Created in 1940, Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees is ideal for water activities, including boating, skiing, swimming, sailing and fishing. While not on the water, visit the area’s many museums, golf courses, shops and communities. Grand Lake is managed by the Grand River Dam Authority and is one of only two lakes in the state that allows waterfront property.
To get there: Located about one hour northeast of Tulsa. Take Interstate 44 east toward Joplin, with multiple exits available for Grand Lake.
For more information: 918-782-3214, www.grandlakechamber.org
Lake Eufaula is the largest manmade lake in Oklahoma and has more than 600 miles of shoreline. While the lake is known for its outstanding fishing, Lake Eufaula State Park offers a nature center, golf course, hiking trails and more for visitors. Nearby towns Eufaula and Krebs are great places to spend an afternoon or enjoy an evening meal.
To get there: Located about 1 1/2 hours south of Tulsa. Take Oklahoma 51 and the Muskogee Turnpike east to U.S. Highway 69 south.
For more information: 918-689-7751, www.visitlakeeufaula.com
Fort Gibson Lake
With its lakeshores only five miles from the historic Fort Gibson site, this lake is a popular destination for local anglers, fall foliage tours and wildlife spectators. Western Hills Guest Ranch and Sequoyah State Park are popular destinations, with a golf course, hiking trails, nature center and marina.
To get there: Located about an hour east of Tulsa. Take Oklahoma 51 east through Wagoner.
For more information: 918-485-4623, www.fortgibsonlake.com
Located near the Cherokee Hills Scenic Byway, Lake Tenkiller is known for some of the clearest water in Oklahoma, attracting those who love to fish, boat, swim and be around nature. While in the area, many visit the Cookson Game Refuge to see Oklahoma wildlife. Numerous hiking and biking trails surround the lake and outlying area.
To get there: Located about 1 1/2 hours from Tulsa. Take Oklahoma 51 and the Muskogee Turnpike east, continuing through Webbers Falls along Oklahoma 100.
For more information: 918-457-4403, www.laketenkiller.com
Divided into the Upper and Lower, the Illinois River provides a wealth of scenic options for fishing and nature junkies. The Upper Illinois is known for its scenic river and has proved to be a popular rafting destination, with numerous outfitters available along the waterway. The Lower Illinois is the only year-round trout stream in Oklahoma, stocked weekly March through Fourth of July and biweekly the rest of the year.
To get there: The Upper Illinois River is located about 1 1/2 hours from Tulsa. Follow Oklahoma 51 and the Muskogee Turnpike to U.S. Highway 62 east through Tahlequah. The Lower Illinois River is located about 1 1/2 hours southeast of Tulsa. Travel east on Oklahoma 51 and the Muskogee Turnpike to U.S. Highway 64 east toward the Gore area.
For more information: 918-456-3251, www.oklahomascenicrivers.net