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Minnesota leads nation in most boats per capita

Wisconsin is third and North Dakota fourth.

Minnesota boat registrations
Two boats carry anglers on Fish Lake near Duluth. New numbers show Minnesota by far leads the nation in the number of registered boats per person in the state. (John Myers / jmyers@duluthnews.com)

If you think you've noticed many boats on Northland lakes and rivers recently, you're right.

California, Florida and Michigan may have more boats total, thanks to larger overall populations, but Minnesota continues to lead the nation for the number of boats registered per person. And it’s not even close.

According to boatsafe.com, using data from the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Census Bureau, the top 10 recreational boating states, based on registered watercraft per 100,000 people, are:

  1. Minnesota, 14,505

  2. South Carolina, 11,161

  3. Wisconsin, 10,444

  4. North Dakota, 8,809

  5. Maine, 8,397

  6. Michigan, 8,066

  7. New Hampshire, 7,077

  8. Alaska, 6,887

  9. Montana, 6,822

  10. Louisiana, 6,790

Based on total number of boats registered, the top recreational boating states are:


  1. California, 1.05 million

  2. Michigan, 1 million

  3. Florida, 922,597

  4. Minnesota, 834,974

  5. Wisconsin, 650,280

  6. Texas ,624,390

  7. New York, 529,732

  8. Ohio, 413,276

  9. Illinois, 398,431

  10. South Carolina, 383,971

John Myers reports on the outdoors, natural resources and the environment for the Duluth News Tribune. You can reach him at jmyers@duluthnews.com.
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