If your image of Oklahoma is tied to John Steinbeck and the legendary dust bowl, think again. Here, still waters run deep and wide. “A large part of the state is heavily forested, with lots of lakes,” says John McClenny, director of parks and recreation for the city of Stillwater. “Three of ours are quite nice.” Stillwater has three prominent lakes: Lake McMurtry, Lake Carl Blackwell and Boomer Lake.
Lake McMurtry is the crown jewel, offering fishing, boating, skiing and other water sports geared toward the family. Some 27 miles of trails provide ample opportunity for hiking and biking. Camping is available at tent sites or in RV areas equipped with access to electricity and water. The acreage includes 1,300 acres of water surrounded by 2,100 acres of land. The lake attracts people from throughout the region and brings in $80,000 in fees annually to the city, McClenny says. “People come mainly on the weekends,” says Roger Bastion, lake supervisor. “Fishing is good in the spring.” The Stillwater Rifle and Gun Club holds events here, and some cycling events are scheduled annually.
Lake Carl Blackwell
At 3,350 acres, Lake Carl Blackwell attracts people interested in swimming, fishing, boating, skiing and sailing. The surrounding 800 acres of land is ideal for horseback riding, camping, hiking and hunting. The lake, owned by Oklahoma State University, also has a big equestrian following.
Boomer Lake, three miles around and located in town, is popular thanks to a major renovation in the 1990s when the city drained and deepened the lake, rebuilt the dam and added breakwater jetties to deal with heavy winds. “We used to joke it was too thick to drink and too thin to plow,” McClenny says. “That’s not the case now. Boomer Lake is definitely premier. We put a lot of effort into it.” The lake water is used to cool the city’s power plant as well as for recreation. Residents of Stillwater enjoy the Boomer Blast!, held July 4, and an annual boat race. The city also promotes biking and walking at the lake.
Check out more recreation opportunities in Stillwater, OK.