Canton Lake, Oklahoma, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Southwest - Oklahoma - Red Carpet Country -

Canton Lake is an expansive body of water in northwestern Oklahoma’s Red Carpet Country (named for its red soil). The United States Army Corps of Engineers constructed Canton Lake in 1948 in this land of gigantic mesas, rocky buttes and gypsum sand dunes. It is a destination for outdoor enthusiasts and folks just looking for some pretty scenery.

Canton Lake is located on the North Canadian River, two miles north of the town of Canton. It was originally constructed for flood control, water supply and a water reservoir. Oklahoma City pays to have water released from Canton Lake when it is in need of water.

Recreation is the big draw to Canton Lake. Canton Lake brings in droves of campers, picnickers, boaters, fishermen, and hunters every year. Canton Lake’s gently sloping sandy beaches invite visitors in for a swim and offer ample room for sunbathing. The broad placid water is ideal for water skiing. The Corps of Engineers runs five multi-use recreation areas. Each area offers a mixture of overnight camping and day-use opportunities such as picnicking. Water gazers can take in the beauty of the lake from a 2.5 mile stretch of State Highway 58A crossing over the Canton Dam. There are three parking areas with fishing piers located on the dam as well as a nature trail, overlook visitor center, outdoor amphitheater, scenic drive and an active prairie dog town.

Anglers know Canton Lake as Oklahoma’s leading fisherman’s paradise. It is home to crappie, white bass, hybrid bass, channel catfish, and largemouth bass. Canton is most widely known for an abundance of walleye and has become the primary source of walleye eggs used to stock other Oklahoma lakes. Canton Lake hosts an annual Walleye Rodeo fishing derby during the month of May, usually the weekend after Mother’s Day. The event attracts 150,000 to 200,000 visitors to the Canton Lake area each day of the event. Lake front homes are among the available vacation rentals, but if you are coming for the Walleye Rodeo you will have to plan far in advance.

Hunters travel to the Canton Lake area for year round hunting opportunities. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation operates the Canton Wildlife Management Area. It is a 14,862-acre public hunting area with most of the land being adjacent to Canton Lake and the North Canadian River. Hunters can scope out bobwhite quail, deer, waterfowl, squirrel, wild turkey, and doves all year. Canton WMA is predominantly floodplain habitat with some upland sites occurring toward the western end of the area.
The habitat varies from end to end. On the eastern end is post oak/blackjack cross timbers type of habitat. Sand sage grassland interspersed with sand plum, eastern red cedar, American elm, and black locust make up the habitat in the west end of the WMA.

Roman Nose State Park and Lodge is about 30 miles south of Canton Lake in Watonga, Oklahoma. The site was once a winter campground of the Cheyenne tribe. Now it is a scenic retreat on a canyon bluff over-looking ancient mesas. In 2009 the main lodge is undergoing renovations but the rest of the park and cabins remain open. The park boosts an 18-hole golf course, swimming pools, hiking trails, two lakes with trout fishing in season, canoeing, paddleboats, mountain biking, horse stables, and hayrides by reservation; picnic areas, tent campsites, and RV campsites with hookups round out the amenities. Roman Nose State Park also offers good opportunities for fall foliage and wildlife viewing. In the summer months there are even teepee rentals.

Also in Watonga is the TB Ferguson House. It is a magnificently renovated Victorian home circa 1907. It was the home of newspaper man and former territorial governor TB Ferguson. Ferguson was the territory’s longest standing governor from November 1901 to January 1906. His greatest contribution was pushing for statehood for the Oklahoma territory.

North of Canton Lake is the town of Fairview. The Major County Historical Society and Museum is a 160-acre farm on State Highway 58. The grounds surround the museum, the Veteran’s Memorial, a one-room school house, the Orient Depot, the BlueFront Hotel, a turn of the century house and the Avenue of Memories, a brick walk with bricks engraved with the names of people and businesses that have help Major County prosper over the past 100 years.

Canton Lake is a breathtaking destination, filled with the drama of massive ancient mesas, rugged buttes and sweeping sand dunes. It is a place where the fishing and the hunting are just as good as the views. Once you visit, we are sure you will want to return.

Things to do at Canton Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Swimming
  • Swimming Pool
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Water Skiing
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • Museum

Fish species found at Canton Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Perch
  • Trout
  • Walleye
  • White Bass

Canton Lake Photo Gallery

    Canton Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

    Water Level Control: Army Corp of Engineers

    Surface Area: 7,910 acres

    Shoreline Length: 45 miles

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,615 feet

    Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 1,596 feet

    Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 1,626 feet

    Average Depth: 15 feet

    Maximum Depth: 30 feet

    Water Volume: 102,751 acre-feet

    Completion Year: 1948

    Drainage Area: 12,483 sq. miles

    Trophic State: Eutrophic

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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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