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Stockton Lake is a popular recreational reservoir covering 24,900 acres on the western edge of the scenic Missouri Ozarks. Though perhaps not as widely known as some of the other lakes in the state, it's a great choice for vacationers and all those who want to have some fun on the water and in the great outdoors. Stockton Lake was constructed from 1963 to 1969, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built Stockton Dam, blocking the Sac River and Little Sac River and creating this beautiful lake. Stockton Lake reached its normal operating elevation of 867 feet above sea level in December of 1971. The lake includes a 298-mile shoreline and crosses three Missouri counties: Cedar, Dade, and Polk.
Stockton Lake was built to provide hydroelectric power and flood control to this area of southwestern Missouri. In 1998 the lake became an additional source of drinking water for the City of Springfield, about 50 miles southeast. It is best known for its wide range of recreational activities: fishing, boating, water sports, swimming, sailing, horseback riding, wildlife viewing, and hunting - to name a few. Anglers flock to Stockton Lake for catches of crappie, black bass, white bass, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, walleye, catfish, and bluegill. The lake is known to be especially good for walleye fishing.
Even if you're not an avid angler, there are many ways to enjoy its expansive waters. Take a relaxing boat ride to explore the lake's numerous coves. If you prefer a faster pace, you can go water skiing, windsurfing, or jet skiing. Scuba diving is also a popular lake activity with visibility up to 25 feet, depending on the time of year. And if you like sailing, you'll love Stockton Lake. Known as one of the best sailing lakes in Missouri, its windy expanse provides great sailing conditions. If you've never tried sailing before, you can book private sailing lessons.
Stockton Lake has a variety of parks and campgrounds, making a visit to the lake both convenient and enjoyable. Stockton State Park is located on the peninsula that separates the two arms of the lake. This 2,176-acre park includes a campground, cabins, restaurant, and marina. The park also contains other amenities such as boat launches and a swimming beach. In addition to the State Park, there are 14 other recreation areas around the lake; 12 are managed by the Corps of Engineers, and the other two are managed by full-service marinas. The Corp of Engineers and marinas also provide camping facilities. Most campgrounds have lantern hanging posts, picnic tables, fire rings, shower buildings, and dump stations. Three marinas are the only commercial development on the lake.
The Stockton Lake area also offers many off-water activities. The Equestrian Trail, 15 miles long, provides a great place for horseback riding. Hiking, golfing, and hunting are also popular. All public lands are open to hunting, except the parks and waterfowl refuge, which is managed by the Missouri Department of Conservation. Hunters can find quail, dove, rabbit, turkey, deer, ducks and geese.
Stockton Lake and nearby towns host some interesting yearly events. The Stockton Yacht Club hosts a variety of sailing races. Other unique and fun events in the area include a bluegrass festival and the Black Walnut Festival. Birders and wildlife lovers will enjoy the Eagles Day event in January - with a great chance to spot the fascinating and majestic bald eagle.
At Stockton Lake, the opportunities for having fun are endless. If you enjoy fishing, camping, sailing, water skiing, or scuba diving, you're sure to make great memories at Stockton Lake.
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