Discover the Deepest Lake in Oklahoma

Written by Kaleigh Moore
Updated: July 27, 2023
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Key Points:

  • Broken Bow Lake is Oklahoma’s deepest lake, with a maximum depth of around 185 feet.
  • It is an artificial reservoir formed at the mouth of the Mountain Fork River.
  • Stretching about 22 miles into the Ouachita Mountains, the lake covers the deep valley and hilly region, with an average depth of around 62 feet.

Oklahoma is home to several lakes most of which are artificial. It has a serene, laid-back charm with its greenery and amazing landscapes.

Many state residents have a lake within driving distance to go on excursions and enjoy the best of nature. The lakes are surrounded by a picturesque landscape of forests, hills, and mountains, making them the perfect location for a quick getaway.

Which is the deepest lake among them? Where is it located? What activities can you do there? Let’s explore the deepest lake in the state and a few juicy facts about it.

With a maximum depth of approximately 185 feet, Broken Bow Lake claims the title of Oklahoma’s deepest lake.

What is the Deepest Lake in Oklahoma?

Broken Bow Lake is the deepest lake in Oklahoma. The lake is a reservoir at the mouth of the Mountain Fork River. This means that it is an artificial lake. It stretches for about 22 miles, or 35 kilometers, back into the Ouachita Mountains countryside, covering the deep valley and hilly area. The deepest point of Broken Bow Lake is about 185 feet. However, the average depth is about 62 feet or 19 meters.

Broken Bow Lake has a surface area of 5,700 hectares (about 14,000 acres). The lake reservoir holds 1,971.1 million cubic meters of water. Its shoreline extends about 290 kilometers (180 miles). Much of the coastline borders forests and trails, making it a perfect getaway location for outdoor adventure. The lake is famous for its still, crystal-blue waters, complementing the greenery and cool breeze from the surrounding forests.

This scenic lake is located in southeast Oklahoma, nine miles northeast of a town with the same name. However, the nearest town is Hochatown, a tourist city known for its beautiful parks. Broken Bow town is located at Oklahoma’s borders with Arkansas and Texas. The lake is a three-hour drive from the city of Dallas. Nature lovers in the three states have a lovely opportunity to experience the beauty of this area.

An image of the Broken Bow lake .

Broken Bow Lake is Oklahoma’s deepest lake, reaching a depth of 185 feet.


The History of Broken Bow Lake

The area around Broken Bow was historically part of Hochatown. Choctaw Indians had inhabited it since the early 1800s. The site was then incorporated into Bok Tuklo County. The area gained the name Broken Bow from two Dierk brothers, renowned loggers. They were part of the larger timber production industry the area is known for.

The Flood Control Act of 1958 formed Broken Bow Lake. The state Senate authorized the construction of the lake to control flooding downstream. It joined a list of over 200 artificial lakes in the state, including Texoma, Eufaula, Tenkiller Ferry, FoReseivoir, and Saddis Lakes.

The vast expanse of Broken Bow Lake was born in 1970, but its story began much earlier. In 1961, construction began on a massive reservoir to contain the mighty Mountain Fork River. The natural valley in the area made it the perfect place for a lake; with its rising waters came newfound prospects for electricity generation. 

By January of 1970, the first hydroelectric power generation unit was already in place, and just three months after, the second arrived. Today, this remarkable lake produces around 100 MW of electricity – a tremendous energy conservation and production achievement. With its waters comes a promise of a better future – one where we can balance progress and preservation for future generations.

 Animals Around Broken Bow Lake

If you love watching wildlife and being outdoors, the Broken Bow Lake ecosystem supports several animal and plant species that you should check out. Wildlife abounds in Broken Bow Lake and its surrounding shores, from the white-tailed deer to the industrious beavers. 

Anglers flock to take advantage of the plentiful game fish available. Birdwatchers are captivated by the incredible avian species that soar above the lake, including pelicans, herons, and egrets. 

Aquatic Life At Broken Bow

Several fish species live in the calm waters of Broken Bow Lake. They include sunfish, smallmouth and largemouth bass, bluegill, spotted bass, and crappie. Other local species may lurk around, such as hybrid striped catfish, flathead catfish, bullheads, northern pike, and shovelnose sturgeon. This freshwater lake can support all types of freshwater fish that live in the surrounding environment, although the above list presents the most popular species.

Authorities have set up a designated trout fishing area just below the dam. The main species of fish in this area are brown and rainbow trout. Visitors are allowed to visit and engage in sport fishing all year round. Those coming for fishing can always hire fishing gear and boats at establishments across the shoreline. Nothing beats the incredible feeling of hauling in a massive catch after several attempts at fishing!

Smallmouth bass in stream Broken Bow  Oklahoma.

Several fish species can be found in Broken Bow, Oklahoma including smallmouth bass.

©Maclane Parker/

Wildlife Around Broken Bow

Broken Bow Lake is surrounded by greenery and forests. The area attracts most highland wildlife species that live in colder zones. They include elk, white-tailed deer, turkeys, bobcats, coyotes, and rabbits. You can also catch a glimpse of wood ducks, waterfowls, or raccoons moving in groups near the shoreline.

There are bears in the area. However, they are few and infrequent. You would be lucky to find one in the lake’s woodlands. For bird lovers, the area is home to over 100 species. They come in different colors and plumage. Check the place for such birds as the peculiar purple gallinule, the brown-headed nuthatch, and the cheeky spotted red-cockaded woodpecker.

A few animals cross the numerous trails located around the area. Have a camera ready to capture incredible photos of them while hiking. However, keep a safe distance and give them the right of way. Wild animals are unpredictable and may be veracious when they feel threatened or attacked.

Flora in the Area

Many of the forested zones around the lake are virgin lands. So, most of the trees are in their natural habitat. This contributes to the overall beauty of the area. The Broken Bow Lake area is one of the few with virgin shortleaf pine forests. The area also has black and sweet gums, elms, and red maples. Other hardwood varieties include hickory, red and white oak, wildflowers, and shrubs.

Many outdoor lovers also come here to enjoy the splash of blooming flowers. The best time for this is April to the end of June and mid-October to the end of December. Everything around you is green in this period, with flowers on the horizon. The scenery is refreshing!

Broken Bow Lake Oklahoma

Broken Bow Lake is one of the few areas with virgin shortleaf pine forests.


Can You Hunt Animals in This Area?

Oklahoma State allows for fishing and hunting in specific areas of the ecosystem. However, you must meet specific federal wildlife regulations.

You will need a hunting license. You can apply for it at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODOWC). When filling out the application form select the right option when asked if you are a state resident.

The local authority welcomes the public to hunt on all Corps land, apart from the areas designated for recreational activities or around dams.

When you meet these qualifications, check specific hunting seasons for given animals. For deer hunting lovers, the best archery season is between October and mid-January. Those looking for whitetails have the best luck between mid-November and the second week of December. Turkey hunting enthusiasts may hunt from October to mid-January.

When hunting, always respect the environment. Dispose of trash properly, and be careful when approaching animals. In addition, respect other visitors to the park and always practice gun safety. Have a happy hunting season!

Things to Do Around Broken Bow Lake

Visitors can do several activities in the Broken Bow Lake area. There is something for water and wildlife lovers that attracts them in their thousands to the area. Let’s explore each activity in detail.

Fishing in the Lake

Broken Bow Lake is home to over a dozen fish species. The Mountain Fork River also has many more species. You can fish all year round while enjoying the scenic environment around you. The lake’s crystal-clear waters make it a great location to find, bait, and catch fish relatively quickly, whether at the shoreline or on a boat.

Catch-and-release fishing is the most popular adventure on these waters. Many of the visitors use baited fishing reels to get their prize. The USACE allows for motor trolling. However, it should have a single hook, lure, or bait per angler. You can only have three lures per boat. Ready to roll? Grab your fishing gear and come for an exciting excursion at the lake. You will walk back home with lifetime memories.

Boating in the Lake

There are fantastic boating opportunities at the northern and southern parts of the lake. The lake’s clear waters allow you to see up to six feet below the surface. You will find all types of private boats there for your adventure. You can rent boats such as houseboats, tubes, jet skis, and party barges for your experience. There are several rental businesses in the area with these options.

You can also participate in kayaking, canoeing, tubing, and paddle boating. Some organizations take visitors on guided river and lake tours if you do not want to do it yourself. If you own a boat, you can bring it to the lake. You can also have it repaired, polished, or even sold if you should desire it on your behalf along the shoreline.

Hiking Near the Lake

There are unique hiking locations around Broken Bow Lake. The forested area around the lake offers unique hiking experiences for walking and horseback riding. The adjacent Beavers Bend State Park alone has 12 public hiking trail loops. You can choose the ideal trail based on your skill level and distance. They range from about a mile long to over 26 miles and are divided into easy, moderate, and challenging skill levels.

Hiking is also an excellent activity for visiting the location to watch birds and wildlife. These trails snake around dense forests and elevate areas where you can capture terrific images of flora and fauna in their natural settings. Come with your camera ready for action.

Mountain Fork River at Beaver's Bend State Park

Beaver’s Bend State Park offers unique hiking experiences.

©Silvio Ligutti/

Hiking Zones at Broken Bow Lake

There are two hiking zones at Broken Bow Lake: east and west. The western area is open to the public and does not need a special license. However, you must have any of the following:

  • A valid Oklahoma fishing license
  • Oklahoma hunting license
  • An annual wildlife conservation passport

However, the east side requires a license issued by the local area biologist. You must secure the permit at least two weeks before the arrival date. This area offers some exclusivity and is generally quieter than the west side. If you wish for a moment to connect with nature, this is the ideal location to visit.

Other Things to Do in the Area

You can partake in tons of exciting activities in the area beyond hiking and fishing. Here are a few:

  • Hang out at the Forest Heritage Center within the Beavers Bend State Park. It has an amphitheater, a grocery, a gift shop, and many restaurants. Here, you can enjoy various cuisines or cool down with a beer.
  • Tee off at the Cedar Creek Golf Course within the park. As you may have guessed, this golf course is ultimately one of the most beautiful, with all the greenery and relaxed atmosphere. It features 18 holes at par 72, tees and fairways, Bermuda grass greens, a putting green, a gift shop with cart and club rentals, and a driving range,
  • Visit the Hochatown Petting Zoo. It allows you to meet and pet barn animals, listen to exotic birds sing, and pamper pet-friendly reptiles. You get to walk with baby ducks and proud guinea pigs and rush off with a soft goat.
  • Other activities include go-karts, boat tours, zipline, mini golf, and bowling. 

What Is the Weather Around Broken Bow Lake Like?

The Broken Bow area experiences hot and muggy summers. Its winters are wet and cold but short. The area is partly cloudy all year. Average temperatures are between 34 and 94 degrees Fahrenheit, making the area a perfect outdoor destination year-round. Consider visiting the lake between mid-April and the end of June and from mid-August to late October when it’s warm and dry.

The average rainfall for the area is 54 inches a year, and a whopping 218 days of sunshine. January is generally the coldest month at below 28 degrees Fahrenheit. On the other hand, July is the hottest month, with temperatures of over 92 degrees Fahrenheit.

A photo of the Broken Bow lake from an overpass.

The Broken Bow area experiences hot and muggy summers.

©James Reeves/

The Deepest Lake in Oklahoma Has It All

Broken Bow Lake is the deepest lake in Oklahoma. An artificial water body near Hochatown gets its water from the Mountain Fork River. The expansive lake hosts several fish species and is surrounded by dense, protected forests. Broken Bow Lake also produces 100 MW of electricity and prevents flooding downstream.

You can partake in various activities in and around the lake, including fishing, hiking, boating, and animal and bird watching. Several vacation hotspots, a zoo, and other entertainment joints are also around the lake. Hunting in the area is allowed with a special license. It is a perfect outdoor location.

From its fishing opportunities to its majestic landscape, Broken Bow Lake stands as a testament to the power of Oklahoma’s natural beauty and the human ability to create something remarkable that will impact future generations.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Kit Leong/

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