Kaw Lake, Kansas & Oklahoma, USA

Also known as:  Kaw Reservoir

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

If you’re considering Kaw 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 Kaw Lake guide!

Kaw Lake visitor and community guide

Kaw Lake is a large lake covering an area of 17,000 acres. Its three fingerlike “arms” lie in two midwestern states, Oklahoma and Kansas. Kaw Lake is fairly new; it was started in the 1960’s and completed in 1972 for purposes of flood control, hydropower, navigation, water supply, water quality, recreation, and wildlife conservation. The Kaw Dam, which spans the Arkansas River, stretches 9,446 feet long and 121 feet high, and is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The name for Kaw Lake comes from the Kaw nation of Native Americans who reside in the area. Nicknamed “Nature’s Playground,” Kaw Lake provides a variety of on-water and off-water recreation opportunities.

Kaw Lake is a fantastic place to kick back and relax for a day, week, or even longer. A variety of accommodations in the nearby towns provide lodging for those staying in the area for awhile; of course, there’s also camping for those who bring a tent or RV. A good selection of campgrounds in the area provide a few hundred camp sites to choose from.

Visitors will want to make sure that they plan plenty of time for their stay. There’s lots to do and explore at Kaw Lake. You can enjoy your favorite water sport, whether it be jet skiing, water skiing, or boating. Thirteen boat ramps and two marinas ensure a convenient and enjoyable boating experience. Of course, on some days there’s nothing more appealing than taking a refreshing swim in the lake. When temperatures soar, you can cool off on one of the two swimming beaches at the lake. Kaw Lake also attracts anglers, who can try for one of the lake’s large catfish. Other fish species that make their home in the lake include white bass, crappie, and walleye.

Outdoor exercise in the form of hiking and biking is easy to enjoy at Kaw Lake. The nearby Eagle View Hiking Trail is about twelve miles long, and is perfect for enjoying a brisk walk. There’s also an equestrian trail for horse lovers who have brought their hoofed friends with them. Hunting is another activity enjoyed in the Kaw Lake area. The Kaw Wildlife Management Area and other public lands provide many hunting opportunities for deer, turkey, bobwhite quail, duck, and other wildlife.

Visitors to Kaw Lake may want to plan their trip around one of the interesting events held in the area. One of the popular events is Kaw Fest, held in June or July. It’s a festival jam-packed with good food and lots of fun, including live music, games, water sports, and much more. And if you’re near Kaw Lake in the winter, you can participate in the Kaw Lake Eagle Watch. This event, held each year in January, provides an opportunity to learn about and observe Kaw Lake’s winter population of bald eagles.

One thing is for sure – there’s no shortage of things to do at Kaw Lake. Between the exciting water sports, hunting and fishing opportunities, and great festivals to enjoy, Kaw Lake will become a favorite outdoor destination.

Custom Kaw Lake house decor

Read our full review of these personalized lake house signs.

Things to do at Kaw Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Playground

Fish species found at Kaw Lake

  • Bass
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Perch
  • Walleye
  • White Bass

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Kaw Lake

The Kaw 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.

Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.

Kaw Lake photo gallery

New photos coming soon!

Kaw Lake statistics & helpful links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

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

Surface Area: 17,000 acres

Shoreline Length: 168 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,010 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 0 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 1,044 feet

Average Depth: 26 feet

Water Volume: 406,540 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1972

Water Residence Time: 176 days

Drainage Area: 6,652 sq. miles

Trophic State: Eutrophic

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