Arbuckle Lake, Oklahoma, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Southwest - Oklahoma - Arbuckle Country -

Also known as:  Lake of the Arbuckles, Lake Arbuckles, Lake Arbuckle, Arbuckle Reservoir

Oklahoma’s Chickasaw National Recreation Area draws over three and a half million visitors a year and their main attraction is Lake of the Arbuckles. Located in southcentral Oklahoma, Arbuckle Lake is part of the scenic Arbuckle Country Tourism Region. Those driving Interstate 35 will find this wonderful getaway less than a three-hour drive north of Dallas-Fort Worth or south of Oklahoma City.

Murray County is home to beautiful Arbuckle Lake and the impressive geologic features found in the Arbuckle Mountains, some of the oldest mountains in the United States. With elevations running from 700 to 1,400 feet, the roads cutting through the mountainsides display the results of the earth’s violent mountain-building process. The forces of nature will impress you as you drive past mile after mile of undulating layers of rock.

The Arbuckles were originally part of the Chickasaw Nation. The Chickasaw people traveled to Oklahoma along the “Trail of Tears” when they were forced from their native Tennessee and Mississippi lands. The first white settlers were drawn to Oklahoma under the Homestead Act of 1862. By 1889 Oklahoma was opened to white settlers, forcing the Chickasaw to move once again. The rugged Arbuckles and poor soil did not support large farms so the cattle business dominated southern Oklahoma’s economy for decades. Since the 1930s, various plans have been presented to create a reservoir in the Washita River Basin. The Arbuckle Project, and Arbuckle Reservoir, were finally authorized in 1962. Lake Arbuckles was completed in 1966 and the aqueduct and community water systems were completed in 1967.

Located at the north end of the Arbuckle Mountains, Arbuckle Reservoir is created by Arbuckle Dam, located on a tributary of the Washita River: Rock Creek. One hundred, fifty feet and 1,890 feet long, the dam was built by the Bureau of Reclamation and is managed by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers. Arbuckle Reservoir was created to provide water for the Arbuckle Project. The project provisions were to: (1) construct the dam and its reservoir, and create recreational facilities, (2) develop lands for wildlife management, (3) provide municipal and industrial water supplies to the nearby communities of Sulphur, Davis, Dougherty, Ardmore, and Wynnewood plus an oil refinery and Ardmore Industrial Air Park. As the Arbuckle Project was not designed to supply irrigation needs, water levels remain fairly stable during summer months.

Chickasaw National Recreation Area was created in 1976. Originally named Sulphur Springs Reservation in 1902, the historic mineral springs along Rock and Travertine Creeks became Platt National Park in 1906. Additional lands were added to the park to create today’s recreation area covering approximately 3,400 acres. The Platt Historic District remains at the northern end of the park. Found within the historic district are multiple mineral springs, a bison pasture, and Travertine Nature Center. This educational center provides exhibits that explain the unique forest/prairie ecosystem, springs, and wildlife that exist around Lake Arbuckles.

While Lake Arbuckle does not provide a back country experience, numerous hiking trails within the park provide excellent opportunities to enjoy nature, wildlife, and the tranquility of the countryside. Choose the length and difficulty of your walk as you stroll along the banks of Lake Arbuckle, pause to enjoy the clear water of Little Niagra Falls, or view grazing bison in the bison pasture.

Numerous campgrounds surround Arbuckle Lake’s 36-mile shoreline. Amenities include picnic tables, fire rings, boat ramps, potable water, and pit toilets. Some campgrounds include showers, dump stations, swimming areas and direct access to hiking trails.

Lake of the Arbuckles is the park’s center attraction. Powerboats, sailing, canoeing, water skiing, tubing, wake boarding, swimming, and even scuba diving are among the activities found on Arbuckle Lake. Boat ramps and docks can be found at both ends of the reservoir. Boating permits are required and available for annual or day use.

Arbuckle Lake is known for its year-round fishing. An Oklahoma fishing license is required if you want to cast a line for catfish, largemouth bass, crappie, white bass, bluegill or sunfish. Websites have noted that Arbuckle Lake’s quiet protective coves are good for trotlines. Within the park, and only yards north of Lake Arbuckle, lies Veterans Lake. This 67-acre lake also has great fishing. A state record-winning black bass hybrid weighing eight pounds, five ounces was caught on Veterans Lake in 2006. This is a no-wake lake making it an excellent place for canoeing and kayaking the three-mile shoreline. A boat ramp, boat dock, wheel-chair accessible fishing dock, picnic area, restrooms, and shelters are available around Veterans Lake.

The wildlife area that surrounds Arbuckle Lake provides habitat for quail, turkey, squirrel, rabbit, dove, ducks, geese and deer. Hunting is allowed within specified park zones during hunting season.

While you are enjoying your stay at Lake Arbuckle, don’t miss the opportunity to visit Turner Falls Park. Located 10 miles west of Arbuckle Lake, clear mountain springs provide water for Oklahoma’s tallest waterfall. The 77-foot waterfall ends in a beautiful pool of water perfect for summertime swimming and family picnics.

Those driving from Dallas-Ft. Worth may enjoy a stop at Lake Texoma. Located thirty-five miles southeast of Arbuckle Lake, Lake Texoma is an impoundment of the Red River on the Oklahoma-Texas border. This 74,686-acre lake is one of the largest lake in the United States and a fisherman’s paradise. Species found in Lake Texoma include blue and channel catfish, white and striped bass, largemouth bass, spotted bass, smallmouth bass, black and white crappie and bluegill.

For additional lakeside fun, Lake Murray State Park can be found 40 miles south of Arbuckle Lake. Lake Murray’s 5,782 acres provide access to fishing, boating and water sports of all kinds. Park sport facilities include courses for golf, miniature golf and frisbee golf, tennis courts, softball fields, a baseball diamond, horseshoe pits, badminton, and volleyball nets. Even motorcycle, dirt bike and ATV riders enjoy their own riding area.

With so much to see and do, it is not surprising that Arbuckle Lake is a popular vacation destination. Residential developments have grown along the northwestern boundary of the Chickasaw National Recreation Area. This boundary area is only yards away from Arbuckle Lake, giving vacation homes and real estate properties beautiful views of the lake and the Arbuckle Mountains. Additional properties may be found in and around the community of Sulphur. Serving as a northern gateway to the park, Sulphur’s local businesses cater to the needs of park and Arbuckle Mountains visitors. Convenient to major metropolitan areas, the Arbuckles’ sunny climate, sporting opportunities and country lifestyle make Lake of the Arbuckles more than a destination. Find your home on Arbuckle Lake and reside where the natural beauty of the Arbuckle Mountains merges with your gentle lakefront terrain.

Things to do at Arbuckle Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Tubing
  • Scuba Diving
  • Golf
  • Tennis
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Hunting
  • Waterfall
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • National Park
  • Miniature Golf

Fish species found at Arbuckle Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Spotted Bass
  • Striped Bass
  • Sunfish
  • White Bass
  • White Crappie

Arbuckle Lake Photo Gallery

Arbuckle Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: U. S. Army Corps of Engineers

Surface Area: 2,346 acres

Shoreline Length: 36 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 872 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 827 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 885 feet

Water Volume: 72,400 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1966

Lake Area-Population: 4,800

Drainage Area: 126 sq. miles

Trophic State: Mesotrophic

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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