Sardis Lake, Oklahoma, USA
Also known as: Sardis Reservoir
No visitor could be better served than by a visit to beautiful Sardis Lake. Located in Oklahoma’s Kaimichi Region, the reservoir is surrounded by mountain ranges-the Winding Stair Mountains to the east and north, the Kiamichi Mountains to the south and the Jackfork Mountains to the west. The scenery is, of course, awesome, the lake inviting, and the surroundings a vacationer’s dream. Sardis Reservoir is a water source without demand at the present time. But when the need is there, so will be the reservoir.
Constructed in 1982 by the US Army Corps of Engineers, Jackfork Creek in southeast Oklahoma was impounded at the request of Oklahoma City. The city expected to be able to sell water to pay off the Corps for the construction and rights, but the sales didn’t materialize as planned. After several court battles, Oklahoma City was ordered to pay the Corps for the project. Currently, the reservoir is still under the ownership of the Corps. But none of this history has affected the visitor’s enjoyment of the facilities. Located about 45 miles east of McAlester, Sardis Lake greets thousands of visitors each year.
Water sports are a favorite activity at Sardis Lake. It is one of the favored locations in Oklahoma for sailing. One boat launch is available for sailboats, although sailors must usually move their craft to an adjoining area to finish rigging. Most consider this a minor price to pay for the privilege of sailing here.
As is common with Corps reservoirs, the Corps retains a narrow strip of land surrounding the lake and opens recreational facilities to the public. At Sardis Lake, six public access locations are maintained, three with campgrounds and boat launch ramps. Potato Hills Park on the east side of the reservoir is used most heavily. The swimming beach, picnic areas and improved modern campground are a favored weekend destination. All types of water activities are welcome, including power boating, water skiing, personal watercraft, canoeing, kayaking and pontooning. The swim area is roped off for the safety of swimmers. Boaters need be aware of all regulations – available from the Park Office – to make their visit a pleasurable one for all.
Fishing is a favorite activity of many visitors. Sardis Lake is known for producing several of Oklahoma’s largest bass, but that isn’t the only fish species to be caught here. Crappie, catfish, walleye and sunfish provide the action on the rare day when the bass aren’t biting. At the upstream reach of the reservoir it’s possible to fish from the bank in places, giving youngsters a spot to try the sport.
There are many hiking trails available around Sardis lake. Country roads in the area make bicycling a pleasant, though tiring experience due to the steep terrain. The densely forested area provides habitat for a wide variety of animals and birds. White-tail deer, raccoon, owls, opossum, fox, coyote, bobcat, wild turkey, rabbits and the occasional bear inhabit the surrounding mountains. Game species can be hunted in designated areas in season.
Because the shore is held as a wildlife and game area, there are no vacation rentals directly on the water. However, many lodgings in the area advertise their lake views. It is possible to find the perfect vacation rental within a stone’s throw of Sardis Lake. The many small towns around the area also have vacation rentals available, and real estate bargains can be found in this beautiful area. Nearby Clayton, Tuskahoma, Kaimichi, Honobia, Nashoba, Talihina and Wilburton often have local lodgings available as the entire area caters to vacationers, hunters and fishermen. As Sardis Lake is situated in the middle of the former Cherokee and Choctaw homelands, there are always Native American-themed activities occurring in the surrounding area.
The Choctaw Nation Capitol Museum is located at Tuskahoma, seven miles from Sardis Lake. Some things to see are the Trail of Tears Exhibit, Choctaw History, Culture, and Family Life Exhibits, and the Choctaw Code Talker Memorial Exhibit. The Labor Day Festival held here every year includes Choctaw Stickball, Choctaw Weddings, Choctaw Social Dancing, and Inter-Tribal Pow-wow, held on the grounds of the Capitol.
Nearby Clayton serves as home base for Sardis Lake. If visitors needs a loaf of bread, bait, ice, drinks or any other necessary but forgotten item, they can get it in Clayton. In addition, Clayton has its own lake and park, Clayton State Park, with camping, fishing and swimming on 96-acre Clayton Lake. Near the park are 4-wheeling trails used quite heavily by 4 X 4 groups.
To the south and east of Clayton, the small towns of Nashoba and Honobia are happy to share their many miles of Kaimichi trails and old logging roads with visitors. Tongue-in-cheek rumors throughout the area around Sardis Lake talk about the many stories of Bigfoot sightings. Several groups actively investigate the elusive creature in the Kaimichi Mountains. Honobia holds a Bigfoot Mountain Festival each fall with craft shows, carnival and, of course, having your picture taken with Bigfoot . . if he shows up. For the unexplained mystery buff, Honobia is far more welcoming toward the investigator than Area 51!
Northeast of Sardis Lake, Talihina is the gateway to the Talimena Scenic Drive. This 54-mile road trip takes visitors through some of the most spectacular scenery in the Talimena State Park and the Ouachita National Forest. This National Scenic Byway travels along the crest of Rich Mountain and Winding Stair Mountain in the Ouachita National Forest, ending in Mena, Arkansas. The scenery is a photographer’s delight.
Sardis Lake has much to offer visitors. A lake-focused vacation will restore your spirits and enrich your memories. Dont wait to visit Sardis Lake.
Things to do at Sardis Lake OK
- Vacation Rentals
- Water Skiing
- Wildlife Viewing
- State Park
- National Forest
Fish species found at Sardis Lake OK
Sardis Lake OK Photo Gallery
Sardis Lake OK Statistics & Helpful Links
Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed
Water Level Control: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Surface Area: 14,360 acres
Shoreline Length: 117 miles
Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 599 feet
Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 542 feet
Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 607 feet
Average Depth: 17 feet
Maximum Depth: 55 feet
Water Volume: 274,333 acre-feet
Completion Year: 1974
Drainage Area: 275 sq. miles
Trophic State: Mesotrophic
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