Monroe Lake

Louisville District
Published Jan. 10, 2024
Aerial view of the tailwater and the dam at Monroe Lake in Bloomington, Indiana.

Aerial view of the tailwater and the dam at Monroe Lake in Bloomington, Indiana.

Aerial view of the tailwater and the dam at Monroe Lake in Bloomington, Indiana.

1620 East Monroe Dam Court
Bloomington, IN 47401-8798
Telephone: (812) 824-9136 or 9137
FAX: (812) 824-6264
Office hours: M-F, 7 a.m. - 4 p.m. (may vary, call ahead)

Lake Levels   

Lake Temperatures

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Welcome to the Monroe Lake web site. The lake lies predominantly in Monroe County and extends into Brown, Jackson, and Lawrence counties in south central Indiana. The dam is on Salt Creek 25.9 miles upstream of its juncture with the East Fork of White River, approximately 20 miles south and east of Bloomington.

Monroe Lake exists as a cooperative management effort between the Corps of Engineers and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. The lake has 10,750 acres of water in the summer for fishing, boating, swimming and other water related activities. The Monroe Lake region offers many opportunities to enjoy wildlife or recreate in the great outdoors. The menu on the right leads to specific recreation and other lake information.


Monroe Lake was authorized under the Flood Control Act of 1938. The Louisville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers designed, built, and operates the project to reduce flood damages downstream from the dam. The dam is about 10 miles southeast of Bloomington, Indiana, on Salt Creek, a tributary of the East Fork White River.

When heavy rains occur, surface water runoff is stored in the lake until the swollen streams and rivers below the dam have receded and can handle the release of the stored water without damage to lives or property.


The Monroe Lake area was, until the early 1700s, undisputed Miami Indian land, even though occupied by both the Miami and Delaware tribes. The lake area was acquired legally from the Indians as part of Harrison’s Purchase, by the Treaty of Fort Wayne, on September 30, 1809.

The first recorded white settlers arrived in 1815, but where undoubtedly preceded by hunters and refugees from the law. A typical landholder farmed a few acres claimed from the woods and harvested the plentiful wild game of the area. Many of the original settlers were thrifty and industrious although squatters and land speculators abounded, seeking to make a fortune in the new territory.

The rolling hills of southern Indiana produced tremendous amounts of lumber from native stands of popular allowed development of a farming economy which is still a local mainstay.

The Hoosier Frontier supplied the southern market with shipments of grain, pork, and lumber. During periods of high water, freight from the small pioneers farms bound for New Orleans was shipped via flatboat down Salt Creek, Clear Creek, and Bean Blossom Creek.

The forks of Salt Creek, which form Monroe Lake, get their names from the many salt springs or “licks” along their course. As early as 1822, a well was dug near Salt Creek with the interest of converting the salt water into salt. Records show that it annually produced about 800 bushels of this valuable pioneer commodity.

In 1850 the first limestone quarry of the region was opened near Stinesville, leading to the development of what is still an important local industry.

Local economics boomed in 1854 with the completion of the area’s first railroad, the New Albany and Salem Line. Small communities such as Stinesville, Firfax, and Harrodsburgh thrived with this faster and cheaper system for transporting products from various lumber years, grist mills, tanneries, carding mills and iron works.

Shoreline Use, Permits and Licenses

The Monroe Lake project allows shoreline uses through permits and licenses in accordance with their lake’s Shoreline Management Plan:

Monroe Lake (812) 824-9136

A Monroe Lake Shoreline Management Plan has been developed, which provides guidance and policy on management of the shoreline. The goal of the Shoreline Management Plan is to provide a balance of permitted private uses, while preserving and protecting Monroe Lake’s natural resources. This plan designates what activities and facilities may be permitted on U.S. Government property at Monroe Lake, as well as describing application procedures for those landowners who qualify for an authorized activity.

According to the Monroe Lake Shoreline Management Plan, landowners in subdivisions adjacent to Monroe Lake may be eligible to apply for a license or permit to conduct certain activities on government property, including placement of a boat dock (permits issued by IDNR- limited to 11 dock sites that are already in place), construction of stairs or steps, construction of a pathway (improved or unimproved, and vegetation alteration (mowing). Restrictions apply as to where on the lake these activities may take place.

Shoreline at Monroe Lake is zoned as prohibited access, public recreation area, protected shoreline area or a limited development area. View our Shoreline Management Map for information on zoning in a particular area.

In areas where the shoreline is classified as protected, no permits for docks shall be authorized, nor any licenses for fixed recreational facilities, including stairs, steps, roadways, electric service, or water withdrawal shall be authorized either. Landowners in subdivisions adjacent to government property zoned as protected may apply for a permit for a 5-foot unimproved path to access the lakeshore if they are adjacent landowners or if they can supply a notarized letter of consent to cross property adjacent to government property.

In areas which are zoned for limited development, licenses and permits may be authorized to allow for improved services only to approved community docks. These services may include utility services; improved pathways for access to the shoreline; cart paths for those with mobility impairments; erosion control; footpaths and footbridges and vegetation alteration (mowing). Licenses or easements may be allowed as well for driveways to homes in certain locations on a case by case basis. Restrictions apply as to how and where these improvements may be installed, and once placed on Government land they are considered public facilities. License and permit fees are assessed on these facilities. Contact the project office or the state property office at Paynetown for a list of current fees.

For additional information, contact the Louisville District's Public Affairs office for a copy of the Monroe Lake Shoreline Management Plan.

Some permits are required for work even if it is on private property. The Corps evaluates permit applications for essentially all construction activities that occur in, or have the potential to impact, navigable and non-navigable waterways or wetlands. 


Louisville District Public Affairs
Monroe Lake