maybe a little beach or swimming area and, most important, consistent water levels. 

But consistently high water levels in Lake Mendota come with a cost. When we get a big rain, the lake doesn’t have the capacity to take that extra load in. It’s already so high that the only thing city officials can do is open the lock and dam and let the excess run downstream.”

For up-to-date lake level information, visit the Dane County L:and & Water Resources Department website.


Community Events

The following are events supported by the Yahara Lakes Assocation.


Stake in the Lake

Take a Stake in the Lakes

Year Round

The Dane County Land & Water Resources Department offers a number of volunteer opportunities that help protect and improve our natural, cultural, and historic resources. The Dane County Land & Water Resources Department also advertises and supports volunteer opportunities offered by other groups that are working to do the same.



Lake Contacts

Sheriff’s Office, DNR Violations and Other Important Contacts can be found here.



Lake Links

Interested in learning more about our wonderful lakes?
Visit this discovery page to explore our directory of various lake-related links.