Lake Wister, Oklahoma, USA

Also known as:  Wister Lake, Wister Reservoir

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

If you’re considering Lake Wister 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 Lake Wister guide!

Lake Wister visitor and community guide

Lake Locations: USA - Southwest - Oklahoma - Kiamichi Country -

Lake Wister, in southeastern Oklahoma’s Kiamichi Country, is a reservoir created by damming the Poteau River — the only river that flows north in Oklahoma — and the Fourche Maline Creek.

The lake was authorized in 1938 by the Flood Control Act of 1938 for flood control and conservation. Operational in 1949, the 7,333-acre lake is located in the San Bois Mountains, an area inhabited for thousands of years as evidenced by numerous mounds from prehistoric Native Americans. As home to the important artifacts, Lake Wister is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Lake Wister fishing and hunting

Boasting 115 miles of shoreline, Lake Wister offers some of the best catfish and crappie fishing in Oklahoma. The Poteau River above Wister Lake is also a good area to fish during the spring runs of sand or white bass. Other fish to look for include largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, and sunfish.

Hunting is allowed at the Wister Wildlife Management Area, where you can expect to find white-tailed deer, turkey, waterfowl, rabbit, squirrel, bobcat, coyote, raccoon, beaver, skunk, opossum, fox, quail, and dove. Nongame species that are protected include bald and golden eagles, river otter, and black bears. The Wister Wildlife Management Area offers camping, cabins, RV sites, showers, picnic areas, group picnic shelters, and a lighted boat ramp.

Things to do at Lake Wister

Orange and pink sunset at Lake Wister State Park
Don Blakes Prairie Wind Photography via canva

Lake Wister State Park, the gateway to Ouachita National Forest, offers hiking, camping, paddling, bicycling, picnicking, fishing, hunting, boating, water skiing, miniature golf, and volleyball. Other facilities in the state park include lighted boat ramps, playgrounds, a nature center, and a swimming beach. The fall foliage in this part of Oklahoma is famous and attracts visitors and organized groups every year to the Lake Wister area.

If you just want to relax at Lake Wister, there is plenty to do, including hunting, fishing, camping, picnicking, swimming, boating, water skiing, jet skiing, bird watching, and nature photography. Vacation rentals are available at Lake Wister for weekend, weekly, or monthly rates, as well as real estate for the more permanently-minded visitor.

For off-the-lake activities, visit Poteau to see the Kerr Legacy & Historical Center. The former home to U.S. Senator Robert S. Kerr, the mansion contains many personal items and office furnishings of the late Senator.

Kathryn White via canva

Visit Heavener Runestone Park, near the city of Heavener, to see the runstone believed to be a land claim made by a Viking explorer prior to 1000 A.D.

Just past Wister State Park is the Ouachita National Forest, which covers almost two million acres in Arkansas and Oklahoma.

Incredible mountain views and pristine rivers and lakes make the Ouachita National Forest a beautiful outdoor destination. Travel the Winding Star National Scenic Byway to get a good glimpse at Ouachita and what the national forest has to offer. There is an extensive trail system that accommodates hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and off-road vehicles. Other areas in the national forest you might want to visit include Red Slough Wildlife Area, the Womble Trail, and the Ouachita National Recreation Trail.

Wister Reservoir and the surrounding area could keep anyone busy for weeks — exploring the wildlife areas, playing in the lake, and just relaxing to a beautiful sunset. Head to Lake Wister in southeastern Oklahoma for an Oklahoma most people don’t even know exists.

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Custom Lake Wister house decor

Read our full review of these personalized lake house signs.

Things to do at Lake Wister

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

Fish species found at Lake Wister

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Spotted Bass
  • Sunfish
  • White Bass

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Lake Wister

The Lake Wister 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.

Lake Wister photo gallery

New photos coming soon!

Lake Wister statistics & helpful links


Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

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

Surface Area: 7,333 acres

Shoreline Length: 115 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 478 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 450 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 503 feet

Average Depth: 8 feet

Maximum Depth: 44 feet

Water Volume: 61,423 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1949

Drainage Area: 993 sq. miles

Trophic State: Eutrophic

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