Grand Lake, Oklahoma
Welcome to the best lake in Oklahoma!
Welcome to Grand Lake o’ the Cherokees!
The Grand Lake o’ the Cherokees is in northeastern Oklahoma, in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains on the Grand (Neosho) River. The lake has more than 59,000 surface acres of water and 1,300 miles of shoreline that curves and curls into sheltered coves then straightens out into long spans of immaculate beaches. Grand Lake is proud of its standing as one of the premier bass fishing lakes in the U. S., but anglers also flock to the lake for the huge catfish, hybrid stripers, crappies and bluegill. The lake also has the distinction of being home to more prehistoric paddlefish than anywhere else in the world.
Grand Lake is 66 miles long and winds through the scenic Ozarks, making it a boater’s paradise no matter what your boat of choice: houseboat, muscle boat, cigarette boat, pontoon, Wave Runners or Sea-doos. Sailboaters come from across the country for the lake’s predictable winds due to its northeast to southwest orientation. If you like to get right into the water, there are beautiful beaches for swimming and all the water gear you could possibly want: water skis (and instructions if needed), wakeboards, paddle boards, Chill Raft floating pads and towables of all kinds.
The big bash at the lake is the annual Pelican Festival held in September to celebrate the beautiful sight of the return of the migrating pelicans with a parade, live music, carnival games and rides, pelican viewing tours, arts and crafts booths, and even a murder mystery dinner.
The land surrounding the lake is divided into six state parks:
About Grand Lake
The idea to construct a dam on the Grand River originated with Henry C. Holderman of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma in the late 19th century. He and his colleagues built a houseboat and conducted the first survey of the river. But it wasn’t until 1935 that the Army Core of Engineers conducted a feasibility study, resulting in the creation of the Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA). Construction of the Pensacola Dam began in 1938 as part of the Works Progress Administration, a Depression-relief program to put men back to work. Three thousand men were employed at the dam for $16 a week. The labor was cheap, but the materials were scarce and expensive, which is why it was built in a multiple-arch design. Today it is the longest multiple arch dam in the world with 51 arches and 21 spillways across the Grand River. The dam impounds the 66-mile-long Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees, one of the largest reservoirs in the U.S. with a storage volume of 1,515,416 acre-feet.
The dam was completed in March 1940, but the federal government soon appropriated it to divert power for the war effort. Control was returned to the GRDA in August 1946.