Grand Lake O’the Cherokees, Oklahoma, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Southwest - Oklahoma - Green Country -

Also known as:  Grand Lake Over the Cherokees

Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees stands out as a sapphire jewel tucked into the northeastern Oklahoma landscape. Created in 1940, the reservoir stretches for 46,500 acres and offers explorers more than 1,300 miles of shoreline to investigate. Known for its incredible scenery and wealth of recreation activities, Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees is a favorite destination for thousands of annual visitors.

When the Pensacola Dam was completed, impounding the Grand River (sometimes called Neosho River), Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees began to fill. In 1947, the Grand River Dam Authority developed its first rules and regulations over the lake’s waters, and served to protect the public and the lake. Built for hydropower generation and flood control, the lake helps to control flooding along the Arkansas River watershed. Today, Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees is a popular tourist destination.

Fishing is a favorite way to start a visit to Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees, and the reservoir is known as one of the best angling lakes in the state. Hosting several bass tournaments each year, this Oklahoma gem boasts a constant stream of tournament catches and record holders, giving anglers plenty to dream about. If you drop a line in, prepare for a catch of mainly largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass, with the occasional black bass, crappie, paddlefish, and spoonbill catfish thrown into the mix. Please keep in mind that an Oklahoma fishing license is required to fish at Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees.

While at the lake, you owe it to yourself to get out on the water and take a spin in a boat. Many local marinas rent everything from high-speed motor boats to leisurely canoes and kayaks, so take your pick and prepare for a sunny day on the lake. Since Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees is so large, it’s best to pick a place to explore, even if in a speed boat. Slowing down to drink in the natural beauty, especially the towering Ozarks in the background, is worth the extra minutes you’ll spend.

As your internal temperature goes up, the Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees water will look more and more inviting. Don’t hesitate, jump in! Cool, refreshing waters await, promising hours of relaxing floating or adrenaline-pumping waterskiing. Dropping anchor for a boat picnic is another lake favorite, and as you watch the birds swoop through the skies and other boats drift by, you’ll feel yourself start to unwind. As then tension drains, you’ll know that vacation has truly begun.

Five state parks line the shores of Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees: Bernice State Park, Cherokee State Park, Disney/Little Blue State Park, Honey Creek State Park, and Twin Bridges State Park. They offer campsites and hiking trails to help you get back to nature. Explore hiking trails that wind through forests, introducing you to the magnificent Ozarks, and give you a front row pass to the best of Oklahoma flora and fauna.

For a little off-water fun, a visit to area wineries promises wonderful food and drink. Go on a wine tasting tour at and stay for a romantic overnight if the urge hits. And if you’re a history buff, the Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees area offers several museums, including Har-Ber Village, which is home to one of the largest antique museums in the nation.

Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees is a beautiful aquatic gem cut into the heart of Oklahoma and the Ozarks. Offering myriad water activities and many more land activities, the lake and its neighboring communities welcome visitors with open arms, beckoning you to come back soon.

Things to do at Grand Lake O’the Cherokees

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Fishing Tournaments
  • Boating
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • Museum
  • Antiquing

Fish species found at Grand Lake O’the Cherokees

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Paddlefish
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Spotted Bass

Grand Lake O’the Cherokees Photo Gallery

Grand Lake O’the Cherokees Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Grand River Dam Authority

Surface Area: 46,500 acres

Shoreline Length: 1,300 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 745 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 730 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 755 feet

Average Depth: 36 feet

Maximum Depth: 164 feet

Water Volume: 1,672,000 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1940

Lake Area-Population: 5,000

Drainage Area: 10,298 sq. miles

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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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