Norfork Lake, Missouri & Arkansas, USA
Locals describe Norfork Lake as “unspoiled, uncrowded, and unforgettable.” It is an apt description for this beautiful lake hidden in the Ozark Region of Arkansas and the Southwest Region of Missouri. Most of Norfolk Lake’s 22,000 acres are in Arkansas, with its northern portion extending into Missouri. With many creek bays, branches, and sandy islands, visitors will be charmed by this recreational gem.
Built as an impoundment of the North Fork of the White River, Norfork Lake was created by the Norfork Dam to control floods and create hydro electric power for north Arkansas. Construction on the concrete gravity dam began in 1941 and was completed in 1944. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the dam for flood control, hydroelectric power, and drinking water. The Corps still manages the dam and lake and has been instrumental in limiting development around the shoreline.
Hunting around the lake is very good, and there are over 20,000 acres of public land set aside for hunters, with another 10,000 acres designated as wildlife management areas. In fact, Norfork Lake is one of the few places where it is possible to hunt for turkey and fish for stripers from the same boat. The prime hardwood forest, laced with creeks that surround the lake, provides ideal habitat for a robust turkey population; white tailed deer, waterfowl, and game birds abound.
The lake never freezes, so anglers will find exceptional fishing year round. Healthy populations of largemouth and smallmouth bass, black bass, white bass and stripers, as well as crappie, walleye, and catfish are all found in Norfork Lake, which also hosts several fishing tournaments each year. There are also opportunities for scuba diving and spear fishing. Below the dam, Norfork National Fish Hatchery (one of the largest Federal trout hatcheries east of the Rockies) provides rainbow trout for stocking, adding to the superb trout fishing.
With over 550 miles of shoreline and 20 developed parks that include 10 recreation areas managed by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, Norfork Lake is an ideal outdoor playground. You can enjoy hiking, swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, boating, water skiing, hunting, fishing, sightseeing, and bird watching.
Located just 10 minutes from Norfork Lake is Mountain Home, Arkansas, home to the Blanchard Springs Caverns (the only cave system in the U.S. operated by the Forest Service), Bull Shoals Caverns, Hurricane River Cave, and Mystic Caverns. Other local attractions include the Ozark National Forest, Ozark Highlands National Recreation Trail, and Ozark Mountain Biking Trails. The Ozark Highlands Trail is a 178-mile backpacking trail that winds from the National Forest to the Buffalo National River. Ozark National Forest is a 130,000-acre hardwood forest that offers camping, hiking, and horeseback riding.
Vacation rentals and real estate are readily available around Norfork Lake in Arkansas. Visitors can explore Norfork Lake on the water by sailboat, speed boat, houseboat, canoe or kayak, or on land by hiking one of the many Corps maintained trails. There are plenty of activities to delight the senses on this “unspoiled, uncrowded, and unforgettable” lake.
Things to do at Norfork Lake
- Vacation Rentals
- Fishing Tournaments
- Water Skiing
- Scuba Diving
- Wildlife Viewing
- National Forest
Fish species found at Norfork Lake
- Black Bass
- Largemouth Bass
- Rainbow Trout
- Smallmouth Bass
- White Bass
Norfork Lake Photo Gallery
Norfork Lake Statistics & Helpful Links
Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed
Water Level Control: US Army Corps of Engineers
Surface Area: 22,000 acres
Shoreline Length: 550 miles
Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 552 feet
Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 510 feet
Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 580 feet
Average Depth: 86 feet
Maximum Depth: 177 feet
Water Volume: 1,900,000 acre-feet
Completion Year: 1944
Drainage Area: 1,806 sq. miles
Spread the word! Share our Norfork Lake article with your fellow Lake Lubbers!