Sardis Lake, Oklahoma, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Southwest - Oklahoma - Kiamichi Country -

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
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • National Forest
  • Museum

Fish species found at Sardis Lake OK

  • Bass
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Perch
  • Sunfish
  • Walleye

Sardis Lake OK Photo Gallery

Sardis Lake OK Statistics & Helpful Links

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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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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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