Skiatook Lake is located on Highway 20, 4 miles west of the town of Skiatook and 11 miles east of Hominy, Oklahoma, about an hour’s drive from Tulsa. This beautiful lake is surrounded by gently rolling hills of Blackjack, Post Oak, and Tallgrass meadows.
Skiatook Lake has an area of approximately 10,500 acres and 160 miles of shoreline. The winding coastline is highlighted by steep, picturesque cliffs that offer spectacular views.
Skiatook City came into being in the late 1880s. There are conflicting historical records as to where the name Skiatook came from. One story says that the city was founded on land that was home to a prominent Osage Indian named Skiatooka. They called the community around his house Skiatooka Settlement. There is another story that the name was taken from Ski-A-Took, which is a Cherokee word meaning “big Indian self” or describing a large man or a large tract of land.
But what is generally accepted is that Cherokee Chief William C. Rogers founded Skiatook when he established a trading post on the Cherokee Nation located south of Bird Creek. Skiatooka, the Osage Indian, was a frequent trader at the post, which may be why his name was connected to the name of the town.
A road to Tulsa was paved in the early 1920s. With good roads leading in all directions, Skiatook became known as the gateway to all points north, south, east, and west. Skiatook began purchasing water from the Spavinaw in the 1930s, but when Skiatook Lake was finally completed in 1984, Skiatook had its own water source. Records show that the town of Skiatook has grown steadily since its beginnings in the 1880s. The population has increased 93% since 1990.
On October 23, 1962, the Flood Control Act was passed by the 87th Congress. This authorized the construction of the Skiatook Dam and Lake. It is one of five projects in the Bird Creek Basin plan. These projects were recommended to meet the comprehensive water needs within the area. The purpose of the construction of the Skiatook Dam and Lake was for flood control, water supply, recreation, and fish and wildlife management. When the project was completed on October 31, 1984, its total cost was $120 million.
The dam is a rolled earth embankment that is 3,590 feet long, including the spillway. It rises 143 feet above the river bed. The embankment has a crown width of 32 feet. The uncontrolled spillway consists of a concrete sill on the right abutment. The bottom of the spillway is 100 feet wide and its top elevation is 732.0 and it has a design capacity of 21,700 cfs. The impulsion works include a gate tower with selective intakes; a 10.5-foot conduit tunneled through the right pier served by two 4.67-by-10.5-story low-flow locks and a 36-inch water supply pipe.
Skiatook Lake offers many opportunities for outdoor recreation, including:
- Boating and Sailing You can go power boating on Skiatook Lake. Boaters can explore the islands and coves that have natural rock outcroppings. There are secluded areas where people can have family outings. Boaters can launch from public boat ramps or rent boats at the lake’s two marinas. The lake also has deep shorelines that give sailboats the ability to make the most of the available surface area of the lake. The winds come from the south or north and this gives the boats the ability to go up and down the length of the lake. Wave heights are also minimized.
- Swimming The water is clean and clear, making it safe for swimmers.
- Camping and Picnic There are several camping areas on the lake that visitors can choose from. The most popular is Tall Chief Cove. The campsites at Twin Points and Tall Chief Cove have water and electricity. Also Crystal Bay Marina, which is located on a point overlooking the lake. Bull Creek Peninsula has campsites that are more primitive. The same goes for Armadillo Island. Stony Ridge Campground, located near the dam on Highway 20, can accommodate RV campers.
- Hiking There are hiking trails located in the Skiatook Lake Wildlife Management areas.
- Hunt The shoreline surrounding Skiatook Lake is controlled by the US Army Corps of Engineers. It is the habitat of different types of wildlife such as squirrels, rabbits, deer, some coyotes, quail, ducks, and other native bird species. There are approximately 8,000 acres of land open to all hunters (according to state and federal hunting regulations) at different times of the year.
- To fish Skiatook Lake is well known for providing one of the best bass fishing experiences in the country. Bass anglers are always rewarded for their efforts, whether they fish the main body of the lake or the lake flats. The water is clean and clear year-round because there are no runoff from farmland, waste, or chemicals. In addition, the discharges of water through the dam maintain the quality of the water downstream and improve certain types of fishing. Skiatook Lake is always in perfect ecological balance. Very little of the land was cleared when Skiatook Lake was formed. Many of the trees were left standing in most of the coves. This provided good fish habitat as well as privacy for bass anglers. The lake hosts various fishing tournaments throughout the year. Skiatook Lake is becoming a hot spot for smallmouth bass. Tournament records have shown that bass anglers catch smallmouth bass weighing up to five pounds. Other sport fish include largemouth bass, black and white crappie, channel catfish, flathead catfish, blue catfish, bluegill, carp, lake perch, and others.
Skiatook Lake is a pristine body of water that is a paradise for fish and nature lovers, especially bass anglers. It is perfect for people who want to commune with nature. So if you want to relax for a few days or more, come and visit Skiatook Lake in Oklahoma.