Bull Shoals Lake, Missouri & Arkansas, USA

Welcome to the ultimate guide for history, statistics, local fun facts and the best things to do at Bull Shoals Lake.

If you’re considering Bull Shoals Lake vacation rentals, we’ve made it super easy to explore accommodations and nearby hotels using the interactive map below. Simply click on a listing to compare similar properties, best rates and availability for your dates. Or keep scrolling to read our Bull Shoals Lake guide!

Bull Shoals Lake visitor and community guide

Lake Locations: USA - Midwest - Missouri - Southwest - South - Arkansas - Ozarks -

Tucked in the Ozark Mountains, Bull Shoals Lake offers year round opportunities for relaxation and recreation. With over 45,000 surface acres of water it is the larger of the Ozark Twin Lakes (Norfolk Lake being the other), extending from northern Arkansas into southern Missouri. Its rocky shoreline, ample fishing, and clear water make Bull Shoals Lake the perfect spot for a mountain getaway.

Construction on Bull Shoals Dam on the White River began in 1947 and was completed in 1951. Bull Shoals Lake was created in the Upper White River Basin for flood control and hydroelectric power. The lake also serves the Marion County Regional Water District, which draws more than a million gallons of water a day from the lake. The lake is currently operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

How did the lake get its unusual name? One explanation is that early French hunters and trappers used the word “boill” to refer to the large springs near the shoals of the White River. Another legend refers to shallow areas of the White River where bulls were used to pull boats in the strong and fast current.

Bull Shoals Lake is home to many varieties of fish including black and white crappie, catfish, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and trout. In fact, it is one of the few places where anglers can fish for striped bass and trout in the same water. Fishermen have pulled pan fish and walleye from the lake that hold state records in both Arkansas and Missouri. Because the lake doesn’t freeze, it offers year round fishing. Spear fishing is also popular in the clear mountain water. The White River below the Bull Shoals Dam has excellent trout fishing, yielding record catches for cutthroat and rainbow trout. Bull Shoals Lake is truly an angler’s paradise.

Water sports enthusiasts love Bull Shoals Lake. Its clear blue water has earned it the title “Caribbean of the Midwest.” Because of the outstanding visibility, scuba diving is a popular lake pastime, and the swimming is good from mid-May through late September. There is also great waterskiing and wakeboarding, and the lake is a favorite destination for both motorboats and sailboats.

With its mountain shoreline and unusual rock formations, Bull Shoals Lake is a treat for nature lovers. Over a hundred bald eagles spend winter months in the Bull Shoals area, and the hardwood and cedar glades provide a place for bird watching and hunting. White-tailed deer, Eastern wild turkey, ducks, geese and doves are just a few of the birds and animals that call Bull Shoals Lake home.

The Bull Shoals-White River State Park features camping, picnic areas, hiking trails, a multi-use trail, swimming areas, boat ramps, and a marina with boat rentals and supplies. The park’s new Visitors Center provides spectacular views of the White River, Bull Shoals Dam, and Bull Shoals Lake. Golf, tennis, restaurants and shopping are nearby. The lake has something for everyone, and with its fishing, water sports, and nature activities, Bull Shoals Lake is an Ozark Mountain gem waiting to be enjoyed.

Custom Bull Shoals Lake house decor

Read our full review of these personalized lake house signs.

Things to do at Bull Shoals Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Water Skiing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Scuba Diving
  • Golf
  • Tennis
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Bull Shoals Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Perch
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Striped Bass
  • Trout
  • Walleye
  • White Crappie

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Bull Shoals Lake

The Bull Shoals Lake map shown above is a simple and stress-free way to search for trip accommodations. But if you want to take a deeper dive to find the ideal waterfront home, cabin, condo, hotel or resort, visit our favorite lodging partners by clicking the buttons below.

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Bull Shoals Lake photo gallery

New photos coming soon!

Bull Shoals Lake statistics & helpful links

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