Home / Travel / 18 of the Best and Prettiest Lakes in Oklahoma

18 of the Best and Prettiest Lakes in Oklahoma

By | Last Updated: 16th December 2022

Oklahoma, known for the highest number of artificial lakes in the United States, houses about 200 of them, mostly created by damming rivers. However, you will also find a few natural ones, including a series of oxbow (U-shaped or curved) and playa (dry lake bed) lakes. Bordered by mighty bluffs and pine trees, most of them offer a picturesque vista appealing to the eye.

The breathtaking views of the changing colors of the trees surrounding the beautiful lakes, mostly during fall, are something that you surely wouldn’t want to miss.  Like most other lakes in the United States, these too lie within a state park, giving one the scope to swim, boat, fish, and camp. So if desiring to soak yourself in nature’s lap amidst the clean blue waters and have a joyous vacation, do keep the Oklahoma lakes as a part of your bucket list.

Lakes in Oklahoma

Lakes in Northern Oklahoma

1. Grand Lake o’ the Cherokees

Grand Lake o the Cherokees Northern Oklahoma

Created by the Pensacola Dam in 1940, the Grand Lake o’ the Cherokees lies in the Ozark Mountain Range. The state’s third-largest, it has a 1300 mile long scenic shoreline. A boat ride on Cherokee Queen would be ideal for witnessing the enchanting beauty of the surrounding.

The Cherokee State Park on its western shore is excellent for camping and other fun activities. There is a separate camping site and picnic spot for family travelers as well.

You can also visit the nearby Har-Ber Village Museum for some historical insights into the area or hike the 2 miles long Nature Trail.

Fishing: You can have a great time catching bass, catfish, crappie, sunfish, bluegill, and paddlefish.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, skiing, sailing, camping, nature gazing, hiking

Get Directions | Contact

2. Keystone Lake

Keystone Lake in Northern Oklahoma

You will find Keystone Lake amidst the towering sandstone bluffs, grasslands, hills, and sandy beaches. The appealing scenery, along with the lake’s blue-green water, makes it a perfect getaway spot.

Recreation facilities abound in the lake area, including eleven boat ramps, three marinas, and so on. In addition, there are many state parks along its wooded shoreline, like Keystone State Park and Walnut Creek Park, from where you will get excellent lake views. You can also hike the Sand Plum Trail and enjoy the visual treat of the surrounding natural beauty.

Do not miss out on sighting the white-tailed deer, bobcat, raccoon, rabbit, beaver, dove, ducks, or geese frequenting here.

It is an ideal overnight outing spot as amply furnished cabins and campsite facilities ranging from primitive to hook-ups are available.

Fishing: Striped bass, black bass, sand bass, largemouth and smallmouth bass, walleye, catfish, and crappie are plentiful.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, water skiing, hiking, camping, nature gazing, hunting, wildlife watching

Get Directions | Contact

3. Skiatook Lake

Skiatook Lake Northern Oklahoma

Located in Hominy Creek in Osage County, Skiatook Lake is the 15th largest of all Oklahoma lakes. Pretty indeed, it has lofty bluffs and grasslands encircling it. The spectacular shoreline makes provision for picnicking and camping alongside other activities. Different trails for hiking are also available here, from where you can get some stunning views.

It is also an abode to various birds and animals, including bald eagles, whitetail deer, quails, doves, raccoons, coyotes, foxes, rabbits, and opossum. Hunting is another sought-after activity, especially in fall.

Fishing: Largemouth bass, channel catfish, black and white crappie, sunfish dwell here. Do not miss out on the bass fishing tournaments held tentatively between March and June.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, sailing, camping, hiking, picnicking, hunting, bird watching, wildlife viewing

Get Directions | Contact

4. Lake Hudson

Lake Hudson in Northern Oklahoma

Also known as Markham Ferry Reservoir, Lake Hudson sits on the Grand River at the foothills of the Ozark Mountains in northeastern Oklahoma. From mighty bluffs and rolling hills to secluded coves, it is a perfect destination to enjoy the sights and sounds of nature. In addition, the 200 miles picturesque shoreline has stunning native plants and trees, beautiful wildflowers, and abundant wildlife all around, including white-tailed deer, geese, and ducks.

You can also stay in the surrounding campgrounds or enjoy boat rides on the serene lake waters. The Snowdale State Park on the lake’s western shore would help satisfy your urge to indulge in water sports.

You could come along with your lunch packs and picnic here or engage in a volleyball game in the courts designated for the purpose. 

Fishing: This lake is well known for its stock of bass. Other varieties include crappie, bluegill, channel catfish, saugeye, and perch.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, camping, wildlife viewing, hiking, picnicking, nature gazing, wildlife viewing

Get Directions  

5. Oologah Lake

Oologah Lake in Northern Oklahoma

Oologah Lake gets its source from the Verdigris River and supplies water to the Tulsa region. Oologah is a Cherokee word translating to ‘dark clouds.’ The 209 miles shoreline has several parks, campgrounds, boat ramps, a swimming beach, and a marina packed all around.

The 25 kilometers long Will Rogers Country Centennial Trail traverses on the east side of the lake, offering a panoramic view. Another added advantage is the provisions for hunting in the Oologah Public Hunting Area, with squirrel, deer, rabbit, and waterfowl being the primary game.

Fishing: Anglers visiting the lake enjoy catching the largemouth bass, sand bass, catfish, walleye, and crappie.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, sailing, water skiing, canoeing, picnicking, camping, hunting, horseback riding

Get Directions | Contact

6. Great Salt Plains Lake

Great Salt Plains Lake in Northern Oklahoma

Great Salt Plains Lake in northeastern Oklahoma is a part of the Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge. This salty lake with minimum depth attained its name because of the salt plains in the surrounding region. You can have a great time collecting selenite crystals found alongside the western shorelines.

Red rock bluffs and swimming beaches encompass the lake, and the surrounding is pretty impressive during the fall season.  It also dots a primitive campground, a natural trail, a selenite crystal digging area, an auto-tour route, and an observation tower.

This place is a paradise for birdwatchers since it remains inhabited by the blue heron, ibis, great egret, pelicans, ducks, geese, bald eagles, and many colonial birds.

Fishing: You will find the channel catfish, flathead catfish, hybrid striped bass, and saugeye here.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, camping, picnicking, hiking, mountain biking, birdwatching

Get Directions | Contact

Lakes in Southern Oklahoma

1. Broken Bow Lake

Broken Bow Lake in Southern Oklahoma

Broken Bow Lake is one of Oklahoma’s largest and deepest freshwater lakes, offering stunning views of its surroundings. From beautiful, dense forests to the marvelous Ouachita Mountains, it is an abode of scenic beauty. In addition, it is ideal for birdwatching as the place’s setting makes it a home for various native birds. There are several picturesque trails nearby for those who wish to hike, including The Big Oak Nature Trail and the Beaver Lodge Nature Trail.

You can also spot deer and wild turkeys frequenting the area. Beavers Bend State Park, adjacent to the lake, offers a spectacular view of the surrounding alongside recreational activities from swimming to scuba diving. Besides the localites, the place is also a favorite among the neighboring Arkansas and Texas residents.

Fishing: It offers excellent fishing opportunities for the largemouth and smallmouth bass, spotted bass, white bass, catfish, crappie, sunfish, and bluegill.

Other Activities: Swimming, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, scuba diving, birdwatching, nature gazing, horseback riding

Get Directions | Contact

2. Eufaula Lake

Eufaula Lake in Southern Oklahoma

Eufaula Lake is the largest in the state, covering Haskell, Pittsburg, and McIntosh. Its 600 miles shoreline offers many recreational facilities with many sandy beaches and towering bluffs lined alongside it. In addition, you will find several campsites, hiking trails, marinas, and a golfing course around. It also houses three state parks, including the Robber’s Cave State Park. Visit the lake during fall to witness the vibrant landscape of the surrounding hills and foliage.

The waters of Eufaula Lake might be dangerous due to the harmful algae found here. Though swimming and boating is permissible here, one needs to avoid areas where the algae blooms remain visible. Also, the Gentry Creek Recreation Area waters have been marked as high-risk, prohibiting swimming.

 Don’t forget to explore the towns of McAlester and Krebs in your spare time and discover some of the best Italian restaurants there.

Fishing: Anglers enjoy fishing crappie, largemouth bass, sand bass, spotted bass, black bass, catfish dwell here.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, canoeing, picnicking, hiking, camping, horse riding

Get Directions | Contact

3. Lake Texoma

Lake Texoma in Southern Oklahoma

The second largest lake in the state, Lake Texoma is also one of the largest reservoirs in the USA. Its name is a portmanteau of Texas and Oklahoma as it shares its waters with both the states.

It features the Lake Texoma State Park, many small islands, camping grounds, and resorts within Oklahoma. You can also go hiking along The Cross Timbers Hiking Trail, which is 14 miles through prairies and dense forests.

Due to its location and various recreational opportunities, it is one of the most popular tourist destinations, thronged by six million visitors every year.

Fishing: Known as the Striper Capital in the world, Lake Takoma is famous for striped bass. Other than that, you will also find other bass species, crappie, and catfish.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, sailing, cruising, camping, hunting, wildlife watching, horseback riding, picnicking

Get Directions | Contact

4. Lake Murray

Lake Murray in Southern Oklahoma

This lake, known for its pristine spring-fed waters, flows entirely within the oldest and largest Lake Murray State Park. From beaches and a marina to parks and campgrounds dotted along its shoreline, this hidden gem will keep you engaged with lots of fun-filled activities.

Be sure to visit the Lake Murray Nature Center to know more about the lake and its natural surroundings. Also, to get a perfect view of its crystal clear waters, climb up the Tucker Tower in the south end. T

The marina named Lake Murray Marina offers a ship store, boat ramp, and rental boat slips. Many nature trails best for hiking or horseback riding are near the lake.

You need to pay a parking fee to keep your vehicle in the parking lot, starting from $ 10.

Fishing: Wide variety of fish such as largemouth and smallmouth bass, black crappie, white crappie, channel catfish, spotted bass, bluegill, walleye, sunfish, and striped bass inhabit here.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, picnicking, camping, hiking, nature gazing, wildlife viewing, horseback riding, golfing

Get Directions | Contact

5. Cedar Lake

Cedar Lake in Southern Oklahoma

Flowing in the heart of Ouachita National Forest in southeast Oklahoma, Cedar Lake sits at an elevation of 900 feet. Surrounded by tall pine and oak-clad hills, it offers stunning views throughout the year. You can also explore the nearby Winding Stair Mountain Equestrian Trails and Horsethief Springs Trail for some added adventure. To spend some time around the scenic lake, camp in the shore’s campgrounds, like Sandy Beach, Shady Lane, and North Shore.

Fishing: Stocks of giant largemouth bass, catfish, and bluegill are available here.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, canoeing, horseback riding, hiking, picnicking

Get Directions | Contact

6. Sardis Lake

Sardis Lake in Southern Oklahoma

Situated 5 miles from North Clayton in southeastern Oklahoma, Sardis Lake has a beautiful shoreline of 117 miles. It offers breathtaking views with the Ouachita Mountain Range bordering it. You will also find three well-maintained campgrounds, a swimming beach, fishing docks, and picnic shelters.

Fishing: Sardis Lake is famous for fishing several of the giant bass fish in the state. You can also find crappie, walleye, and catfish here.

Other Activities: Boating, water skiing, camping, picnicking

Get Directions | Contact

7. Lake of the Arbuckles

Lake of the Arbuckles in Southern Oklahoma

Lake of the Arbuckles is a small but scenic lake in south-central Oklahoma. The beautiful 36 miles shoreline has secluded coves, woodlands, and prairies surrounding it.

The Chickasaw National Recreation Area, positioned on its northern fringe, offers a diversification of recreational activities. The clear water of the beautiful lake makes it a hub for scuba divers. In addition, you will find many trails from where you can take in the magnificent vista of the entire surrounding and often spot bison grazing in the nearby fields.

Fishing: Largemouth bass, catfish, crappie, white bass, perch, and bluegill are found in abundance.

Other Activities: Swimming,boating, scuba diving, sailing, canoeing, tubing, water skiing, hiking

Get Directions | Contact

Lakes in Eastern Oklahoma

1. Tenkiller Ferry Lake

Tenkiller Ferry Lake in Eastern Oklahoma
Tenkiller Ferry Lake in Eastern Oklahoma

Known as “Oklahoma’s Clear Water Wonderland,” Tenkiller Ferry Lake lays nestled amid the Ozark Mountains’ Cookson Hills. Being one of Oklahoma’s deepest lakes, it is a favorite spot among scuba divers. You could also boat and camp here to your heart’s content since the place has marinas, boat ramps, campgrounds, and tents.

Three trails offer breathtaking vistas for those who wish to wander into nature’s lap. Do tour the surrounding islands like Goat Island. Also, gorge on the sumptuous foods the 5 floating restaurants have to offer.

Take your camera along to capture the goats, whitetail deer, Canada geese, otters, and other wildlife roaming around in the vicinity.

Fishing: The largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, white bass, spotted bass, and channel catfish inhabit the lake.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, scuba diving, camping, hiking, nature gazing, hunting

Get Directions | Contact  

Lakes in Central Oklahoma

1. Lake Overholser

Lake Overholser in Central Oklahoma

Lake Overholser, in Oklahoma City, is another popular destination, though not a big one. You cannot swim here but for sure take a tour around on a boat to enjoy its calm waters and the surrounding scenic views. If you love watching wildlife, visit the Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge that barely takes 20 minutes from here. You can also pack and bring your picnic baskets to the southeast side of the lake, housing a covered picnic pavilion. Finally, watch the glorious sunset from the eastern shore. Camping facilities are not available here. Your dogs can accompany you, but don’t forget to leash them.

Fishing: This lake is famous for white bass, largemouth bass, striped bass, flathead catfish, bluegill, walleye, and crappie.

Other Activities: Boating, jet-skiing, wildlife viewing, picnicking, biking

Get Directions | Contact

2. Lake Hefner

Lake Hefner in Central Oklahoma

Primarily created to supply water to Oklahoma City, Lake Hefner is now a popular destination for locals and visitors alike. There is a paved trail circling the lake where people enjoy walking, jogging, skateboarding, cycling. Forest and wildlife habitation occupy the southern shoreline. You will find many restaurants to crave your hunger opposite the parking lot, along its eastern shoreline.

You can also have a great time picnicking here and watching the lovely sunset. Dogs on a leash can also tag along. Permission for swimming is not available, but you can take pleasure in other water activities. Due to the excellent wind blowing here, kiteboarding is a well-known water sport in Lake Hefner.

Fishing: Largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, bluegill, walleye, channel catfish, black crappie, white bass, and hybrid striped bass are the key catches here.

Other Activities: Kayaking, sailboating, cycling, wildlife watching, kiteboarding, picnicking

Get Directions | Contact

3. Lake Thunderbird

Lake Thunderbird in Central Oklahoma

Lake Thunderbird is a vast artificial lake in Norman City, surrounded by the Lake Thunderbird State Park. It offers provisions for swimming and boating, equipped with two swim beaches, two marinas, a boathouse, and nine boat ramps on the lakeshore. For hikers and bikers, there are many nature trails to explore. Accommodation facilities are in abundance, from primitive campsites to full hook-ups.

An avid bird watcher can spot bald eagles perched along the shoreline, especially in winters. Also, do not miss visiting the Crow’s Secret Nature Center for a guided eagle tour.

This lake gets its name from the Native American supernatural bird known for power and strength. However, due to its murky waters, locals refer it to as Lake Dirtybird. There are speculations of a lake monster, probably a freshwater octopus dwelling here. However, there is no evidence to prove the same.

Fishing: Largemouth bass, white bass, sockeye, crappie, sunfish, and channel catfish are in plenty in this lake.

Other Activities: Swimming, boating, sailing, camping, nature gazing, hiking, biking, bird watching, picnicking, horseback riding

Get Directions | Contact

Lakes in Western Oklahoma

1. Canton Lake

Canton Lake in Western Oklahoma

Tucked away in the high plains of Western Oklahoma, Canton Lake gets its waters from the North Canadian River. The spectacular shoreline meandering along the gentle slopes offers numerous campsites, picnic spots, and a swimming beach. Dense forests, including trees like oak, cedar, elm, and sandy soils, occupy the lake’s north and east parts.

Also, various flowering shrubs, wildflowers, and grasses grow here in abundance that is sure to offer a treat to your eyes. You can hike the nature trail to enjoy some beauteous views. The lake also hosts a Walleye Rodeo, a fishing tournament in May for four days every year to win good prize money. Hunting for deer, dove, wild turkey is a favorite activity here.

Fishing: There are ample fishing opportunities for anglers as the lake has a stock of various fish, including walleye, largemouth bass, white bass, crappie, and channel catfish.

Other Activities: Swimming, sunbathing, boating, water skiing, camping, hunting, picnicking, wildlife watching

Get Directions | Contact


Best Lakes for Fishing: Grand Lake o’ the Cherokees, Canton Lake, Lake Hefner

Best Lakes for Swimming: Lake Murray, Cedar Lake, Lake Eufaula

Best Lakes to Live On: Lake Eufaula, Grand Lake o’ the Cherokees, Keystone Lake

Best Lakes for Camping: Grand Lake o’ the Cherokees, Keystone Lake, Tenkiller Ferry Lake

Best Lakes for Boating: Lake Thunderbird, Lake Texoma, Tenkiller Ferry Lake

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    • Hola!

      Hello there! My name is Jay and I run this website. I'm a full-time traveler and freelance writer. This is where I share travel advice and help people pursue their traveling dreams.

      You can learn more about me and my mission on the about me page.

      It's nice to have you here :)

  • Connect with me:

    I LOVE connecting with fellow travelers. Hit me up on social media!