Are you planning a summer vacation for the family and are just not sure where to go? Have a business trip and looking for things to do? Or perhaps you'd like to check out a new state, or are on a road trip with your family? Check out these 8 beautiful lakes in Oklahoma and see if these whet your palate. In the summer, they are a perfect place to cool off from the heat, while in fall and spring they are alive with blossoms or the reds and oranges of autumn.
8 Gorgeous Lakes In Oklahoma Worth Visiting
1. Ardmore, OK
Lake Murray near Ardmore, OK is an excellent place for those looking for a lake vacation. Rent a houseboat for the weekend for a true lakeside location—you may not even have to touch dry land! Around two hours from nearby Dallas, Lake Murray State Park has ample offerings for the sports enthusiast, from golf to water sports. Kids tagging along can visit the petting zoo at Woodbine Farm Pumpkin Patch or can go horseback riding at Lake Murray Riding Stables and get their equine fix. The Tucker Tower Nature Center is rife with fossils and even a 288-pound meteorite for exploring and educating kids about their world. For a romp in the woods, try hiking to Turner Falls in the Arbuckle Mountains or exploring the Collings Castle ruins in Davis. City folk might choose to reconnoitre on the Main Street drag for shopping and taking in the aesthetic endeavors of the Charles B. Goddard Center. Museums abound, so make sure to check them out before testing Lady Luck at the Gold Mountain Casino and catching a performance at Two Frog’s Grill.
Cherokee Landing State Park, nestled in the Cookson Hills, boasts the well-loved Lake Tenkiller, just outside the major city Muskogee in eastern Oklahoma. Park at your RV site or pitch your tent and get out your fishing rod for some of the area’s best fishing spots. Bass, crappie, and catfish abound. Stretch your scuba muscles at Tenkiller’s dive park or drive over to the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge an exercise your avian admiration on a southern eagle nesting tour and loon watch. Birds are plentiful near the Driftwood Nature Center. Satisfy your water needs by kayaking on the lake, or swing by other popular cities Park Hill (home of a very cute annual May Day celebration) and Tahlequah. Tenkiller is a short drive from another popular vacation spot, Greenleaf Lake, so if you’re interested I visiting more than one, the proximity of this option will appeal to you.
Lake Hefner (not named after the infamous Hugh) is home to some of the best sailing waters in the state. While swimming, jet skiing, and water skiing are not allowed here (the late is a water reservoir), water sports like wind and kite surfing are permitted. Catch an Oklahoma City Boat Club race in the summer or bust out your binocular for some amateur ornithology on Prarie Dog Point. Fishing requires a city permit but once you’ve acquired one, the bluegills, crappie, walleye, bass, and catfish are all yours. If you tire of human companionship, feel free to take your pup on an off-leash run in the OKC PawPark. Your dog can even take a dip in the Duck Pond. Oklahoma City also offers lots of fun activities for kids and adults alike. Some worth spotlighting are the Fairy Ball, Better Barrel Races World Finals, the Medieval Faire in Reaves Park, and the Cowboy Round-Up at the Oklahoma History Center. Make sure to check dates, times, and prices before you go. Just outside of Oklahoma City is the city of El Reno, featuring the Ghosts of Fort Reno tour. Original base of the famed Buffalo soldiers, the camp built in 1874 was designed to protect Arapaho and Cheyenne and purportedly is the site of copious amount of paranormal activity. Feel free to take a tour and judge for yourself. If ghost tours are not your passion or if you have small children, the Montmartre Chalk Art Festival (on April 7th this year) is a good, wholesome festival to visit in nearby Chickashaw.
4. Afton, OK
Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees (also known as Grand Lake) in northeast Oklahoma has he classic outdoor activity sports like hiking, swimming, and boating, but it’s big appeal is access to at least 100 other activities near the lake. If you have your fill of sunbathing and exploring Monkey Island rides via horseback, check out one of the several museums in the area (great for kids), particularly Darryl Starbird’s Custom Car Museum and the Har-ber Village Museum. Route 66 runs right through Afton and a gas station has been converted to a museum housing memorabilia related to the famed cross-country road. Practice your putting skills at Shangri-La Golf Club, gamble your pennies at one of the several casinos, or get your inner animal nut sated at Zena Suri Alpacas. The Flying Cow arena is great for kids with their Country Kids rodeo and many other events throughout the year. Check out this gem if you get the chance!
Keystone Lake is a favorite for those who want to vacation close to Tulsa. Canoe, waterski, and kite surf to your soul’s content (starting April 1st this year, the lake’s opening date). Tear up the sand with your ATV near the dam. Rent a pontoon boat and dive your heart out, then catch a bite to eat at the floating restaurant if you’re there at the right time of year. Once you’ve explored the lake, trundle over to Tulsa and catch the Life in Color: Kingdom paint party at the BOK Center or volunteer yourself for a coffee overdose at the annual Tulsa Caffeine Crawl. Cafes visited include Foolish Things Coffee Company, Chimera Cafe, Dwelling Spaces with Joebot's Coffee Bar, Hodges Bend and Mod's Coffee & Crepes. Then return to the lake triumphantly and settle down for a comfortable night in your tent or RV.
6. Jet, OK
Great Salt Plains Lake is located in a state park by the same name, which is situated on what was formerly a prehistoric land mass. The residual salt left over from said ocean is what gives the plains this name, and the lake itself is saltwater, unlike most lakes in Oklahoma. This makes fishing especially appealing here. Swimming, horseback riding, hiking, and biking are common activities. What makes this lake really stand out, however, is that visitors are able to go on a crystal dig in Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge. The hourglass-shaped crystals are one of a kind. If you’re interested in events, a bit outside the park in Okeene there’s a yearly Rattlesnake Round Up that you can watch (and participate in, if you’re adventurous enough). Similar events like the Mangum Rattlesnake Round Up and the Apache Rattlesnake festival occur in other parts of the state.
7. Eufaula, OK
Eufaula Lake, the largest in Oklahoma, hosts visitors every year out to catch some prinme bass, catfish, stripers, and crappie. The lake itself has many similar activities to other lakes, such as water sports, hiking, hunting, and golf. Saddle up for a good time at the War Paint Horse Ranch or drink away your nerves at Sailing Horse Vineyards and Winery. A day trip away is Robber’s Cave State Park where outlaws used to hide out, which continue to be great for exploring. Other good day trips include nearby Muskogee, which hosts the Oklahoma Renaissance Festival at certain times of year, or if you have an affinity for Czech pastries, the annual Kolache Festival in Prague, OK should do the trick. This carnival is great for kids and features polka dancing, a mechanical bull, dancing, wine tasting, a parade, pony rides, food, and a beer garden. Be sure to check out the largest lake in the Sooner State!
Beavers Bend and Hochatown State Park is home to Broken Bow Lake, a popular destination for travelers of all kinds. Mountain Fork Lake is ideal for letting your fishing bait fly—just make sure not to do it near scuba diving area! Backpackers and casual hikers populate the area. Swing by Girls Gone Wine after a long day of physical activity exploring the Kiamichi and Ouachita Mountains. During June, you can catch the Kiamichi Owa-Chito Festival of the Forest, or cruise by the Little River National Wildlife Refuge. Investigate the Gardner Mansion and Museum or watch some fowl play at Reed Slough Wildlife Management area. Check out the “gem of the state!”
This article was written by Lindy Tolbert.