The Grandness of Grand Lake O' The Cherokees

Pensacola Dam between Disney, and Langley, Oklahoma, is the world’s largest multiple-arched dam and responsible for Grand Lake. This dam boasts 51 arches that span almost a mile at 5,145-feet-long and supports a walkway and State Highway 28, a narrow two-lane highway. Cherokee tribal member, Henry Holderman, even before 1907 statehood, began advocating for the Grand Dam River Authority (GDRA) to businessmen and politicians. 

Where is Grand Lake in Oklahoma?

The name of Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees evokes romanticism. Grand Lake lies over the Neosho River in Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma, in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains. It is a beautiful clear lake in the far northeastern corner of Oklahoma. Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees, or Grand Lake, occupies the southern area with a wide swath of the Neosho River on the north. 

An amazing feet of engineering emerged from 1938 to 1940 as the Pensacola Dam. Holderman saw the GDRA as the source for hydroelectric power for the Cherokee Nation. Craig, Delaware, Mayes, and Ottawa, Counties, border Grand Lake and its serene landscapes. In 1938, the rural U.S. did not have an electrical infrastructure. Tours of the historic dam are held regularly between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Holderman’s vision culminated in three hydroelectric facilities and two coal-fired complexes that had the capacity of generating 1,480 megawatts of electricity and served twenty-four counties. The dam’s hydroelectric system has been updated over the years. In 2012, GRDA partnered with Canadian Hills Wind Power Project of Western Oklahoma to acquire and distribute wind-generated electricity and now serves seventy-five of the Oklahoma's seventy-seven counties.

What Is Grand Lake Oklahoma Known For?

Visitors can cruise the lake on an authentic paddlewheel riverboat, go horseback riding and take hay rides, attend live outdoor amphitheater productions, visit an internationally known Japanese garden, the Satsuki Garden in Grove, visit Har-ber Village, a historic antique museum featuring over one hundred reconstructed turn-of-the-century cabins and village shops, and play high-stakes electronic bingo and off track betting.

Grand Lake is best known for fishing, clear deep water, and beautiful scenery. Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees is known as the crown jewel of the Northeastern Oklahoma. It is home to numerous species of migratory waterfowl. In 1994, the GRDA used a crop duster to sow 10,000 seeds of Japanese millet to attract waterfowl to Grand Lake’s shores.

What Towns Surround Grand Lake Oklahoma?

Nature surrounds Grand Lake with little development and the lake covers 46,500 acres and offers 1,300-miles of shoreline. Several tiny towns dot the shores of Grand Lake and its upper Neosho River region, plus small communities pop up here and there. There are several Grand Lake State Parks that offer public boat ramps, restrooms, and camping facilities.

Clockwise from the northern border of Grand Lake, the towns near it are Dennis, Zena, and Disney on the eastern side, and Disney, Langley, Ketchum, and Cleora on the western side. Up the Neosho River clockwise from the southwestern border, lie Bernice, Copeland, and Grove. 

There is some confusion about Disney, Oklahoma, on the north side of the Pensacola Dam. the town of Disney, Oklahoma, has no affiliation with The Walt Disney Company or Walt Disney. Former Oklahoma U.S. Congressman Wesley E. Disney gave the town and the Disney Area Grand Lake State Park its name. 

However, at the time of this writing, developers are planning the American Heartland Theme Park and Resort on Route 66 (I-44 and U.S. 60) just a few miles west of Grand Lake, Oklahoma, and the park will not be in Disney, Oklahoma. 

Can You Swim in Grand Lake Oklahoma?

Visitors can do all of the lake activities on Grand Lake, like boating of all kinds, camping, fishing, hiking, parasailing, and sailing, plus visit some wonderful local attractions. Sandy beaches surrounded by forests on low rolling hills greet Grand Lake visitors. 

Yes, you can swim in and all over Grand Lake, Oklahoma. There are lots of swim beaches on Grand Lake for safe and fun swimming.

How Cold Is the Water at Grand Lake?

Grand Lake is filled with cool water because it lies in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains. Maximum, minimum, and average temperatures at Grand Lake stay within a 4° range. The air temperatures range from highs in the mid-40s in January to the mid-90s in August. The lows range from the high-20s in January to the high-60s in August, which also has an effect on Grand Lake’s water temperature.

From the hottest month of August to the coldest month of January in the Grand Lake region, the average water temperature hangs in the 50s from 52° to 57°, but can reach a maximum high of 66° to a minimum low of 45°.

What is Grand Lake Close To?

Grand Lake is nestled into foothills of the western side of the Ozark Mountain range, mostly undeveloped, and extremely rural with abundant wildlife. Besides the few towns mentioned above, state parks, natural areas, marinas, and boat ramps surround Grand Lake. 

Grand Lake is 60 miles northeast of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and 45 miles from Bentonville, Arkansas. Any other major cities are miles and miles away. The Arkansas, Kansas, and Missouri state lines are just a stone’s throw away. 

Does Grand Lake Have a Town?

Yes, Grand Lake Towne is a small town located on the northwestern shores of Grand Lake’s southernmost end.

What Is the Prettiest Oklahoma Lake?

Eastern Oklahoma can boast with some of the prettiest lakes in the U.S. with lush trees and vegetation, mountains and hills, and opulent clear waters. Hills and mountains encompass the Eastern Oklahoma lakes, offering many of the outdoor activities one can imagine. 

Broken Bow Lake in McCurtain County and Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees presumably could tie for the title of the “Prettiest Lake” in Oklahoma. 

What Is the Cleanest Oklahoma Lake?

The Arbuckle Mountain range in southern Oklahoma spanning I-35 gave birth to some of the clearest and cleanest water bodies in the southwestern U.S. The Washita River feeds Arbuckle Mountain range brooks, lakes, pools of water, rivers, and streams, and cuts through the center of the Arbuckle Mountains. Over many millennia, the Washita River cut out a canyon that is 350-feet deep in some areas.

Lake Murray in southern Oklahoma straddles Carter and Love Counties. Its waters are crystal clear with a maximum depth of 190 feet. Lake Murray is considered the cleanest lake in Oklahoma and sits at the southeastern edge of the Arbuckle Mountains. 

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