Lake offers camping, fishing, hiking and more
By David Jenkins
Recent rains have made some Texas lakes unusable.
If you don’t mind a short drive, Lake Tenkiller, located in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains in Sequoyah, Okla. provides a good alternative.
Tenkiller, which covers 12,900 acres with a shoreline of well over 130 miles in the Cookson Hills of the Ozark Mountains, is a reservoir in eastern Oklahoma formed by the damming of the Illinois River.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers planned the lake for control flooding, to generate hydroelectric power, and for water supply and recreation. They constructed the earth-filled dam between 1947 and 1952. The dam went into full operation in 1953.
The lake got its name from the Tenkiller family, a group of prominent Cherokees who owned the land.
The state of Oklahoma and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are in charge of 10 marinas and 14 parks around the lake.
There are many different activities offered on and around Tenkiller, including a new scuba diving park which features underwater attractions, secure campsites and clean facilities.
For more information call 918-457-4403 or 918-487-5641.
The water at the lake could be labeled as crystal clear, and offers a great view of the buried local history.
Water temperatures can reach as high as 90 degrees in the summer months, and all the way down to the low 30s during the winter.
There is almost 1,400 acres of campground along Tenkiller, in addition to the Upper and Lower Illinois River.
All them are managed by the USACE.
The park’s rangers, the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission and the Corps of Engineers also patrol them 24 hours a day.
Campsites monitored by the USACE are Tenkiller State Park, Blackgum Landing, Cato Creek, Carter’s Landing, Chicken Creek, Cookson Bend, Elk Creek, Horshoe Bend, Petit Bay I and II, Snake Creek, Standing Rock and Strayhorn Landing.
Most of the campgrounds are open year-round. For more information, contact 918-487-5252.
Coming in at nearly 13,000 acres Tenkiller State Park provides ample space for such sports as sailing, water skiing, wakeboarding, innertubing, fishing and jet skiing.
There are several full-service marinas that offer watercraft rentals.
Also, all swimming areas are protected from boats with safety buoy markers.
Fishing for black bass, white bass, striped bass, crappie, catfish, bream and walleye can be done year-round.
During the hot summer months, largemouth bass move to deeper water.
Fishing at night is also popular, due to the heavy day use on the lake.
The most successful areas to catch smallmouth bass are in the upper Illinois River and Baron Fork Creek.
White bass begin to gather during the summer months.
Crappie can be located in deep water during the hot summer months, while catfishing also gains traction during the summer.
A fishing license is required at Tenkiller. A annual hunting-fishing license is $42 and expires the final day of December. It is required for all residents ages 18 to 64, unless exempt.
For more information on obtaining an Oklahoma license visit wildlifedepartment.com.
Tenkiller offers a wide variety of hiking trails and nature viewing areas.
The Tenkiller Valley Recreational area is located in the Cookson Hills of Eastern Oklahoma.
In addition, there is the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge, Cookson County Refuge, Tenkiller State Nature Center, Standing Rock Nature Trail, Buzzard Roost Trail at Cato Creek Landing and the Overlook National Trail at the Tenkiller Dam.