How Deep Is the Lake of the Ozarks: 5 Incredible Facts about the Lake

© Colton lee garcia/

Written by Nixza Gonzalez

Updated: July 21, 2023

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Infographic about the Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri.
The Lake of the Ozarks is a deep lake in the Ozark Mountains in southern Missouri.

The Lake of the Ozarks is located in Missouri and is an incredible lake. It is in the Ozark Mountains and is absolutely breathtaking. Hundreds and thousands of people visit the mountain each year to take a high view of the river and its many branches.

Interestingly, the Lake of the Ozarks is artificial, but it looks breathtaking! Keep on reading to discover how deep the Lake of the Ozarks is and an additional five incredible facts about the lake.

How Deep Is the Lake of the Ozarks?

The Lake of the Ozarks has a maximum depth of 130 feet.


The Lake of the Ozarks has a maximum depth of 130 feet. The lake’s depth fluctuates depending on where you are looking. Since it is such a deep lake, it is a perfect spot for fishing.

In the deep waters of the Lake of the Ozarks, you can fish for spotted bass, black bass, and largemouth and smallmouth bass. There is also catfish all-year round.

How Long is the Lake of the Ozarks?

The depth of the lake is not the most important part. Something interesting about the Lake of the Ozarks is that it is 93.21 miles long. Its shoreline is even longer at about 1,100 miles long. The bulk of the length of this Missouri lake comes from the Osage Arm, which stretches at least 90 miles.

This large body of water also sits at an elevation of 659 feet and extends into a few major counties and towns along the lake. The volume for the Lake of the Ozarks is 1,927,000 acre-ft.

Where is the Lake of the Ozarks located on a Map?

If you are planning a trip to the Lake of the Ozarks and need help getting there, read on for a detailed description of how to reach this beautiful destination. First and foremost, the Lake of the Ozarks is located in central Missouri in the United States.

If you are driving from outside Missouri, take either I-44 or I-70 towards St. Louis and then head south on US Highway 54 towards Camdenton. From Kansas City, take I-70 East until reaching Kingdom City, where you will turn onto US Highway 54 East.

Once you arrive at Lake of the Ozarks, there are several different towns around its perimeter, including Osage Beach, Sunrise Beach, and Camdenton, which all offer their own unique charm, with restaurants and shopping centers available as well.

5 Interesting Facts About the Lake of the Ozarks

Now that you know the length and depth of the Lake of the Ozarks, are you ready to discover interesting facts? Keep on reading to find out why thousands of people visit this large lake every year!

1. At the bottom of the Lake of the Ozarks is a sunken small town.

During the 1920s, an entire town was submerged underwater with the creation of the dam.


Sitting below the Lake of the Ozarks is the old town of Linn Creek. This town was first created in 1841 and was very prosperous only a decade later because of the steamboat industry. Many people traveled through the town to make it through the Osage River, helping the town grow in population and interest.

The people who once lived in the town were unhappy when they found out that their town was going to be flooded and dammed over to create a new lake with the dam. In just two years, the buildings were knocked down or burnt, except for the town’s old cemetery.

2. Scientists have discovered piranhas living in the water.

Piranha fish underwater

Piranhas are not native to Missouri, yet fishermen have caught some in the Lake of the Ozarks.

©Jinny Jin/

Can you imagine swimming in your favorite lake, only to find flesh-eating and aggressive piranhas? Now, you may be confused as to how piranhas made their way into the Lake of the Ozarks. These large fish are native to the central and southern river systems of South America and not the United States.

While they are not native to Missouri, every few years, at least one or two are found in the water. Some people guess they were abandoned by aquarium owners. Interestingly, the water is said to be too cold for piranhas, yet residents of nearby towns have spotted them in the water for the last thirty years.

3. The Lake of the Ozarks is artificial.

You may have guessed by now, but the Lake of the Ozarks is man-made. In August 1929, the construction of the Bagnell Dam started along the Osage River. It took at least two years to complete and is made with tons of concrete. The Bagnell Dam is a 2,543-foot-long concrete gravity dam created by the Union Electric Light and Power Company of St. Louis.

Truman Lake, Missouri

Truman Lake is the largest man-made lake in Missouri, with a surface area of over 55,000 acres.


4. There are 70,000 docks on the Lake of the Ozarks.

Black bears

Black bears commonly drink and hunt at the Lake of the Ozarks.


The Lake of the Ozarks is an extremely popular fishing spot. There are many fish species in the water and over 70,000 docks to choose from! If you have your own boat, fishing pole, and time, you will love the Lake of the Ozarks.

Even though there is a large fish population, these are not the only animals you can find along the lake and dam. There are a lot of birds, including the red-shouldered hawk. Not only can you find birds, but there are also bald eagles, black bears, beavers, and armadillos that enjoy the waters.

5. The nicknames of the lake are “The Magic Dragon” and “The Missouri Dragon.”

Did you know that the Lake of the Ozarks has multiple well-known nicknames? If you ever visit the towns and counties surrounding the massive lake, you may notice a pattern. Somehow, the artificial lake looks like a dragon or long serpent! Whenever possible, you should visit this stunning lake and see it from high above to spot “the Missouri Dragon.”

Lake of the Ozarks, Osage Beach area of Missouri

The winding, coiled canals of the Ozarks have caused many to liken it to a serpent.

© Spring

Animals that Live Around the Ozarks

The Ozarks are home to many different kinds of fascinating animals despite being a man-made waterway. Among their ranks are the otter, wild turkey, white-tailed deer, collared lizards, scorpions, tarantulas, and black bears. These lakes are a favorite spot for local fishermen as well, with the waters being renowned for their wide array of species to reel in.

Black bass, bluegills, crappies, spoonbills, stripers, and largemouth bass are amongst the species of fish caught by anglers on the Ozarks each year. The Ozarks are a popular destination for both sports fishermen and those only looking to catch a bite to eat. The largest fish caught in the lakes of the Ozarks was a 140-pound paddlefish in 2022. There’s no telling how many more elusive giants could be lurking beneath the surface.

An American Paddlefish swimming

This paddlefish is considerably smaller than the one caught by angler Jim Dain in the Lakes of the Ozarks.

©Marina Veder/

Is It Safe to Swim in the Ozarks

Massive paddlefishes and rogue piranhas may seem like sea monsters to those unfamiliar with the Ozarks, but locals will assure you that the water is fine! The piranhas are more than likely just abandoned pets, and through thirty years of sightings have never built up a significant local population. Paddlefishes, while sometimes intimidating in their size and appearance, are no cause for alarm. Their large “paddle” is equipped with thousands of receptors for detecting nearby plankton to consume.

Even though the Ozarks can reach incredibly low depths at points, there is no shortage of shallower waters that make wonderful retreats for recreation. Jet skiing, kayaking, canoeing, and scuba diving are all popular pastimes, offering a variety of ways to enjoy the beauty of the “Show Me” State’s expansive lakes. Nearby you can also find hiking trails and camping sites home to hundreds of more breathtaking views of nature, including springs and rivers for those overwhelmed by the size of the Ozarks who still are seeking a beautiful place to cool off.

Just off the coast of the Ozarks, you can find many other natural attractions.

© Kopka

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About the Author

Nixza Gonzalez is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering topics like travel, geography, plants, and marine animals. She has over six years of experience as a content writer and holds an Associate of Arts Degree. A resident of Florida, Nixza loves spending time outdoors exploring state parks and tending to her container garden.

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