Ozark Lake, Arkansas, USA

Welcome to the ultimate guide to Ozark Lake — things to do, where to stay, fun facts, history, stats and more. Let’s dive in!

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Looking for Ozark Lake cabins or other accommodations? Save time and use this interactive map to find, compare and book at the best rates. Or explore our comprehensive list of favorite travel partners.

All About Ozark Lake

Formed by the completion of the Ozark-Jeta Taylor Lock and Dam and Powerhouse in 1969, Ozark Lake is a 10,600-acre lake located between the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains in Arkansas. The lake stretches across Franklin, Crawford, and Sebastian Counties and extends for 36 miles along the Arkansas River. Its 137 miles of shoreline and multiple parks make it an excellent lake for fishing, boating and other water related activities.

Ozark Lake is part of a multi-purpose plan for development of the Arkansas River and tributaries, known as the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System which connects Tulsa, Oklahoma to the Mississippi through 440 miles of waterways. Hydroelectric power generation, navigation, recreation, water supply, erosion control, and enhancement of fish and wildlife resources were the primary objectives of the project completed in the 1970s. In addition to the lake acreage, 6,349 acres of land surrounding Ozark Lake have been included in the project and are used for hiking, biking, horseback riding and hunting. Recreational facilities constructed along the shoreline of Ozark Lake include picnicking and camping areas complete with grills, tables, pavilions, boat ramps, canoe rentals, swimming areas, drinking water, showers, restrooms, and playgrounds.

Thanks to the flowing waters of the Arkansas River, all game fish native to Arkansas can be found in Ozark Lake. Fishing is good year round for catfish, bream, crappie, white bass and largemouth bass. For variety, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission stocks the lake with striped sea bass and sauger. Anglers will find great success whether fishing from boat or shore. To enjoy some of the best sauger fishing, try the water below the Ozark-Jeta Taylor Lock and Dam. From late fall until early spring, this is a very popular spot. Eating fish from most Arkansas lakes and streams is safe, but several counties have issued a fish consumption advisory. Check the link at the bottom of this page to see which areas are affected.

The public land surrounding Ozark Lake is heavily used for hiking, biking, hunting and camping. There a number of campgrounds around the lake and in the wooded areas near the lake. The River Bluff Trail is approximately 7/8 of a mile in length and winds its way to the high bluffs overlooking Ozark Lake. An overlook shelter at the top of the bluffs is a great place for photos and an incredible view of the area. Hunters will find an abundance of deer, quail, squirrels, rabbits, dove, wild turkey, ducks and geese during state hunting seasons. Cabin and vacation rentals are available for hunters and those seeking the perfect vacation retreat.

Wildlife enthusiasts visiting Ozark Lake won’t want to miss a trip to the Ozark-St. Francis National Forests. Located north of Ozark Lake, the Ozark-St. Francis National Forests are two separate forests. The Ozark National Forest covers 1.2 million acres of land, mostly in the Ozark Mountains. The tallest mountain in the state, Mount Magazine, and an incredible, underground cave, Blanchard Springs Caverns, can be found in this forest. The St. Francis National Forest covers 22,600 acres and is one of the smallest and most diverse forests in the country. The Forest contains two large lakes, Bear Creek Reservoir and Storm Creek Lake, where anglers will find large populations of largemouth bass, crappie, warmouth, and channel catfish. Both forests offer recreational opportunities for camping, hiking, horseback riding, swimming, fishing, hunting, boating, scenic drives, picnics sites, and opportunities for wildlife viewing. Several National Scenic Byways cross the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest, including the Scenic 7 Byway which runs from Missouri to Louisiana, 60 miles of which are within the Ozark National Forest.

Two of the largest wineries in the state are located 7 miles east of Ozark Lake in the town of Altus. Visitors will find large grape vineyards and fine wineries for tasting and purchasing wine.

35 miles south of Ozark Lake sits the town of Fort Smith, named for General Thomas A. Smith, commander of the 9th Military Department. The original fort was the scene of much activity during the Civil War. Fort Smith sits on the banks of the Arkansas River and is today the second largest city in Arkansas. With a blend of the Old South and the Old West, Fort Smith offers visitors of all ages a peek into the past with its restorations and museums and a view of the future with its modern malls, water parks, and golf courses.

Ozark Lake a great place to take the entire family for a few days or even a week of fun. You can spend the day fishing, canoeing, or hiking into the lush forests. Cool off and go for a swim or ride a horse to the top of a mountain for some spectacular views.

Things to Do at Ozark Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • National Forest
  • Museum
  • Playground

Fish Species Found at Ozark Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Perch
  • Sauger
  • Sunfish
  • Warmouth
  • White Bass

Find Places to Stay at Ozark Lake

If you’re considering a Ozark Lake lake house rental or hotel, we’ve made it super easy to find the best rates and compare vacation accommodations at a glance. Save time using this interactive map below.

Recommended Sites to Book a Ozark Lake Vacation

If you want to take a deeper dive to find waterfront lake cabins, cottages, condos, hotels or resorts, check out our favorite Ozark Lake lodging partners.

  • VRBO – Use VRBO to find the perfect lake rental home, condo, cabin, cottage or other vacation property.
  • Booking.com – One of the world’s leading digital travel companies, Booking.com connects travelers to everything from cozy B&Bs to luxury resorts.
  • Expedia – Expedia is a popular online travel agency with more than 140,000 lodging properties worldwide.
  • Hotels.com – With more than 325,000 hotels in 19,000-plus locations, Hotels.com is an industry leader in online accommodations.
  • TripAdvisor – Read traveler reviews and compare prices on hotels, vacation rentals and more at TripAdvisor.
  • Trivago – Trivago helps travelers compare deals for hotels and other accommodations from a variety of booking sites.
  • KAYAK – KAYAK scours hundreds of other travel websites at once to find the best deals on hotels and other travel-related services.
  • RVshare –RVshare connects travelers interested in renting a motorhome with owners who have RVs to rent.
  • CampSpot – Campspot offers premier RV resorts, family campgrounds, cabins and glamping options across North America.

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.

Ozark Lake Statistics & Helpful Links


Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

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

Surface Area: 10,600 acres

Shoreline Length: 173 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 372 feet

Water Volume: 148,400 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1969

We strive to keep the information on LakeLubbers as accurate as possible. However, if you’ve found something in this article that needs updating, we’d certainly love to hear from you! Please fill out our Content Correction form.

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