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11 Fantastic Lakes for Recreation near Lawton, OK

Lawton is surrounded by excellent lakes and reservoirs, some of which sit within the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. The area is known for stunning scenery and activities like fishing, kayaking, boating, swimming, and camping.
itiswild.com Best Lakes near Lawton OK

The selection of lakes around Lawton is large and varied. Many recreational reservoirs surround the city, including the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge lakes that attract anglers, kayakers, and wildlife enthusiasts.

Lake Lawtonka is a popular choice managed by the city and holds state fishing records. It offers swimming, paddling, boating, and camping opportunities as well.

Most of the lakes are less than an hour’s drive away, and many have multiple access points and marinas. 

Learn more about the area and discover what Lawton has to offer!

Lakes near Lawton:

  1. Elmer Thomas Lake
  2. Lake Lawtonka
  3. Lake Ellsworth
  4. Rush Lake
  5. Lake Jed Johnson
  6. Quanah Parker Lake
  7. Lake Louis Burtschi
  8. Waurika Lake
  9. Lake Humphreys
  10. Clear Creek Lake
  11. Tom Steed Reservoir
Lakes near Lawton Oklahoma Comparison Table
Comparison Table

1. Elmer Thomas Lake

Elmer Thomas Lake in Oklahaoma
Source: flickr/CC BY 2.0
  • Website: Elmer Thomas Lake
  • Distance from Lawton: 16 miles (25 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Picnics

Located a little more than 15 miles northwest of downtown Lawton, Elmer Thomas Lake honors Elmer Thomas (1876–1965), a longtime US Senator from Oklahoma. 

The US Fish and Wildlife Service created this lake, which averages between 334 and 360 surface acres, in 1993 from a stream connected with Little Medicine Creek. 

With over nine miles of shoreline, this lake stands out along the hilly, rocky, and prairie landscape surrounding it. 

Most people access this reservoir at Fort Sill’s Lake Elmer Thomas Recreation Area (LETRA), which sits mostly on the lake’s southern shore. 

Open to the public, LETRA provides year-round access with cabins, camping, disc golf, and miniature golf courses, as well as an archery range and other recreational facilities. Paintball activities are also scheduled at LETRA. 

Guests can rent kayaks, canoes, and other watercraft while visiting.

Anglers visiting LETRA and the lake have great locations for shoreline fishing. The two fish found in the lake’s waters most frequently are channel catfish and largemouth bass. 

2. Lake Lawtonka

Lake Lawtonka view from Mt Scott
Source: pexels
  • Website: Lake Lawtonka
  • Distance from Lawton: 15 miles (25 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing, Picnics

A drive fifteen miles northwest of Lawton, Lake Lawtonka is a larger lake sibling one-half mile to the northeast of Elmer Thomas Lake. 

It was created by an impoundment built along Medicine Creek to provide drinking water to the city, Fort Sill, and other communities in the area. 

Located immediately north of Medicine Park, the 2,325 surface acres reservoir is managed by Lawton and offers a day-use area, along with opportunities for camping, fishing, boating, and hunting. 

Multiple access points are provided for visitors, including marinas and a day-use beach on the eastern shore. 

Hikers who want a panoramic view of Lawtonka Lake and Elmer Thomas Lake may climb Mount Scott, located immediately west of Lawtonka and a short distance north of Elmer Thomas.

Those who enjoy fishing will find a lot to enjoy when visiting Lake Lawtonka. Common species include saugeye, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, blue catfish, and channel catfish. 

The state record smallmouth bass, a fish weighing 8 lbs. 7 oz., was caught here in 2012. A 2 lbs. 12.8 oz. spotted sucker was landed by bow & arrow in 2021.

3. Lake Ellsworth

  • Website: Lake Ellsworth
  • Distance from Lawton: 20 miles (25 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing, Picnics

Twenty miles north of Lawton, Lake Ellsworth is another reservoir managed by the city. 

Developed after a dam went into operation along the lake’s southern shore in 1962, this 5,220-acre reservoir is more than double the size of Lake Lawtonka. 

Similar to Lawtonka, Lake Ellsworth was established as a reliable water source for Lawton and other nearby communities. 

East Cache Creek is the primary source of the lake’s water, though other, smaller creeks also drain into the lake, creating shallow areas and sloughs along its 53 miles of shoreline. 

The noticeable size of Lake Ellsworth makes it an ideal location for a variety of water recreation opportunities. 

In addition to fishing, visitors come to this lake to enjoy jet skiing, water skiing, wakeboarding, sailboating, canoeing, kayaking, and swimming. 

A city-managed campground is located at the lake for those who wish to extend their stay. Boat ramps offer convenient lake access.

Anglers who come to Lake Ellsworth enjoy fishing along the embankment and fishing piers, as well as in a vessel. 

Stocked with saugeye, this lake is also home to crappie, sunfish, walleye, white bass, channel and flathead catfish, and largemouth bass. 

4. Rush Lake

Oklahoma - People enjoying the sunrise of Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Rush Lake
  • Distance from Lawton: 21 miles (30 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Hiking, Biking, Picnics

Rush Lake is a little more than 20 miles northwest of downtown, situated in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge

This federal preserve has nearly 60,000 acres of granite mountains, streams, lakes, and mixed grass prairie that offer great wildlife viewing of herds of elk, longhorn, and bison. 

The 51-acre lake occupies a natural lowland within the wildlife refuge, created by a dam constructed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in 1934.

Visitors to the lake and nearby parts of Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge may enjoy a variety of outdoor activities. These include birdwatching, hiking, fishing, kayaking, camping, and wildlife photography. 

Those who bring rod and reel to Rush Lake can try their luck at catching largemouth bass, rock bass, black crappie, green sunfish, redear sunfish, and bluegill.

5. Lake Jed Johnson

Sunny view of Lake Jed Johnson Tower at Oklahoma
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Lake Jed Johnson
  • Distance from Lawton: 21 miles (30 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Hiking, Biking, Picnics

Less than a mile southeast of Rush Lake, Lake Jed Johnson is another fish and wildlife pond created when a dam was constructed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in the late 1930s. 

Named for Jed Joseph Johnson, Sr (1888-1963), an attorney, judge, and member of Congress, this 59-acre reservoir within the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge includes a trail. 

A notable feature along the lakefront is the Jed Johnson Tower, a fire tower built in 1941 by the Civilian Conservation Corps as a lookout location for fires in the prairie. The tower sits along the Jed Johnson Trail, a one-mile round-trip pathway.

Visitors to this section of the wildlife refuge enjoy hiking and running, as well as casting a line for fish. 

Species found within Lake Jed Johnson include rock bass, largemouth bass, spotted bass, black crappie, and bluegill. 

6. Quanah Parker Lake

Sunny view of the Quanah Parker Dam of Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge at Oklahoma
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Quanah Parker Lake
  • Distance from Lawton: 22 miles (30 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Picnics

Twenty-two miles northwest of the city, Quanah Parker Lake is another reservoir found in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. 

Quanah Creek and Crater Creek converge in an area where federal crews built a dam in 1936. This lake has three miles of shoreline and spans 89 surface acres. 

Popular recreation activities at Quanah Parker Lake and the surrounding areas include hiking nature trails, rock climbing, and fishing. 

Guests who wish to stay overnight may secure a site at Doris Campground to enjoy night-sky viewing in an area within a cedar forest. 

Anglers may bring electric-trolling and hand-powered boats into the lake. Canoeing and kayaking are also enjoyable pastimes. 

Fish found within Quanah Parker Lake include channel catfish, largemouth bass, small bass, black crappie, sunfish, and bluegill. 

7. Lake Louis Burtschi

  • Website: Lake Louis Burtschi
  • Distance from Lawton: 37 miles (50 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Camping, Picnics

Located 37 miles northeast of Lawton, Lake Louis Burtschi was created in the 1940s, with improvements to the impoundment on the lake’s east side in 1990. 

This reservoir spans between 160 and 180 acres and is maintained by the Oklahoma Wildlife Department. 

Facilities include two fishing piers, five fishing jetties, two boat ramps, and a picnic area. Tallgrass prairies and some forested areas are near the lake. 

With a maximum depth of 30 feet and an average of five feet, Lake Burtschi was designed to serve as an excellent fishing destination within Grady County. 

Saugeye was recently introduced to a lake already enjoying good populations of crappie, largemouth bass, and catfish. 

Spotted, striped, and smallmouth bass, along with alligator gar and flathead catfish, are also occasionally caught here. 

8. Waurika Lake

Waurika Lake
Source: flickr/CC BY 2.0
  • Website: Waurika Lake
  • Distance from Lawton: 40 miles (50 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Swimming, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing, Picnics, Camping, Hiking

Waurika Lake is a 10,000-acre reservoir 40 miles southeast of Lawton. It’s a popular recreational lake with a wide selection of activities.

Waurika Lake has half a dozen access areas managed by the Corps of Engineers. Most of which provide boat ramps, campgrounds, and picnic shelters. 

For first-time visits, Waurika Lake Marina near Hastings is an ideal choice. It’s a family-friendly place with a designated swimming area, camping, and kayak rentals. 

Thanks to the multiple launching ramps and a large surface area, Waurika Lake is excellent for boating activities. Pontoon cruising, wakeboarding, and tubing are all allowed here.

Also, the shore access is easy and unrestricted, visitors can put in a kayak or canoe almost anywhere they like. 

Unlike many other reservoirs, Waurika Lake isn’t stocked with largemouth. Instead, it’s a striped bass lake. Striped bass grows to larger sizes, and together with blue catfish, these are the two most common species in this lake.

9. Lake Humphreys

Deer at a lake in Oklahoma
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Lake Humphreys
  • Distance from Lawton: 31 miles (40 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Camping, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing, Picnics

Lake Humphreys is 31 miles east of Lawton. One of the lakes in the Duncan area, this reservoir took shape in 1958 after the construction of an earthen dam. 

With a surface area that spans from 840 to 880 surface acres, Lake Humphreys has over 16 miles of shoreline, a campground, three boat ramps, and areas for hiking and picnicking. 

The City of Duncan manages the lake and its recreation facilities. 

Located ten miles northeast of Duncan, Lake Humphreys is a popular place to fish in this part of Oklahoma. Bow fishing is permitted, and wildlife is found in the area. 

Anglers have good opportunities to catch white bass, largemouth bass, saugeye, and catfish. 

10. Clear Creek Lake

A dreary, dramatic, rainy, Autumn day at a lake in Oklahoma 2019
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Clear Creek Lake
  • Distance from Lawton: 37 miles (45 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Camping, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing, Picnics

Thirty-seven miles east of Lawton and less than two miles east of Lake Humphreys, Clear Creek Lake has 11 miles of shoreline and 600 surface acres. 

Similar to nearby Lake Humphreys, Clear Creek Lake is one of the major bodies of water in the Duncan area. Popular activities include swimming, camping, fishing, and hunting. 

Anglers who visit Clear Creek Lake will find plenty of places to cast a line. The reservoir is stocked with crappie, catfish, walleye, and largemouth bass. 

11. Tom Steed Reservoir

Walking path over a bridge beside the Tom Steed Reservoir in southwest Oklahoma
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Tom Steed Reservoir
  • Distance from Lawton: 53 miles (1hr 5min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing, Picnics

A drive of 53 miles northwest of downtown Lawton, the Tom Steed Reservoir covers approximately 6,400 surface acres. 

Created by an impoundment along West Otter Creek, this lake provides water to nearby communities, including Snyder, Frederick, and Altus. 

Located in the foothills of Wichita Mountain, the area near the lake offers miles of excellent mountain biking opportunities, along with hiking trails and opportunities to visit granite boulder fields. 

Great Plains State Park sits alongside part of this reservoir, also known as Tom Steed Lake. 

Visitors to the area can see the remains of the old Gold Bells Mill and Mine, located near the former site of a settlement named Wildman, which has since completely vanished. 

Park visitors can fish along many segments of Tom Steed Reservoir’s 31 miles of shoreline, bring their vessels to launch into the lake and try to catch the catfish, crappie, bass, and other fish within this notable body of water. 

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