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Grand Lake O' the Cherokees stands out as a sapphire jewel tucked into the northeastern Oklahoma landscape. Created in 1940, the reservoir stretches for 46,500 acres and offers explorers more than 1,300 miles of shoreline to investigate. Known for its incredible scenery and wealth of recreation activities, Grand Lake O' the Cherokees is a favorite destination for thousands of annual visitors.
When the Pensacola Dam was completed, impounding the Grand River (sometimes called Neosho River), Grand Lake O' the Cherokees began to fill. In 1947, the Grand River Dam Authority developed its first rules and regulations over the lake's waters, and served to protect the public and the lake. Built for hydropower generation and flood control, the lake helps to control flooding along the Arkansas River watershed. Today, Grand Lake O' the Cherokees is a popular tourist destination.
Fishing is a favorite way to start a visit to Grand Lake O' the Cherokees, and the reservoir is known as one of the best angling lakes in the state. Hosting several bass tournaments each year, this Oklahoma gem boasts a constant stream of tournament catches and record holders, giving anglers plenty to dream about. If you drop a line in, prepare for a catch of mainly largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass, with the occasional black bass, crappie, paddlefish, and spoonbill catfish thrown into the mix. Please keep in mind that an Oklahoma fishing license is required to fish at Grand Lake O' the Cherokees.
While at the lake, you owe it to yourself to get out on the water and take a spin in a boat. Many local marinas rent everything from high-speed motor boats to leisurely canoes and kayaks, so take your pick and prepare for a sunny day on the lake. Since Grand Lake O' the Cherokees is so large, it's best to pick a place to explore, even if in a speed boat. Slowing down to drink in the natural beauty, especially the towering Ozarks in the background, is worth the extra minutes you'll spend.
As your internal temperature goes up, the Grand Lake O' the Cherokees water will look more and more inviting. Don't hesitate, jump in! Cool, refreshing waters await, promising hours of relaxing floating or adrenaline-pumping waterskiing. Dropping anchor for a boat picnic is another lake favorite, and as you watch the birds swoop through the skies and other boats drift by, you'll feel yourself start to unwind. As then tension drains, you'll know that vacation has truly begun.
Five state parks line the shores of Grand Lake O' the Cherokees: Bernice State Park, Cherokee State Park, Disney/Little Blue State Park, Honey Creek State Park, and Twin Bridges State Park. They offer campsites and hiking trails to help you get back to nature. Explore hiking trails that wind through forests, introducing you to the magnificent Ozarks, and give you a front row pass to the best of Oklahoma flora and fauna.
For a little off-water fun, a visit to area wineries promises wonderful food and drink. Go on a wine tasting tour at and stay for a romantic overnight if the urge hits. And if you're a history buff, the Grand Lake O' the Cherokees area offers several museums, including Har-Ber Village, which is home to one of the largest antique museums in the nation.
Grand Lake O' the Cherokees is a beautiful aquatic gem cut into the heart of Oklahoma and the Ozarks. Offering myriad water activities and many more land activities, the lake and its neighboring communities welcome visitors with open arms, beckoning you to come back soon.
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