Kaw Lake
Kaw Lake
Kaw Lake recreation

Kaw Lake Recreation

Fishing and Hunting

Kaw Lake offers the outdoor enthusiast an abundance of fishing and hunting opportunities.  The fertile waters of the Arkansas River offer excellent habitat for channel, flathead and blue catfish, crappie, sand bass, walleye and striped bass/white bass hybrids.  The blue catfish fishing in Kaw Lake is some of the best in the nation.  The waters below Kaw Dam provide anglers many opportunities to pursue their favorite species. The waters of the Arkansas River are home to one of the most unique fish on the planet.  The spoonbill catfish or paddle fish is a throwback from prehistoric days.  This filter feeder grows to huge size below Kaw Dam and is a real challenge for eager anglers.  Hunters take to the field in pursuit of white-tailed deer, bobwhite quail, dove, squirrel, rabbit, turkey and pheasant.  Public hunting land around Kaw Lake traditionally produces one of the highest harvest rates of white-tailed deer anywhere in the State of Oklahoma.  Hunting and fishing laws and regulations are enforced by game wardens in the states of Oklahoma and Kansas. 

Camping and Picnicking

Recreation areas around Kaw Lake include boat launching ramps, group camping areas, picnic and camping sites, playgrounds, designated swim beaches, hiking and equestrian trails.  Most campsites have electrical hookups and many have individual water hookups.  Campsites can be reserved by calling  1-877-444-6777 or on-line at www.recreation.gov.  If you just want to come out to Kaw Lake and spend the day, several day use sites are available.  Some of the most popular day use sites are located at Sandy Beach, Kaw Lake’s largest designated swimming area, at the east end of Kaw Dam.  Sandy Beach has some of the best sand beaches this side of Hawaii.  If you have a group that needs a place to go, group picnic shelters are available at McFadden Cove Day Use Area and Pioneer Park. 


Water enthusiasts can enjoy some 17,000 acres of open water in Kaw Lake.  Boating on the lake is in accordance with State boating laws and Corps of Engineers regulations.  Boaters are encouraged to make safety their number one priority when they enjoy Kaw Lake.  Make sure all of the required safety equipment, a life jacket for everyone on the boat, a fire extinguisher, a throwable device, if the boat is longer than 16’, and a horn, whistle or bell to signal other boaters, is on board before you launch.  Remember, It's The Law - Children under 13 years of age must wear an approved PFD (personal flotation device) whenever underway on a vessel less than 26 feet in length.  Always keep an eye on the weather because conditions can change rapidly.  Kaw Lake can get extremely rough quickly.  The best thing you can do to keep yourself safe on Kaw Lake is to wear your life jacket and make sure everyone with you does too. 


Visitors to Kaw Lake will find many sightseeing opportunities within a short driving distance from the lake.  Almost all of the communities in the area have museums that are full of interesting artifacts and memorabilia that tell the story of the rich history of the north central Oklahoma and south central Kansas area.  One “must see” location is the Tall Grass Prairie Preserve located just east of the Kaw Lake area.  This preserve offers visitors the opportunity to see the tall grass prairie ecosystem complete with bison.  Also, the unique habitat around Kaw Lake offers a wide variety of trees, wildflowers and animal species for visitors to watch.  Our location is in the transition zone where east meets west and many plant, animal and bird species from both areas can be seen in the Kaw Lake area.  One of our most popular avian visitors is the American Bald Eagle.  Kaw Lake, traditionally, hosts one of the largest wintering populations of Bald Eagles anywhere in the State of Oklahoma during the winter months. 


Kaw Lake has two exceptional designated swimming areas.  Sandy Beach is located at the east end of Kaw Dam and is part of the Sandy Park Public Use Area and Pioneer Beach is located in the Pioneer Park Public Use Area on the east side of Kaw City.  Both of these areas offer excellent sand beaches and swimmers are encouraged to use these fine facilities.  Swimming is permitted anywhere on the lake except at the boat launching ramps and around the flood control structure at Kaw Dam.  We encourage you to use one of the designated swim beaches but wherever you choose to swim, wear a life jacket.  We hear it a lot, "I’m an excellent swimmer."  Well, a lot of drowning victims were excellent swimmers.  They would still be excellent swimmers if they had worn a life jacket.  Kaw Lake is not a swimming pool.  The lake bottom is not smooth and flat.  Never dive into the water head first.  You don’t know what is under the water. 


Kaw Lake is home to several trails systems.  The Eagle View Trail is located in Osage Cove recreational area with about 2.5 miles of maintained trails with interpretive stations and rest areas scattered along the trail.  The Five Fingers Trail runs south from the Sarge Creek Public Use Area and runs along the rocky hills known to locals as Snake Hill.  Both of these trail systems run through some of the most beautiful areas of Kaw Lake.  Open prairie with wooded draws and bottom lands make hiking, equestrian riding and biking in these areas a real treat.  The trails run through very remote areas so be sure to bring plenty of water with you and wear proper clothing.  Users should be aware that both trails are closed during Oklahoma's deer rifle and primitive firearms seasons.

Osage Cove Trail Map