Warmer weather sends people searching for fun in the sun, and being on a lake is always a hit with friends and family! Boating, swimming, watersports, and fishing are just a few activities you can do while beating the heat in the hot Oklahoma summer. So when you think about places to visit with great beaches and shorelines, Oklahoma would not be the first place to come to mind.
But you should not sleep on the Sooner State! Oklahoma wears its Lake Country pin with pride, containing more shoreline than the Atlantic and Gulf coasts combined. In addition, Oklahoma is home to over two hundred lakes, all of which are man-made. So, Oklahoma might be the land-locked gem you have been looking for.
What is Oklahoma’s Big Three?
Stunning views, calm swimming beaches, and never-ending adventures are just a few of the things awaiting you at one of Oklahoma’s big three. Sparkling lakes in every corner of the state summon swimmers, anglers, and outdoors enthusiasts alike. Oklahoma is home to the “big three,” which are three of the larger lakes in the Sooner State. Lake Tenkiller, Grand Lake, and Eufaula Lake offer a variety of beautiful places to visit and enjoy. The outdoor attractions that these three offers make visiting them a must!
Lake Tenkiller is known as “heaven in the hills,” and the nickname does not quite do it justice. The emerald water, tall rock bluffs, and shoreline seem to stretch forever. Located in Cookson, a trip to Tenkiller would be ideal for any outdoor fanatic. The clear water has made Tenkiller perfect for scuba divers that do not want to make a trek to the Gulf or either coast.
However, if being on land is more your speed, Tenkiller has a great family resort, Fin and Feather, which gives you plenty of camping, playgrounds, and sports courts to play on! In addition, there are plenty of great places to grab a bite to eat! Tenkiller, like all the lakes in Oklahoma that have become great tourist spots, boasts plenty of local businesses to cater to the needs of people coming in to enjoy the beautiful area.
Lake Eufaula covers parts of McIntosh County, Pittsburg, Haskell, and Okmulgee counties in eastern Oklahoma. Eufaula has over six hundred miles of shoreline. It is actually the largest-capacity lake in Oklahoma. Activities at Lake Eufaula include boating, fishing, swimming, hiking, hunting, golfing, and horseback riding. Picnic areas are distributed throughout the region.
The water is the star in Eufaula, where sandy beaches are perfect spots for swimming. At the numerous marinas, you can rent all types of watercraft. Eufaula is the best location for adventure-seeking families. There are paddle boats, mini golf, pools, and sand volleyball at Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park. There are also over one hundred and fifty RV sites on or near the lake! Eufaula has so many great amenities that it just makes sense to check it out!
Grand Lake lives up to its name! Grand Lake is a prime spot for making memories with your family in the Ozark Mountains’ foothills. The lake has over 1,300 miles of shoreline, driving this northeastern Oklahoma gem a top destination for anyone looking for lakeside fun. While Grand Lake is smaller than Eufaula in surface area, it makes up in conveniences for anything it lacks in size.
With five park areas around the shoreline, there are plenty of lodging, dining, and recreation options. The water is perfect for fishermen and women! Angling for bass, catfish, bluegill, and crappie will keep you busy for as long as possible. Known for its welcoming lake culture, Grand Lake’s eateries, resorts, and shops are laid back and perfect for a getaway.
What are Other Lakes Recommended in Oklahoma?
The great thing about Oklahoma lakes is that if you do not want to travel to one of the big three, you are close to another great body of water. In south-central Oklahoma, striking sunsets and almost 6,000 acres of blue water jam-packed with smallmouth bass await you at Lake Murray in Ardmore. Beautiful hills and forests surround the lake and the historic Tucker Tower. This 65-foot limestone tower was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) as a summer sanctuary for former Oklahoma Governor William H. “Alfalfa Bill” Murray. However, it has been transformed into a geological museum and nature center. This stunning structure offers a gorgeous bird’s-eye view of the lake and surrounding area. Lake Murray is just one of the many lakes in Oklahoma that provide unbelievable sunrises and picturesque sunsets!
But if a large lake is not what you are looking for, you must choose many other small regional lakes around the state. One option is Lake Altus-Lugert. For example, the once-thriving town of Lugert was abandoned in the early 20th century after a natural calamity destroyed many structures. The area is now a beautiful escape tucked away in the rocky plains of southwestern Oklahoma. The lake is surrounded by granite formations on the western edge of the Wichita Mountains. The lake offers fantastic boating, swimming, hiking, and hunting opportunities.
Kaw Lake near Ponca City is a hidden gem in northern Oklahoma. An area is also fantastic for fishermen and women to reel in crappie, sand bass, walleye, and more. Kaw Lake is the entryway to the Red Carpet Country in northwestern Oklahoma. Water may not be the star of the show in this part of the world, but you’ll still find several amazing lakes—including the state’s only saltwater lake—offering heaps of fun and relief from the heat of the high plains.
Oklahoma has so much to offer in the way of tourism. The lakes across the state are home to local eateries, small businesses, and locals who can provide expert information and knowledge about the area. It is quite a feat for a landlocked state to have more shorelines than the Gulf and the Atlantic coasts combined, all from man-made lakes. There are over a million surface acres of water covering our beautiful state. The Sooner State is a water enthusiast’s dream. Whether boating, fishing, or swimming, Oklahoma’s lakes have what you are looking for!
What Is Your Favorite Lake in Oklahoma?
While only a small sample of the shorelines found in Oklahoma, this should encourage you to go out and explore the state’s fantastic lakes. Did we miss a great lake or other body of water that you think should be featured in an upcoming article? Leave a comment below and let us know!