Are you ready to plan a trip to one of the best lakes in Oklahoma?  Perfect, let’s explore one of the lakes near Tulsa.  The Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees is the perfect location to boat, swim, or even plan a family reunion

Let’s start with the name “Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees or Grand Lake of the Cherokees?

Well, it is actually Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees but is also referred to as just Grand Lake in Oklahoma. 

This lake is situated in Northeast Oklahoma near the Ozark Mountain Range.  It is a beautiful area and a perfect place to spend a weekend in Oklahoma.

Let’s explore all the things to do at the Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees!

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Map from Tulsa to Grand Lake O the Cherokee
Branson to Grand Lake O'the Cherokee

Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees is located about an hour and a half from Tulsa, Oklahoma and about two and a half hours from Branson, Missouri Fayetteville, AR is less than two hours away as well. 

It is located on the land of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.  

History and Facts About The Grand Lakes O' the Cherokees

Grand Lake O the Cherokee

Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees is man made, as are almost all 203 lakes in Oklahoma.  Grand Lake was formed when the Pensacola Dam was built in 1940.  It was made to be used as a power source. It still produces electricity at a extremely low cost. 

The Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees stretches out for 66 miles.  It is 164 feet deep making it the third deepest lake in Oklahoma.  

Fun Fact

Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees is a great location for a family reunion.  I would plan about 3-4 days.  

Where to Stay Near Grand Lake O' the Cherokees?

Places to Stay near Grand Lake O' the Cherokee

There are so many nice vacation rentals near Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees.  We rented a VRBO right on the lake.  The view was unbelievable! (be sure to search Grand Life to see where we stayed) 


One thing that is very nice about most accommodations near Grand Lake is that they have private docks.  This makes it perfect if you want to bring your boat.  At the lake house we rented you could also rent a boat.  This was very convenient. 

Hot Tip

Grand Lake O' the Cherokees Dock

Make sure your lake house has a boat dock.  It will make your life so much easier! 


The Shangri-La Resort is located on Monkey Island, right on the Grand Lake.  It is a luxury lakeside resort. There are some amazing amenities such as: lakeside cabanas, splash pad, and golf course.  The gym and pool are amazing. This is a great accommodation option at the Grand Lake.

Camping at the Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees

Cherokee State Park

There are camping sites all along the lake.  Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees State Park has sites for both tents and RV’s. There is also a boat ramp and swimming area within the park.  The Grand Lake in Oklahoma has over 1300 miles of shoreline, so you can imagine that there are many, many places to camp.  

Rent an RV

Grand Lake O the Cherokees Camping sites

There are a lot of RV camp sites near Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees.  You can rent an RV or bring your own. 

Rent an RV from RVshare

Fun Fact

Disney Oklahoma


Disney, Oklahoma is located near Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees.  Yes, that is right there is another Disney and you probably would have never guessed it was near the Grand Lake in Oklahoma! 

Things to Do on the Grand Lake O' the Cherokees

Boat on at the dock of the Grand Lake O' the Cherokee

The number one thing to do on the Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees is go boating.  

If you do not own a boat you can easily rent a boat.  However, the boats we rented were a little older, but on the bright side they were also less expensive than other boats we have rented. 

Tube or Ski

Tubing on the Grand Lake O' the Cherokee

There is so much space to have a lot of fun skiing or tubing.  One thing we noticed is if one area of the lake is choppy you could drive to the other side and it could be as smooth as glass.  

There are many coves that are great for tubing or skiing. 

Take a Ride

Jet ski on Grand Lake In Oklahoma

Because Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees is huge you can explore and explore some more.  We enjoyed cruising along the lake.

We drove the boat for 45 minutes in one direction at a fast pace.  This did not bring us anywhere close to the end of the lake.  I think taking a ride in a boat is super relaxing. You can just take a nap! 

Get A Snow Cone

Snow Cone Stand on the Grand L:ake O'the Cherokee

Guess what?!  You can get a snow cone right on the lake.  There are gas stations located on the lake.  When you go to fill up be sure to grab a snow cone.  At one stop, free otter pops were given to all my kids.  

Cliff Jump at Dripping Springs

Cliff Jumping at the Grand Lake O' the Cherokee

Do you love cliff jumping? You can drive your boat to the Dripping Springs Cove. This area has great cliff jumping.  There are docks where you can park your boat.  Once you are ready you can climb up the cliff and jump off.

If you are afraid of heights, don’t worry there is a lower area you can jump from.  

Hot Tip

I have two tips for you.

  1. You will want to make sure you have water shoes because there are some jagged rocks as you climb up the cliff.  
  2.  Also, be careful driving into the cove. It is a very popular area, so be prepared because it can be really busy!  


What Should I Bring to Grand Lake O' the Cherokees?

Things to do at grand Lake O the Cherokee

As you plan your lake trip, it is so nice to be prepared.  There are a few items you will want to bring on your trip:  

Can I Swim at The Grand Lake O' the Cherokees?

Swimming at the Grand Lake O the Cherokee

Yes, you can swim at the Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees.  There are actually designated spots that are roped off specifically for swimming.  At certain locations, like Grand Lake State Park, they even provide life jackets for you to use.  

If you are boating you can pull over into a nice cove and swim.  

Things to Do Near Grand Lake O' the Cherokees

Things to do near the Grand Lake O the Cherokee

If you want to take a break from boating and explore the area there are some fun sites to check out.  

Tour the Pensacola Dam

Pensacola Dam near the Grand Lake in Oklahoma


The Pensacola Dam was built in 1940. It is one of the longest multi-arch dams in the world.  Tours are given during the summer months.

The tour is located in Langley, Oklahoma


 Tours are daily from 9:00 am – 4:00pm

Off – Road  Adventure – ATV/UTV/Jeep

Off-roading at Pensacola Dam near Grand Lake in Oklahoma

There is a great place to go off-roading located near the lake. Rock formations are accessible to off-road on. Wooded trails are also an option. There is a little stream you can cross.  This area is beyond the dam in Disney, Oklahoma.

Car Museum

Car museum near Grand Lake O the Cherokee

We decided to go check out the Rod and Custom Car Museum located in Afton, Oklahoma

It is a very small museum. We only needed about 30 minutes to explore.  It was good to get the kids out of the house. 


Adults: $6-$12 

Har-Ber Village

har ber village

Image courtesy of Har-Ber Village

Har-Ber Village is a historic outdoor museum. It is located in Grove, Oklahoma.  There is a lot to explore.


Adults: $10

Children (7-17): $5


Thursday – Monday 9:00 am – 3:30 pm

There is a 3/4 mile nature trail that is paved.  It is a scenic walk that leads to a beautiful view of the Grand Lake in Oklahoma. 

Riverboat Tour of the Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees

The Cherokee Queen Riverboat is locally owned and operated.  It is located in Grove, Oklahoma. Tours of the lake are available daily.   It is a historic boat built in the 1940’s. 


Tickets are around $10

Places to Eat Near Grand Lake O' the Cherokees

Places to eat near the Grand Lake O' the Cherokee

Grand Lake in Oklahoma is pretty secluded.  There are small towns located nearby but for the most part it is in the country.  

We decided to cook most of our food at our lake house rental.  There are however a few restaurants located near the lake.  The Summit Restaurant at Sangri-La, The Artichoke, and The Parrott Steakhouse and Grill are some great options if you want to eat out.

We drove to Paulie’s Donuts in Pryor, Oklahoma because of the awesome reviews online.  We were not disappointed.  These donuts were fabulous.  They also hooked us up with a great deal!  I would highly recommend going if you are in the area! 

Are You Ready to Go to the Grand Lake O' the Cherokees

Grand Lake O the Cherokee

Hopefully this helps you plan your lake trip to the Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees! This area is so beautiful! There are lots of fun activities to do and sites to explore.  We loved spending time on the lake and also spending time with family.  

Facebook Community

If you have any questions join my Facebook Travel  Community.  You can ask any questions you have about upcoming trips and everyone is happy to help you plan your trip.  I also try to give exclusive travel deals that companies send me.  It is a great group to join!