Broken Bow Lake, Oklahoma, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Southwest - Oklahoma - Kiamichi Country -

Also known as:  Broken Bow Reservoir

Broken Bow Lake is nestled in the Ouachita Mountains of McCurtain County in southeastern Oklahoma. Covering more than 14,200 acres with 180 miles of shoreline, 22-mile long Broken Bow Lake is considered one of the most beautiful lakes in the southern United States. The area is referred to as Oklahoma’s “Little Smokies” due to the densely forested mountainous terrain.

The Broken Bow Lake area is rich in Native American history. The area, now McCurtain County, became part of the Choctaw Indian Nation in 1820 after a treaty was signed by the Federal Government and the Choctaw tribe. McCurtain County was named after a prominent Choctaw Indian family whose father and three sons served as chief of the Choctaw Indian Nation. Additionally, the Ouachita Mountains got their name from the Choctaw’s word for hunting trips, “Owa-chita.”

Broken Bow Lake was authorized by the Flood Control Acts of 1958 and 1967. Construction of the Broken Bow Dam on the Mountain Fork River commenced in 1961, and the project went into full operation in 1969. Broken Bow Reservoir provides for hydropower generation, flood control, water supply, and public recreation. Old Hochatown, settled by the Choctaw Indians in the 1830’s, was flooded by impoundment of the river’s waters. The lake and nearby town of Broken Bow, center of Oklahoma’s timber production, were named after Broken Bow, Nebraska, former hometown of a pioneer lumber family.

Today, Broken Bow Lake offers visitors unlimited recreational opportunities, including boating, water skiing, fishing, camping, wildlife viewing, hiking, biking, horseback riding, picnicking, canoeing and kayaking. Anglers are challenged by deep lake waters, with an average depth of 62 feet and a maximum depth near 185 feet. The best fishing locations for largemouth bass and spotted bass are rocky points, timber, creek channels, and brush fish attractors. Other fish species include black crappie, channel catfish, flathead catfish, smallmouth bass, and redear sunfish. The Mountain Fork River below the dam offers year-round fishing for rainbow trout and brown trout.

Broken Bow Lake is surrounded by Beavers Bend State Park, Hochatown State Park, and the Ouachita National Forest. Hochatown State Park wraps around the western shore of Broken Bow Lake. Accommodation offerings range from Lakeview Lodge, to RV campsites (Stevens Gap, Carson Creek and Cedar Creek areas), to primitive campsites. Recreation amenities include a swimming beach, lighted boat ramps, fish cleaning station, backpacking and hiking trails, group shelters and picnic sites, playgrounds, and an 18 hole golf course with pro shop.

Beavers Bend State Park is located on a cypress-lined bend of the Mountain Fork River below Broken Bow Dam. Lodging choices include cabins (some with river views) and two group camps. Beavers Bend provides numerous recreational amenities: boat ramps, biking trails, tennis and volleyball, trout fishing, nature center activities, river float trips, miniature golf, paddleboats, bumper boats, canoeing, horseback riding, hayrides, and train rides. The park hosts the Owa-Chito Festival of the Forest in June, the Beavers Bend Folk Festival in November, eagle watches from November through February, and fly fishing clinics November to April.

Beavers Bend State Park is also a popular birding destination. April and May are peak birding months, when most of the resident and migrating species are present. Approximately 130 bird species have been identified, including about 25 species of warblers. The Tulsa Audubon Society has conducted Christmas Bird Counts since 1960. The winter list of about 60 species includes Black Vulture, Bald Eagle, Hermit Thrush, Brown Thrasher, Winter Wren, and Pine Warbler. Rarely included are the Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Rock Wren, Red Crossbill, and Evening Grosbeak.

The Broken Bow Public Hunting Area encompasses 5,420 acres. The forested terrain provides habitat for deer, wild turkey, and squirrel. No hunting is permitted in the 14,087-acre McCurtain County Wilderness Area.

Broken Bow Lake beckons outdoor enthusiasts to the scenic Ouachita Mountains of southeastern Oklahoma. Set your GPS today to this recreation mecca.

Things to do at Broken Bow Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Golf
  • Tennis
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • National Forest
  • Playground
  • Miniature Golf

Fish species found at Broken Bow Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Black Crappie
  • Brown Trout
  • Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Flathead Catfish
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Redear Sunfish (Shellcracker)
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Spotted Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Trout

Broken Bow Lake Photo Gallery

Broken Bow Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

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

Surface Area: 14,220 acres

Shoreline Length: 180 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 600 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 559 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 628 feet

Average Depth: 62 feet

Maximum Depth: 185 feet

Water Volume: 954,100 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1969

Drainage Area: 754 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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