Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees
Boasting more than half of Oklahoma’s state parks, Green Country encompasses much of the state’s northeast corner. Situated in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains, it’s also home to Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees — or simply “Grand Lake,” according to locals — a popular and fun-filled waterfront destination with enough outdoor activities to keep families busy for days.
With over 1,300 miles of shoreline, Grand Lake is a sportsman’s paradise that draws nature lovers from across the state. Best known for its unrivaled bass fishing, the lake plays host to hundreds of annual fishing derbies, as well as plenty of opportunities to land the crappies, catfish and bluegill that also flourish in the bountiful waters home. There are numerous launches if you have your own boat, or you can head to one of the many marinas to charter fishing guides for an expert day on the water. The five state parks — including the popular Bernice and Cherokee Areas — that line the shores of the lake promise family-friendly recreation, beaches, swimming and plenty of quiet coves for near-private fishing.
Casting a Line
Winding in a serpentine shape from northeast to southwest, Grand Lake frequently serves up a steady wind perfect for setting sail. Rentals are available in the waterfront towns of Grove and Bernice, as are lessons, sunset sails and other excursions. Parasailing, jet skiing and the more adventurous water sports are also on the menu, especially around the fun-loving areas of Snowdale and Monkey Island, while quiet paddles can be found north of the lake along the Neosho River. Beginners will appreciate the flat, wide stretches of serene water. Head to the Little Blue Area at Grand Lake State Park for creek swimming, camping and fishing in an off-the-beaten-path stretch of forest.
Hunting and Wildlife Watching
Although lake life gets top billing here, there’s plenty to do on solid ground. The Spavinaw Hills Game Management Area just south of the lake is a picturesque landscape of rugged hills and prairies brimming with dogwood and hickory trees. Hunters flock there to score everything from quail to deer to turkey. Bald eagles and other non-game species are also often found in the surrounding countryside. The Bernice Area on the lake’s shore is best known as a fishing hot spot, but the park features a paved trail, a nature center and two wildlife viewing towers for photographers and bird-watchers. Keep an eye out for the lake’s most popular visitors: the migratory pelicans that stop by between spring and fall.
Riding the Cherokee Queen
Experience Green Country’s colorful history with a trip on the Cherokee Queen, a 1940s-era paddle wheel boat. Sign up for a sunset, dinner dance or sightseeing trip; you’re sure to find an outing that allows you to relive the adventure and romance of a bygone mode of travel. For more history, head to Har-Ber Village, a museum that features costumed reenactments and historical buildings from the pioneer era.
In June, the town of Grove plays host to the American Heritage Music Festival, which features bluegrass bands, open jams and a world-class fiddle competition with some of the genre’s brightest stars.
For More Information
Visit Grand Lake
Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department