Oklahoma has 200 lakes that cover more than a million acres, and going to the lake is one of the most popular ways to spend a weekend in OK, whether you want to fish, sail, swim, or take a long stroll around the glimmering blue waters. Most of Oklahoma lakes are man-made, created out of need to control floods, create electricity, or provide water for the cities, but once nature took over and people added some fish, they became a part of the state’s beautiful landscape.
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Arcadia Lake is a 1,725-acre man-made lake in central Oklahoma, in the Frontier Country Region. It is the result of building a dam across Deep Fork River. The area around the lake is a lovely mix of grasslands surrounded by forests and is known as the Cross Timbers. The lake is popular for boating, windsurfing, and sailing, and anglers can catch largemouth bass, catfish, striped bass, bluegill, and crappies. Spring Creek Park even has an indoor heated fishing dock for those cold months. The area around the lake is also very popular with birdwatchers and nature lovers as it is full of wildlife. Central State Park, Edmond Park and Spring Creek Park are located on the lake and offer sandy beaches, boat ramps, ball fields, and playgrounds.
2.Farmer's Creek Reservoir
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Farmer's Creek Reservoir, better known as Lake Nocona, is a man-made lake created as a result of a dam built on Farmer's Creek. The lake is located in the Prairies and Lakes region near the Oklahoma and Texas border. The lake is a famous bass fishing destination in the spring and summer, especially near the dam. Other fish in the lake are channel catfish, crappie, blue catfish, sunfish, hybrid striped bass, and white bass. The lake is also popular for sailing, boating, kayaking and canoeing and the area around the lake has nice camping spots. There are a number of towns around the lake, but the biggest and the most popular is Lake Nocona with a free boat launch, picnic areas, and camping.
3.Fort Cobb Reservoir
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Fort Cobb Lake is a 4,100-acre lake in southwestern Oklahoma in the Great Plains Country. The lake is surrounded by vast plains, green prairies and rolling hills. The lake is man-made as the Fort Cobb Dam construction in 1959, completed by impounding Cobb Creek. Fort Cobb State Park, located on the lake, has a visitor's center and bait and tackle shop. The lake is popular for boating and water skiing and has two swim beaches, a campground, and cabins. Anglers come to the reservoir for largemouth bass, catfish, crappie, and saugeye. The area around the lake has a large crow roost, falcons, and bald eagles. An area designated as a wildlife management area at the north of Fort Cobb Reservoir is covered in oak trees, red cedars, blackjack, native grasses, and thickets of plum trees, and it is full of wildlife.
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Heyburn Lake is a 920-acre lake in northeastern Oklahoma surrounded by rolling hills and dense patches of forests with 52 miles of gorgeous shoreline. The lake is a popular vacation area with facilities for boating, waterskiing, picnicking, hiking, and camping. There are several nice swimming beaches and many boat ramps to allow fishermen easy access to the waters full of largemouth bass, catfish, crappie, and sunfish. Next to the lake is the Heyburn Public Hunting Area, and rabbit, quail, wild turkey, waterfowl, and white tail deer live in the forested areas. Several small picturesque and touristy towns in the area offer unique attractions – Sapulpa, Jenks, and many others.
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Keystone Lake is a large 26,000-acre lake in north-central Oklahoma only 15 miles from Tulsa. The lake has a 330-mile long shoreline surrounded by sandy beaches, sandstone bluffs, and steep hills covered in cedar, oak, and hickory. There are a number of boat ramps all around the lake as well as marinas and camping areas. This man-made lake was created in 1957 as the result of the Keystone Dam construction over the Arkansas River. The lake’s main purpose is flood control as well as power production and water supply to the surrounding cities. Anglers love Keystone Lake for its rich population of striped, sand, black and smallmouth bass, crappie, and channel catfish. Keystone, Walnut Creek, and Feyodi Creek State parks provide different kinds of camping as well as rental cabins. Hikers, bikers, and horseback riders use the 15-mile long scenic Sand Plum Trail.
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Konawa Lake is a 1,350-acre reservoir in south central Oklahoma best known for its world class bass fishing. The lake has been created to provide power for the local communities, but it is also very popular for water sports and fishing. The area around the lake is designated a wildlife refuge. The best time to observe wildlife is during the annual bird migration, and the best way to truly enjoy the lake’s incredible natural beauty is from a kayak or canoe. The lake has a few nice swimming beaches, boating ramps, and picnic areas. A number of scenic trails encircle the lake and are used for hiking, biking, and horseback riding.
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Lake Stanley Draper is a 2900-acre reservoir created in 1963 to provide water for Oklahoma City. The lake is known as a popular water skiing lake because of its large expanse of open water, rare in the urban area. The lake is also used for boating, sailing and windsurfing. There is a marina that provides fishing tackle, boat fuel and fishing licenses, as well as boat rental. There are a number of campgrounds on the lakefront. A mile long shoreline is dotted with picnic areas, playgrounds, sport courts and has even a golf course. There are no beaches and swimming is prohibited. A system of trails runs around the lake with several miles of scenic paths for hikers, bikers, and horseback riders. Fishing is also popular, and the lake is well stocked with channel catfish, crappie, sunfish, largemouth bass, and white bass.
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Lake Ellsworth is a 5,600-acre reservoir nestled in Southwest Oklahoma in the Great Plains. The lake was created as a result of the construction of Ellsworth Dam in 1962 as a water reservoir for the area. With 43 miles of shoreline, Lake Ellsworth has great opportunities for camping, swimming, and picnicking. Three major campgrounds, Edgewater, Collier Landing and Chandler Creek, offer primitive campsites as well as a few with RV hookups. Lake Ellsworth is a fisherman’s delight, full of crappie, flathead catfish, catfish, largemouth bass, sunfish, saugeye, walleye, and white bass. With wide expanses of open water, the lake is very popular with boaters, water skiers, and other water sport enthusiasts. Swimming is allowed in most of the lake except close to the dam. Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge is nearby, with the free roaming American bison.
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Eufaula Lake is a 105,000-acre man-made lake in eastern Oklahoma created after the construction of the Walter F. George Dam on the Canadian River in 1964. The lake’s main purpose is flood control, but it also provides water supply, power production, and recreation. The shoreline of the lake varies depending on the area – at some parts it has rocky cliffs and in others fine sandy beaches. The water is murky from the agricultural runoff in some parts and clear and blue in other, much deeper areas. Eufaula Lake is famous for its bass fishing and has many annual tournaments. Besides largemouth bass, the lake also has catfish, sandbass, and crappie. Lake Eufaula State Park has 235 campsites, outdoor and indoor fishing, a marina, several hiking trails, and a nice beach. Arrowhead State Park has 214 campsites, horse stables, equestrian trails, and stables, kids’ playgrounds, a miniature golf course, and an 18-hole golf course.
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The 2,500-acre Lake Hefner was created in 1947 when Hefner Dam was completed for the purpose of increasing water supply in Oklahoma City. The lake is located in northwest Oklahoma and has 18 miles of diverse shoreline. Lake Hefner is famous for excellent sailing, and there are regular weekend sailboat races. The pleasant scenic shoreline is great for picnicking, and a rich fish population makes it popular for fishing. Picturesque shoreline is encircled with nine miles of scenic hiking and biking trails. On the east side of the lake there are six-foot wide flat trails for pedestrians only. Lake Hefner has no significant residential development, and its south side still has the original forest and wildlife habitat.
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Lake Lawtonka is a scenic 2,400-acre man-made lake located in Comanche County in southwestern Oklahoma about 15 miles from the city of Lawton. The Lake Lawtonka was created in 1907 by damming nearby Medicine Bluff Creek. With the scenic Wichita Mountains nearby and almost 20 miles of shoreline, the area is very popular for holidays and weekend recreation. The lake is famous among anglers for its smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, crappie, catfish, bluegill, and other species of fish.
Fishermen and other visitors have access to several full-service marinas, boat ramps, docks, campsites, picnic areas, grills, and other facilities. The Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge consists of 59,000 acres of wild, unspoiled beauty and is home to American bison, white-tailed deer, Texas longhorn cattle, Rocky Mountain elk, coyotes, mountain lions, bobcats, red-tailed hawks, and turkey.
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Lake Murray is located in southcentral Oklahoma within Lake Murray State Park, Oklahoma's largest and oldest state park. Damming the Anadarche and Fourche Maline creeks in 1941 resulted in the creation of this 5,728-acre reservoir near the city of Ardmore. The unique Tucker Tower serves as the park’s nature center and museum and has interesting displays of wildlife living in the area. Mainly spring-fed, the lake waters are clear and excellent for a number of water sports, especially fishing and scuba diving. The lake is well stocked with big bass, crappie, drum, walleye, catfish, and sunfish. The park offers boat rentals, horse stables, campgrounds, and rental cabins. There is also an 18-hole golf course, softball fields, and facilities for many other sports and activities.
13.Lake of the Arbuckles
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Lake of the Arbuckles is located in southcentral Oklahoma and is part of the popular Chickasaw National Recreation Area. The lake was created when Arbuckle Dam was constructed over Rock Cree in 1966. The lake's 36-mile long shoreline is dotted with campgrounds that have picnic tables, boat ramps, and drinking water. Some even have nice swimming beaches. There are several hiking trails around the lake that offer pleasant views and an opportunity to watch bison grazing in the pasture. The Lake of Arbuckles is the main attraction of the Chickasaw National Recreation Area and offers boating, sailing, water skiing, swimming, tubing, and even scuba diving. Fishing on the lake is popular year round, especially for catfish, crappie, white bass, largemouth bass, bluegill, and sunfish.
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Lake Overholser is a 1,500-acre reservoir constructed in 1919 to supply water to Oklahoma City. Fishing is the lake’s biggest attraction, and there is a nice covered fishing dock on the southwest side. The lake’s average depth is only six feet, but it is nevertheless full of black, sand, striped and hybrid striped bass, sunfish, catfish, walleye, crappie, and saugeye. There are boat ramps all around the lake. Jet skis and motor boats are allowed. There is a large cattail marsh at the north end of the lake, which attracts a huge number of birds in the summer and fall. The best place for picnics on the lake is on the southeast side, where you’ll find a covered picnic pavilion, soccer fields, and tennis courts.
15.McGee Creek Reservoir
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McGee Creek Lake is 3,810-acre reservoir hidden in the densely forested Ouachita Mountains, created in 1988 by damming McGee Creek in order to provide water for Oklahoma City. The lake has been developed as a popular recreational site, and its lower part has been cleared of obstacles to allow safe sailing, boating, and water skiing. The upper portion of the lake has been left pretty natural and wild. A big part of the lake shoreline is part of the McGee Creek State Park, as well as part of McGee Creek Wildlife Management Area and Bugaboo Canyon Natural Scenic Area. There are numerous hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails around the lake. At the south end of McGee Creek Lake between the dam and the spillway, are areas for fishing, boat launch, camping, rest rooms, picnicking, and swimming.
16.Robbers Cave State Park
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Robbers Cave State Pak is the 8,246-acre park located on the slopes of the Sans Bois Mountains in Southeastern Oklahoma. The park contains three lakes: Lake Wayne Wallace, Coon Creek Lake and Lake Carlton. Lake Carlton is a small 46-acre lake created in 1930 purely for recreation by damming the Fouche Maline River. The lake is surrounded by magnificent pine forests and steep rocky cliffs and has a number of hiking and biking trails that take advantage of its breathtakingly beautiful scenery. The park has several camping areas, a lodge, cabins, a nature center, a golf course, a camping area, and other facilities. There are also rental horse stables and miles of equestrian trails. There is a private boat ramp and a boat rental that offers canoes, paddleboats, and kayaks. There is also a nice swimming beach. The lake is stocked with largemouth bass, trout, perch, smallmouth bass, crappie, and bream.
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Sportsman Lake is a 354-acre lake located in central Oklahoma near the town of Seminole. The lake is at the heart of a 1400-acre wildlife refuge and has 15 miles of scenic shoreline, a number of boat ramps, and several fishing docks. The lake is stocked with largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass, channel catfish, flathead catfish, crappie, blue catfish, and sunfish. The shoreline is in parts rocky and in others sandy, open in some areas and wooded and shady in others. Because of the lake’s small size and predominantly fishing purpose, water skiing, tubing, and motorboats are not allowed. The lake has large, shady camping areas, fine sandy beaches, playgrounds, covered pavilions, showers, and a nice covered bridge that serves as a fishing platform. The wooded wildlife refuge around the lake is a delight for hiking, biking, and nature observation, and there is a network of well-maintained trails. Wildlife that lives in the reserve includes deer, raccoon, bald eagles, turkey, hawks, ducks, and geese.
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Texoma Lake is a massive 89,000-acre reservoir shared between Texas and Oklahoma, deep and blue and surrounded by miles of green hills, with 580 miles of shoreline. The lake was created in 1938 by the construction of Denison Dam on the Red River in order to provide flood control and create hydropower. In Oklahoma, the lake is part of the Lake Texoma State Park with great facilities for a fun vacation such as bicycle and boat rentals, horseback riding, campsites, fishing and picnic areas, and a nice sandy swimming beach. Anglers come for catfish or smallmouth bass. The Cross Timbers Hiking Trail is a 14-mile hiking path that meanders through the park and passes by scenic overlooks through rich woodlands and open prairie land.
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Lake Thunderbird is 6, 070-acre reservoir located in the Oklahoma’s Frontier Country Region near the town of Norman. The lake is part of the Lake Thunderbird State Park and was created in 1956 to ensure water supply for the neighboring communities. The lake’s 86 miles of shoreline are full of opportunities for recreation, especially within the Lake Thunderbird State Park, which offers facilities for camping, swimming, hiking and picnicking. The park has two marinas on the lake, a horse stable, a restaurant and a community center called The Boathouse. A Nature Center offers guided hiking tours and wildlife seminars. The park also has an archery range and miles of horseback riding, hiking, and biking trails. The park has more than 400 campsites, several boat ramps, and fishing piers.
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Waurika Lake is a 10,000-acre reservoir created in 1963 by damming Beaver Creek in order to control floods, provide irrigation, ensure water supply, and control water quality. The lake has 80 miles of scenic shoreline that slopes toward the water and is popular for watersports such as water skiing, boating, and jet skiing. The green areas around the lake are very pleasant for a weekend picnic, camping, a long hike, or horseback riding. A number of recreational areas around the lake offer facilities such as restrooms, boat ramps, showers, picnic areas, shelters, and beaches. The lake is well-stocked with channel catfish, largemouth bass, flathead catfish, white bass, crappie, hybrid striper, walleye, and sunfish, to the delight of anglers.
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20 Best Oklahoma Lakes
- Arcadia Lake, Photo: Courtesy of eugenesergeev - Fotolia.com
- Farmer's Creek Reservoir, Photo: Courtesy of Al - Fotolia.com
- Fort Cobb Reservoir, Photo: Courtesy of vitusia - Fotolia.com
- Heyburn Lake, Photo: Courtesy of ther123 - Fotolia.com
- Keystone Lake, Photo: Courtesy of Foap.com - Fotolia.com
- Konawa Lake, Photo: Courtesy of Golubev Dmitrii - Fotolia.com
- Lake Draper, Photo: Courtesy of Les Palenik - Fotolia.com
- Lake Ellsworth, Photo: Courtesy of psartstudio - Fotolia.com
- Lake Eufaula, Photo: Courtesy of semanita - Fotolia.com
- Lake Hefner, Photo: Courtesy of Gray Photography - Fotolia.com
- Lake Lawtonka, Photo: Courtesy of Tyler - Fotolia.com
- Lake Murray, Photo: Courtesy of Gudellaphoto - Fotolia.com
- Lake of the Arbuckles, Photo: Courtesy of Raquel Bagnol - Fotolia.com
- Lake Overholser, Photo: Courtesy of idoerenberg - Fotolia.com
- McGee Creek Reservoir, Photo: Courtesy of aclodo - Fotolia.com
- Robbers Cave State Park, Photo: Courtesy of rjamphoto - Fotolia.com
- Sportsman Lake, Photo: Courtesy of leszekglasner - Fotolia.com
- Texoma Lake, Photo: Courtesy of tamdesigns - Fotolia.com
- Thunderbird Reservoir, Photo: Courtesy of radu79 - Fotolia.com
- Waurika Reservoir, Photo: Courtesy of eugenesergeev - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Gray Photography - Fotolia.com