Oklahoma Land of Lakes

Of course the best way to see Oklahoma as a water wonderland is to experience it yourself.  Here are a sampling of a few of the state's lakes, each with a unique personality.


Lake Eufaula

Claim to Fame:  Oklahoma’s Largest Lake

Unusual Characteristic:  To the north, the lake is typical of Oklahoma rivers, with the reddish soil giving the water a pink hue.  Travel south and the lake becomes a clear blue.


Disreputable characters such as Belle Starr, the Youngers and Jessie and Frank James who hid out in the Eufaula area of southeastern Oklahoma in the 1800s would hardly recognize their old stomping grounds now.  For starters, most of it’s underwater.   President Lyndon B. Johnson was on hand to dedicate Eufaula Dam in 1964 which sits about 30 miles beyond the point where the Arkansas and Canadian Rivers converge.  The result is Oklahoma’s largest lake with more than 600 miles of shoreline.  Present day visitors to Lake Eufaula can rough it in lakeshore campsites, hookup at an RV pad or revel in luxury at a bed and breakfast or resort.   Two lakeside parks are nearby– Arrowhead and Fountainhead – offering golf, horseback riding, cabins and nature activities.  Three picturesque hiking and nature trails wind around the lake, leading you through dense flowering dogwoods to scenic overlooks.    The lake was created with fishing in mind.  Trees and brush to provide natural feeding and spawning areas were left in place, providing perfect hiding places for striped bass, largemouth bass, white bass, crappie, catfish, walleye and a variety of sunfish.


After a day on the water, take some time to discover the lakeshore town of Eufaula.  This quaint city has the air of seaside village with 20 blocks of its downtown listed on the National Register of Historic Places and its own mass transit system.


Great Salt Plains Lake, northwest Oklahoma near Jet.

Claim to Fame:  The Great Salt Plains Lake area is the only documented place in the world where hourglass Selenite Crystals are found.

Unusual Characteristics: Living up to its name, the lake water is 1/3 to ½ as salty as an ocean.


This salty landscape is all that remains from a prehistoric sea that once covered parts of northwest Oklahoma.  Great Salt Plains Lake covers 9,300 acres with 41 miles of shoreline and sits in a basin boarded by salt plains on the west with red shale bluffs and sandy beaches near the dam.  The salt plains cover 11,000 acres of salt crusted flats which provide the perfect environment  for growing hourglass selenite crystals, a rare and fragile form of selenite.  Digging for crystals is allowed from April to mid-October.


Great Salt Plains Lake has the reputation as a premier spot for excellent channel cat fishing.  Other species regularly stocked include blue catfish, hybrid striped bass and hybrid saugeye.  Boating and swimming  are allowed.


With the exception of the salt plains, the area is verdant and beautiful.  The Great Salt Plains federal wildlife refuge boarders the lake’s northern end.  Its primarily marshy habitat makes it an excellent area to observe many wildlife species, but mostly water fowl.  Over 300 species of birds can be found in the area.  Gold and bald eagles are among the refugee’s winter residents.    Great Salt Plains State Park provides 169 campsites from tent pads to semi-modern RV sites and six cabins.


Tenkiller Lake

Claim to Fame:  Known as “Oklahoma’s Clear Water Wonderland”

Unusual Characteristics:  Several islands dot the lake, with names like “Goat Island” and


Nestled in the heart of the Cookson Hills of eastern Oklahoma, Tenkiller lives up to its reputation as the clearest lake in the state.  It is a favorite for fisherman, pleasure boaters and scuba divers. (The waters are clear from eight to 28 feet and two diving shops are lakeside.)  Ten marinas and 20 launching ramps provide services on the lake. Anglers can take their pick from a variety of bass species, crappie, catfish, bream and walleye.


Don’t be surprised to see the same pleasure boats on Tenkiller that you would find  cruising the Caribbean.  Luxury crafts are docked in the marinas’ alongside jet skis and pontoon boats.  Camping is big on Tenkiller with 14 campgrounds available.  Several family-friendly resorts provide lakeside lodging.


Foss Lake

Claim to Fame:  Largest lake in western Oklahoma.

Unusual Characteristics:  The large earthen dam built across the Washita River to form the reservoir.


Locals around Foss Lake say this lake is the best place to watch one of Oklahoma’s famous Technicolor sunsets.    The lake's namesake was a booming community from the early 1900s until the Great Depression.  Remnants of the town of Foss now lie underneath the 8,800-acres of water.   Foss Lake has a true western feel, providing a view of  buffalo and  longhorn cattle in the nearby Washita Wildlife Refuge.  Recreational activities on the lake and in the adjacent Foss State Park include hiking biking and horseback riding on a 17-mile multi-use trail, paddle boating, picnicking, swimming and camping on 137 sites.  The lake also boasts a marina with boat rentals and the Portside Café, a full-service restaurant.


Grand Lake

Claim to Fame:  Boasts the largest lakeside development in Oklahoma.

Unusual Characteristics:  Popular stopover for migratory pelicans every fall.


Grand Lake offers the best of all worlds.  You can escape on 59,000 acres of water, relax in a luxurious resort or visit one of the many bustling lakeside communities such as Grove.  Sixty-miles of the 1,300-mile shoreline wind through the foothills of the Ozarks, providing breathtaking views from the lake.   Five state parks surround the lake, offering camping, picnicking and hiking.  Largemouth bass, white bass, channel catfish, crappie and bluegill give anglers a special challenge.


Lake Texoma

Claim to Fame:  Oldest lake in Oklahoma

Unusual Characteristics:  Holds bragging rights for some of the best fishing in the nation.


Sailboats, houseboats and fishing boats share the 89,000 acres of  Lake Texoma, the playground of southern Oklahoma. Located on the Oklahoma/Texas border, the lake is shared by both states.  The amenities list for the area is as massive as the lake: two wildlife refuges, two state parks, 54 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers parks, 26 resorts and a variety of golf courses, including Oklahoma’s new premier course opening in September 1999, Chickasaw Point.   Texoma’s size, depth and miles of shoreline makes it a favorite for sailboats.  Favorite catches include black bass, crappie, white bass and striped bass. 


Broken Bow Lake

Claim to Fame :  Unmatchable scenic beauty. 

Unusual Characteristics:  The lake stretches 22 miles into Ouachita Mountain country.


Cypress-lined bayous, tree-filled islands and crystal water are the hallmarks of Broken Bow Lake in far southeastern Oklahoma.   In a part of the state known as “Oklahoma’s Little Smokies,” it’s not hard to loose yourself in the surreal setting.  Beavers Bend State Park on the shores of the lake offers homey cabins, an 18-hole golf course, Lakeview Lodge and a variety of activities.  Marina services and boat rentals are available.  With largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, white bass, crappie and catfish, Broken Bow's clear waters offer year-round fishing.  Trout fishing is found in the lake's tailwaters.


For more information about these lakes and others, call the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department toll free at 1-800-652-6552 or visit the web site at http://www.travelok.com   



Copyright © 2002, Couple to Couple League International. All rights reserved.
Revised: January 2002