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12 Best Recreational Lakes near Tulsa, OK

Tulsa is surrounded by incredible recreational lakes and reservoirs, most of which are within an hour's drive and offer a wide selection of activities, from swimming and fishing to jet skiing and wakeboarding.
ItIsWild.com: Best Lakes near Tulsa, OK

When it comes to recreational lakes, Tulsa is fantastic! In fact, many cities would be jealous of such a wide selection.

Most of the options are about an hour away and often less, giving you plenty of choice for day trips, although many have campgrounds for extended stays, too.

Whether you’re into big bass fishing, blasting down on jet skis, or simply want to chill on a beach, there are plenty of options for you.

Check out what Tulsa has to offer!

Lakes near Tulsa:

  1. Keystone Lake
  2. Skiatook Lake
  3. Oologah Lake
  4. Fort Gibson Lake
  5. Lake Hudson
  6. Grand Lake
  7. Birch Lake
  8. Claremore Lake
  9. Tenkiller Ferry Lake
  10. Greenleaf Lake
  11. Webbers Falls Lake
  12. Lake Eufaula
Lakes near Tulsa in Oklahoma Comparison Table
Comparison Table

1. Keystone Lake

Keystone Lake in Oklahoma
Source: flickr/CC BY 2.0
  • Website: Keystone Lake
  • Distance from Tulsa: 17 miles (20 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Hiking, Biking, Camping, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing, Sailing

Keystone Lake is Tulsa’s nearest full-on recreational lake and a fishing world record holder. At 26,000 acres, it’s also one of the largest reservoirs in the area, with no limits on water activities.

The Corps of Engineers manages several recreational areas around the lake with boat ramps, campgrounds, and marinas. Yet, the best place to start your visit is probably Keystone State Park by the dam. 

Like many state parks, this one is a one-stop shop for all your recreational needs. From fishing and swimming to boat rentals and MTB trails, anything is possible here. 

And despite its proximity to the city, it’s an excellent spot for camping and family weekends, thanks to a selection of cabins and modern campgrounds.

Oklahoma’s recent fishing record (June 2021) was for the monstrous 164-pound paddlefish caught at Keystone Lake, which is also a world record. 

This reservoir has always been considered an excellent fishery. The action is great, and the sizes are incredible. 10-pound largemouth bass and 20-pound striped bass are common here.

But even if you’re not an angler, there is plenty to do at Keystone Lake. And considering it’s only 20 minutes away, it must be Tulsa’s best water playground.

2. Skiatook Lake

Skiatook Lake
Source: flickr/CC BY 2.0
  • Website: Skiatook Lake
  • Distance from Tulsa: 18 miles (25 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Hiking, Biking, Camping, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing

Skiatook Lake is a 10,190-acre reservoir just 25 minutes from Tulsa. It’s one of the clearest lakes in the region and one of the most popular recreational spots near the city.

Although not as large as Keystone Lake, Skiatook has a wide variety of recreational areas managed by the Corps of Engineers, from boat landings and day-use parks to beaches and campgrounds.

The nearest spot is the Tall Chief Cove Recreation Area on the southeastern shore. It’s known for its wide sandy beach and a campground with electric hookups and shading trees.

On the water, you can go kayaking, waterskiing, wakeboarding, and tubing. Some parts of the lake have standing timber, so extra care is required.

The sections with standing timber are the best fishing spots on the lake. This is where boats can’t get to, making kayak fishing a blast. 

Skiatook Lake is a fantastic bass lake offering largemouth, smallmouth, white, striped, and spotted varieties. Plus, there is plenty of white crappie, walleye, and catfish, too.

This popular reservoir has a lot going for it, and the only drawback here is crowds on summer weekends. But apart from that, it’s a terrific spot for all types of adventures.

3. Oologah Lake

Oologah Lake
Source: flickr/public domain
  • Website: Oologah Lake
  • Distance from Tulsa: 34 miles (35 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Hiking, Biking, Camping, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing, Sailing

At 29,460 acres, Oologah Lake is the second-largest near Tulsa (after Grand Lake). It’s known for excellent sailing, catfish fishing, and being the birthplace of Will Rogers

Like many lakes in the region, this reservoir is managed by the Corps of Engineers, which provides over a dozen of access areas

If traveling from Tulsa, the nearest spot is Hawthorn Bluff, just north of the dam. It’s a highly-rated place with a designated swimming beach, boat ramps, and a campground. 

Alternatively, Redbud Marina on the opposite side of the dam is the best place to rent boats, kayaks, and paddleboards. Also, this is where the sailing school and the lake’s sailing fleet are based.

Although ODWC stocks the reservoir with hybrid striped bass and walleye, the lake is known for catfish and white crappie. If you enjoy catching bucketfuls of crappie, this is an excellent spot, but for bass fishing, Skiatook Lake is a much better option.

In a nutshell, this is another fantastic option for water recreation near the city. It’s especially great for sailing but will suit all types of visitors.

4. Fort Gibson Lake

Fort Gibson Lake
Source: unsplash
  • Website: Fort Gibson Lake
  • Distance from Tulsa: 47 miles (50 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Hiking, Biking, Camping, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing

Fort Gibson Lake is a 19,900-acre reservoir east of Tulsa. It’s a highly-rated destination and home to the most developed state park in Oklahoma.

With a 225-mile shoreline, this reservoir boasts 30 recreational areas and access points, most of which are managed by the Corps of Engineers.

Blue Bill Point is the locals’ favorite camping spot. Taylor’s Ferry has a fantastic beach and is easily accessible from Route 51. 

Sequoyah State Park on the eastern shore has the biggest lodge in the state park system, complete with a swimming pool. Also, there is a golf course and horse rentals, in addition to all the land and water-based activities.

When it comes to activities, Fort Gibson Lake has hardly any restrictions. From swimming to wakeboarding, everything is possible here. However, this reservoir is known for fluctuating water levels and shallow areas, so extra care is required.

The lake scores excellent fishing reviews as anglers rarely return home empty-handed. It has a wide variety of fish, including largemouth and white bass, and plenty of catfish. What’s more, if catching paddlefish is on your bucket list, this is probably the best lake in the state.

Fort Gibson Lake is designed for recreation. Although not the nearest, it’s certainly one of the most visitor-friendly lakes around Tulsa. It’s well worth the drive.

5. Lake Hudson

lake in oklahoma in summer time
Source: depositphotos
  • Website: Lake Hudson
  • Distance from Tulsa: 57 miles (1 h)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Camping

Lake Hudson is a 12,000-acre reservoir near Salina, east of Tulsa. It’s not as developed as Fort Gibson Lake or Grand Lake above the stream, making it a less crowded and adventurous destination.

Several boat ramps and a handful of parks provide access to this reservoir. 

It’s known for shallow water, and there is a designated channel for navigation that follows the length of the reservoir. Check out this map for boat ramps and depths. Shallow conditions is great news to paddlers and anglers, as there are fewer boats racing on this lake. 

Talking about fishing, Lake Hudson is frequently described as the #1 bass lake in the state. It’s stocked with hybrid bass and is home to a healthy largemouth population. 5-pound+ bass is common here.

If you’re into kayaking and fishing and like to keep away from crowds, this is an excellent option. Yet, for family fun with beaches, camping, and trails, there are better options on the list.

6. Grand Lake

Lake in Oklahoma during sunset
Source: depositphotos
  • Website: Grand Lake
  • Distance from Tulsa: 67 miles (1h 10min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Hiking, Biking, Camping, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing, Sailing

At 41,780 surface acres, Grand Lake o’ the Cherokees is the fourth largest lake in Oklahoma. It’s a busy reservoir with tons of activities and the best alternative to Keystone Lake or Fort Gibson Lake.

The Grand Lake’s shores are well-developed with resorts, marinas, parks, and cabins, giving you plenty of recreational choices – from primitive parks to honeymoon lodging.

Yet, the best way to enjoy the lake is to visit one of several recreational areas run by Grand Lake State Park. The nearest option is Cherokee Area by the dam. It has access to both the lake and the tailwater and provides campgrounds, boat ramps, a beach, and more. 

When it comes to activities, everything is possible at Grand Lake. Swimming, kayaking, wakeboarding, and pulling tubes are all great fun here.

And despite the lack of state records, fishing at this reservoir is highly-rated, too. The selection of species is incredible, and the sizes rarely disappoint. However, like all vast reservoirs, this one requires time and patience to learn its patterns and fishing spots. 

Overall, it’s a fun and versatile lake, and with all the camping and lodging options, the long drive is definitely worth it.

7. Birch Lake

Waterskiing on a lake
Source: depositphotos
  • Website: Birch Lake
  • Distance from Tulsa: 42 miles (50 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Camping, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing

At 1,137 acres, Birch Lake is one of the smallest on the list. It’s located just south of Barnsdall and offers excellent beaches and campgrounds.

The lake is managed by the Corps of Engineers, which provides two main recreational areas – Twin Coves Point and Birch Cove. The latter is the nearest one, but both have designated swimming areas and large campgrounds with hookups.

Due to its size, the boat traffic on Birch Lake is modest. Depending on the water requirements, it can be rather shallow, too, but folks who know the reservoir well wakeboard and waterski here.

Because of the small size and low traffic, Birch Lake is excellent kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding spot. It doesn’t feel like you’re in the middle of the ocean, and it has cozy coves to hide from the wind.

Fishing here is excellent, too. The shore access is great, and there are reports of 4-pound+ largemouth bass – pretty good for a lake of this size.

Birch Lake packs a lot of fun and has fantastic reviews. It’s especially great for family camping trips.

8. Claremore Lake

Claremore Lake in Oklahoma
Source: wikimedia/public domain
  • Website: Claremore Lake
  • Distance from Tulsa: 33 miles (35 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Picnics, Biking, Hiking

Claremore Lake is 470 acres in size, making it the smallest lake on the list. It’s not as versatile as most reservoirs around, but it has its charm, and it’s an excellent option for day trips.

Claremore Lake Park provides access to the lake and offers playgrounds, picnic shelters, a boat ramp, and miles of hiking trails. 

Swimming or wading are prohibited at Claremore Lake, but there is a seasonal splash pad for kids and plenty of tree shade for escaping the summer heat.

On the water, you can go boating, fishing, and kayaking, provided that your kayak is over 8ft long. Shore access is pretty good here, and there is a heated fishing dock for colder months. The reservoir has a healthy colony of largemouth bass, but you won’t set a new personal best.

Where Claremore Lake stands out from the rest is the network of trails for hiking and mountain biking. If you like to combine lakeside views with such activities, you’d love it here.

9. Tenkiller Ferry Lake

tenkiller lake
Source: flickr/CC BY 2.0
  • Website: Tenkiller Ferry Lake
  • Distance from Tulsa: 81 miles (1h 25min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing, Scuba Diving

Tenkiller Ferry Lake is a 12,900-acre reservoir in the Cookson Hills area of Ozarks. It’s one of the most popular recreational reservoirs in the state, with clear water, gorgeous views, and limitless fun.

Over 35 access areas surround this incredible destination. From boat landings to beaches and marinas, there is no shortage of access. The choice will depend on your comfort preferences and the size of your wallet.

Still, if visiting for the first time, consider starting from one of the state parks. Cherokee Landing on the north end or Tenkiller on the south are both excellent options, and all-in-one stops for lake explorers.

Towering bluffs and magnificent scenery make this lake truly special. But it’s not just the views here. Lake Tenkiller is a water playground like no other, with every activity imaginable, including scuba diving and cliff jumping (not recommended).

In a nutshell, it’s a bucket list destination, and Tulsa locals are lucky to live just 80 miles from this spot.

10. Greenleaf Lake

  • Website: Greenleaf Lake
  • Distance from Tulsa: 67 miles (1h 5min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking

Greenleaf Lake is a 920-acre reservoir wedged between Webbers Falls Lake and Tenkiller Lake. It’s frequently overlooked by lakegoers, yet, it’s an excellent fishing and kayaking spot.

The only way to access the reservoir is through the Greenleaf State Park, located just off Route 10. The park has cabins, swimming areas, a boat ramp, and kayak rentals. Plus, there are over 20 miles of hiking trails, but most require offline navigation as markings are scarce and the signal is practically non-existent.

The unique thing about Greenleaf Lake is that watersports like waterskiing and wakeboarding aren’t allowed, and you can’t use a jet ski here either, making it a tranquil lake ideal for anglers and kayakers.

Talking about fishing, the reservoir scores top reviews. It’s a premium bass lake with lots of vegetation that sustains a healthy colony. There are reports of 5+ pound largemouths taken from here. Also, you can expect white crappie, channel catfish, bluegill, drum, and more.

For anglers and paddlers who want to unwind away from the hustle and bustle of bigger lakes, this is an excellent spot, but for swimming or boating, there are better options on the list.

11. Webbers Falls Lake

Webbers Falls Lake
Source: wikimedia/public domain
  • Website: Webbers Falls Lake
  • Distance from Tulsa: 65 miles (1h 10min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing

Webbers Falls Lake is an 11,600-acre impoundment of the Arkansas River southeast of Tulsa. It’s not as popular as most reservoirs on the list, making it an ideal option for quiet escapes.

The Corps of Engineers manages six recreational areas. The two biggest ones are Spaniard Creek and Brewer Bend. The former is the nearest to Tulsa and can be easily accessed from Route 351. Yet, both areas have boat ramps, campgrounds with hookups, and showers.

When it comes to activities, there are no restrictions at Webbers Falls Lake. From swimming and fishing to paddling and jet skiing, it’s all possible. 

However, fishing is probably the most popular activity at the reservoir, although it’s not highly rated. You can catch some white bass, but it’s more about catfish and paddlefish here. 

If you’d like quiet lakeside camping and don’t mind somewhat outdated facilities, Webbers Falls Lake is a great location.

12. Lake Eufaula

Lake Eufaula
Source: wikimedia/public domain
  • Website: Lake Eufaula
  • Distance from Tulsa: 76 miles (1h 15min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Horseback Riding, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing

Naturally, a list of Tulsa’s lakes won’t be complete without Oklahoma’s largest reservoir – Lake Eufaula. At 102,000 acres and with 610 miles of shoreline, it offers unlimited recreational opportunities and facilities.

With over 65 access areas, including marinas, campgrounds, and parks, you are spoiled for choice. If visiting for the first time, the best place to start is Lake Eufaula State Park – an all-in-one stop for lakegoers. Also, there is an Arrowhead State Park, but the former is closer to Tulsa. 

As you may expect, there is no shortage of activities at this reservoir, and both state parks offer campgrounds, beaches, rentals, and boat ramps.

What’s more, this reservoir is known for trophy bass fishing and is home to dozens of fishing tournaments. ODWC frequently stocks the lake with largemouth bass and provides fish attractors to aid anglers. As of 2022, Lake Eufaula’s largemouth bass record is 11.9 pounds.

As a bucket list destination, this is one of the top choices when it comes to lakes near Tulsa. It can accommodate all types of lakegoers, from seasoned anglers and families to speedboat daredevils and couples on romantic retreats.

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