Grand, Oologah lakes just short trips off 66

06/19/2020 08:30 AM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
A crowd gathers on Grand Lake for AquaPalooza, the largest on-the-water concert and raft-up on Grand Lake held annually. This year the event is set for July 18 and is accessible by land or by Grand Lake. AQUAPALOOZA
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Water enthusiasts enjoy paddle boarding on Oologah Lake. The lake sits northwest of Route 66 in northeast Oklahoma. REDBUD MARINA
Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees is on the Grand (Neosho) River in northeastern Oklahoma, southeast of Route 66.

It offers five state parks around scenic shoreline, as well marinas, restaurants, motels and fishing guides. Native fish species found in Grand Lake include largemouth bass, white bass, channel catfish, crappie and bluegill.

If you’re looking for natural beauty, bass fishing, water sports and picnic and playground areas, as well as camping, look no further than Cherokee Area at Grand Lake State Park. It’s two blocks east of Disney on SH 28, between the Grand River Pensacola Dam’s floodgates.

There are more than 59,000 surface acres and 1,300 miles of shoreline on the lake.

Grand Lake State Park actually consists of smaller parks located near the dam and around the lake. There are picnic sites, group shelters, campsites, playgrounds, comfort stations, a lighted boat ramp and a nine-hole golf course. There are also options for RV sites and resorts if you’re looking to go camping as well as marinas and boat rentals for water sport needs.

For those who enjoy history, The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture lists Henry Holderman, a Cherokee Nation citizen, as selecting Grand River for a hydroelectric power source to supply the CN before Oklahoma statehood in 1907. However, construction began on the dam in 1938, and finished in 1940. The dam formed a lake behind it, prompting the U.S. government to take control of it for electricity until after World War II.


According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Oologah Lake, located northwest of Route 66, offers recreational opportunities for boaters and non-boaters.

Water lovers can enjoy skiing, sailing, canoeing, swimming, sunning or relaxing. Fourteen boat launching ramps are around the lake, and two designated swimming beaches have been developed in Hawthorn Bluff and Spencer Creek. The marina in Redbud Bay offers a full range of services and supplies.

Boating on the lake is in accordance with Oklahoma boating laws and Corps of Engineers’ regulations. So whether you’re fishing, cruising, sailing or swimming, make water safety part of your plans.

Sportsmen will enjoy the opportunity to capture fish and game. Lands open to hunting include 6,540 acres managed by the Corps and 12,940 acres managed by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. Hunting maps are available at the Lake Office. Available game includes deer, turkey, swamp and cottontail rabbit, quail, squirrel, duck, goose and dove.

The lake is stocked fish such as sand bass, catfish, hybrid striped bass, crappie and walleye. The Corps also works with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation to assure a balance of fish populations.

Whether roughing it in a tent or communing with nature from a fully equipped recreational vehicle, you’ll find campgrounds and facilities for your needs. Eleven parks are provided that include showers, overnight camping pads, electric hookups, playgrounds, fresh water, picnic tables, group shelters and grills. 

Oologah Lake also has the Will Rogers Country Centennial Trail. Located on the east side of the lake, it winds around the lakeshore from the Spillway to Blue Creek Park for 18 miles. Horseback riding and hiking are allowed. The Skull Hollow Nature Trail in Hawthorn Bluff offers three routes, the longest being 1.3 miles.


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