About Oklahoma Lakes
Oklahoma has approximately 3,000 lakes and ponds that are 10 acres or more in size. Of these, there are 53 lakes that span more than 1,000 acres. An estimated 387,000 smaller lakes and ponds are scattered across the State.
Oklahoma's Largest Lake
If Oklahoma lakes are ranked by surface area, Lake Eufaula is the largest. Spanning 105,500 acres, Eufaula also ranks first for length of shoreline with almost 834 miles, and ranks second for capacity with 2.3 million acre-feet of water. If Oklahoma lakes are ranked by capacity, Lake Texoma gets the top spot. With more than 2.7 million acre-feet of water, it is the twelfth largest Corps of Engineers lake by volume in the United States. Texoma ranks second largest in the state for surface area, spanning 88,000 acres, and second for length of shoreline with 592 miles.
Oklahoma's Oldest Lake
Built in 1902, Lake Talawanda 1 is the oldest Oklahoma lake featured in this atlas. Despite its age, Talawanda 1 has an “excellent” rating for clarity and has limited algae growth from nutrients, according to the OWRB’s 2014 Beneficial Use Monitoring Program (BUMP) report. The lake is still used as a backup public water supply source for the City of McAlester, and along with its twin, Talawanda 2, offers boat ramps, fishing areas, picnic areas, group facilities, and a playground.
Oxbows and Playas
Oxbows and playas are the only naturally formed lakes in Oklahoma. Oxbows, found in every county, are formed when a winding section of river cuts back on itself forming a horseshoe segment that is isolated from the rest of the river. This segment is often seasonally wet, providing excellent wetland habitat for Oklahoma wildlife. Playas, found exclusively in the Panhandle, are generally small, shallow, and intermittent wetland depressions.
Oklahoma's Clearest Lake
Broken Bow Lake in southeast Oklahoma has held the top spot for clarity for many years with a Secchi depth of 237 cm (93.3 in) and a turbidity reading of 3 NTU.* In 2014, there were 25 other lakes that received an “Excellent” rating for clarity (listed below in order of highest rating). Secchi depth and turbidity—used to determine overall clarity—are two of several parameters analyzed in samples collected by the BUMP team at approximately 130 lakes on a five-year rotation schedule since 1998. The 2014 BUMP Report shows Secchi depth readings as low as 13 cm (5.1 in) and turbidity readings as high as 333 NTU. Turbidity measurements are an important indicator in determining if a lake is fully supporting the fish and wildlife propagation beneficial use. View 2014 BUMP summary sheets for each lake.
1. Broken Bow
3. W.R. Holway
5. John Wells
7. Elmer Thomas
8. Stilwell City
9. Talawanda 1
12. Texoma (Dam)
13. Tenkiller (Lower)
14. McGee Creek
16. Talawanda 2
20. Wayne Wallace
21. Grand (Lower)
22. Ardmore City
23. Eufaula (Dam)
24. Hominy Municipal
Some Oklahoma lakes appear red, brown, or green instead of blue. Lakes may be red in color due to the high iron content of clay soils. Lakes that are tea-colored or brown usually derive their color from an abundance of organic material, which can be washed into the lake from its watershed or can originate within the lake itself. The green color in lakes is most likely due to algae.
Threats to Oklahoma Lakes
Five years of drought recently left many Oklahoma lakes with historically low water levels, affecting both the availability of water supplies for consumptive uses and the capability of lakes to sustain life cycles of aquatic plants and organisms that are critical to their ecosystems. Local economies are frequently affected when low water levels render revenue-generating lakes unusable for fishing and other recreational activities. There are also safety concerns for boaters and swimmers when previously submersed features become hazards. Lake managers across the state are now looking for new ways to conserve and supplement water supplies in preparation for future drought.
Lakes of Oklahoma maps are designed both for research and utility in the field. The area depicted on each map will vary depending on the size and shape of the lake. Units of scale are expressed in miles or feet, depending upon the lake’s size. Orientation maps showing the Oklahoma Comprehensive Water Plan (OCWP) Watershed Planning Region for each lake are included on each map page.
Some maps in Lakes of Oklahoma contain lake bottom contour elevations obtained from OWRB bathymetric surveys and ODWC publications. The contour and depth information derived from bathymetric surveys not only enhances fishing and related recreational activities, but also provides updated water storage information, which can be used to create new area and capacity curves, as input for dam breach and inundation modeling, water quality analysis, water use permitting, and long-range planning. Data from bathymetric surveys gives users a general idea of lake depths but should not be used as navigational charts for boating.
Water Quality Information
The OWRB is responsible for classifying beneficial uses and assigning them to each lake based on the primary benefits derived from those waters by the public. The OWRB also establishes standards of quality for each lake that will maintain and protect water quality for each use assigned. Beneficial uses for each lake are listed on the lake data tables. The Oklahoma Water Quality Standards (OWQS) also provide special protection for Sensitive Water Supplies (SWS), High Quality Waters (HQW), and Nutrient Limited Watersheds (NLW). More information about these designations and water quality monitoring in Oklahoma lakes can be found on the Lakes of Oklahoma Water Quality page.
For each lake, GPS coordinates were selected in central locations reachable by car and near one or more key lake features, such as the park office, boat ramps, or fishing docks. GPS location symbols have been added to the maps in these selected locations and coordinates have been placed at the top of the map pages for ease of use.
Depending on the map scale, some recreation features may not have been included. Contact individual lake managers for more information. For larger lakes, a leader line may be used with the feature icon symbol to depict a more exact location, and feature icons for the same location may be grouped. Key features for each lake, including boat ramps, camping, fishing docks, picnic areas, playgrounds, swimming areas, trails, and marinas, are listed with the legend on the inside front cover of the atlas. Additional features are listed as Visitor Attractions on the lake data tables.
State Fishing Records
There are 20 species of state record fish recognized on map pages of lakes where they were caught. These fish are featured on the back cover of the atlas as well. A list of all state record fish can be found on the ODWC website, along with guidelines and other information about state and lake record fish.
Aquatic Nuisance Species
Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) are invasive, non-native aquatic species that pose significant threats to aquatic ecosystems as well as the local and state economy. These species can include fish, aquatic plants, algae, invertebrates, mussels, viruses, and other aquatic pathogens. For more information on ANS, visit the Lakes of Oklahoma ANS page or the ODWC website.
Comments and Questions
Contact the OWRB at (405)530-8800 for general comments. For GIS-related questions, corrections, or comments, email Tracy Scopel, OWRB GIS Manager. For suggestions or corrections to the text, data tables, graphics, layout, or online version, contact Lakes of Oklahoma editors Darla Whitley and Kylee Wilson. Contact the ODWC Fish Division at (405)521-3721 for information on state record fish and the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program.
©1998-2018, Oklahoma Water Resources Board