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Your guide to Grand Lake O' the Cherokees
Welcome to Grand Lake o' the Cherokees
Flanked by a dozen small towns in the northeast corner of Oklahoma, Grand Lake o’ the Cherokees, a reservoir on the Grand River, is one of the state’s largest lakes, making it a paradise for water-sports enthusiasts of all kinds. It’s also conveniently perched in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains at the crossroads of Kansas, Missouri, and Arkansas, a convenient stop for road trippers exploring the area. Part of the Big Three group of lakes in Oklahoma, which also comprises Lake Eufaula and Lake Tenkiller, Grand Lake was created during the big national push for hydroelectric power that materialized in the 1930s and ’40s.
The five park areas that wrap around the lake are great launching points for parasailing and other motorboat activities. The shores are peppered with rental companies that specialize in chartered yachts as well as smaller people-powered water vessels such as kayaks and paddleboards. For the traveler who prefers the indoors to out, the charming town of Miami, due north of Grand Lake, houses more than a dozen casinos in the greater vicinity.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in Grand Lake O' the Cherokees
Late spring and fall are pleasant times to visit Oklahoma, when you can take advantage of Grand Lake’s many water-based activities without the crowds; it’s often warm enough to go out onto the lake through early November. If you’re wanting to cool off, however, the humid months of July and August are the perfect time to take a dip — just know that you’ll be competing with plenty of other visitors looking to do the same. The lake is open for activities like fishing year round, though some services and equipment rentals may only be offered seasonally in the warmer months.
Top things to do in Grand Lake O' the Cherokees
Along the Grand River, serpentine Grand Lake spans 1,300 miles of shoreline and 46,500 surface acres, making it one of the biggest lake recreation areas in Oklahoma. You can book a parasailing excursion or rent a yacht or other watercraft through one of the lake’s many marinas.
Anchored by the GRDA Ecosystems & Education Center, Pensacola Dam offers tours from Memorial Day through Labor Day of the dramatic, arched, Art Deco-inspired, 5,000-foot-wide superstructure that has created the lake since 1938.
Grand Lake State Park
Grand Lake State Park is adjacent to the bottom of the Pensacola Dam, the perfect spot for birders to watch for the migrating waterfowl and bald eagles that feed in the rich waters flowing from the reservoir. Anglers, too, will want to cast a line in the so-called crappie capital of the world, whose park also boasts fishing for largemouth bass, sunfish, white bass, channel catfish, and bluegill.