Nichols Lake
Thumbnail version of Henryetta Kayaking Photograph by Thomas P Jones
Henryetta, Oklahoma Kayaking






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Map of Dripping Springs Lake State Park (PDF)


Deep Fork River Bridge at Nuyaka
Deep Fork River

Dripping Springs State Park
16830 Dripping Springs Rd
Okmulgee, OK 74447
Phone: 918-756-5971

Kayaking from Grave Creek to Lake Eufaula









Okmulgee County Oklahoma Paddling

Dripping Springs Lake offers old drowning trees for paddling around.Although there are no places to rent a kayak near Okmulgee, Oklahoma.   Okmulgee county does have a few fine spots for flatwater paddlers to enjoy.  There are two large lakes just outside of the city of Okmulgee: Dripping Springs and Lake Okmulgee. Both lakes allow kayaking and there is a narrow little flatwater canal between them that is just wonderful for kayaking it is called Salt Creek. Lake Eufaula is about 45 minutes away, the KOA near Checotah, Oklahoma offers kayak rental. There is also a brand new Holiday Inn Express right on Highway 75 near the Creek Nation Complex.

With reservoir lakes in Oklahoma, the best flatwater paddling if often found by kayaking up or down the small sheltered creeks that feed the lakes.  If you don't find it beautifully scenic, try arriving near sunrise or sunset.  While kayaking on Okmulgee Lake watch out for ski boats.  For kayaking at Dripping Springs Lake watch out for Bass Boats and barely submerged trees.  I prefer Okmulgee Lake for sunrises and Dripping Springs Lake for sunsets...your mileage may vary. Check out the Deep Fork River, if kayak fishing for catfish catches your fancy. Two scenic lakes to enjoy, no city permits required!

Okmulgee Area Kayaking & Canoeing Spots

Deep Fork Wildlife Refuge

Deep Fork Wildlife Refuge off Hwy 75 near Okmulgee, OK 74447.  Click to see larger Hi Rez version.Head out of Okmulgee South on Highway 75 a short distance and you will find a parking area for the Deep Fork River Wildlife Refuge (DFWR). The refuge actually offers several parking areas, but this one is visible from the highway on the East side.

This water-feature is only a tiny drainage pond, but kayaking is allowed.   This makes it a great spot to paddle out early and photograph the rising sun, reeds and waterfowl.  It sports a small dock, some herons, geese, whitetail deer and other natural attractions for kayak photography. I launch from the grassy shore rather than dragging my boat to the dock.

New Beggs Lake

Lily Pads on New Beggs Lake in the Summer in Beggs, Oklahoma.New Beggs Lake is a small, fairly shallow lake that only allows non-motorized boats.  This makes for shady, quiet, peaceful paddling right off Highway 75 & Highway 16 near Beggs, Oklahoma.  More pictures and details on our New Beggs Lake kayaking page.

In my mind I classify local reservoir lakes like these as either sunrise lakes or sunset lakes for the purpose of kayak photography. The rating is totally subjective and mostly BS because great sunrise and sunsets are more a factor of weather than anything else.

In my humble opinion, New Beggs Lake is a sunrise lake. Your mileage may vary.


Dripping Springs Lake Kayaking Trip Report

April 5, 2008 near Okmulgee, OK.

Saturday's nice weather was too good to pass up.  However, Dianne wanted to be home in time to watch the basketball finals. This called for close-to-home paddling, so we headed out to our old standby, Dripping Springs Lake. Conditions looked good for some wild mushroom hunting, but I didn't have any luck.

Dianne brought the Pocket Fisherman from Ronco that she got for Christmas. The Pocket Fisherman's short design makes it easy to rig up and cast from the kayak. Sadly, she didn't catch any fish so the testing will have to continue before we can recommend trading in your Zebco.Dianne Kayaking Through Redbud Blooms on Dripping Springs Lake

Although there were some folks out there RV'ing, there are still loads of great camping spots open at Dripping Springs Lake.  Excellent, level cement RV spots with full utilities abound here at Dripping Springs State Park.  Normally, we put our two kayaks in at Clovis Point and paddle South and then East toward Salt Creek, a small creek that feeds the lake on its southeastern side.

This time we paddled due West from Clovis Point. There is another small feeder creek that slithers through the woods for about half a mile on the northwestern side of the Dripping Springs Lake. It is so narrow that the water is still even when the waves are pretty high on the bigger part of lake.

Lake Okmulgee is Right Next Door

Sunset over Lake Okmulgee - taken while kayaking near Okmulgee, OklahomaThe next day was too windy to get much joy from lake paddling.  Dianne and I drove around most of the day checking out new paddling spots around  Onapa, OK.  Luckily, the weather forecast called for a calming of the winds right around sunset.  So, we also made a quick trip out to Lake Okmulgee, which is right next to Dripping Springs Lake.  Locally known as 'The Old Lake', the big old flat lake is popular with water skiers and offers OK camping facilities, many of WPA origin.

I often paddle Lower Salt Creek, a nice bit of flatwater that offers about 2 miles (one way) of paddling before dumping you into Lake Okmulgee.  This time we pulled over at one of the primitive, unpaved areas on the eastern side of Lake Okmulgee.  Just as forecast, the wind settled down and I enjoyed a couple hours of sweet sunset kayaking. 

Whenever you are kayaking on Lake Okmulgee or Dripping Springs Lake, keep an eye out for birds diving into the water.  Osprey and Bald Eagles are fairly common here and they offer a special treat for kayak photographers.  The last time I was there I caught a couple fun shots of an Oklahoma man kayak fishing and an Oklahoma Osprey fishing on Okmulgee Lake.

You can also access the Deep Fork River in a number of places near Okmulgee, Oklahoma including a new public boat ramp located on Hwy 266 between Dewar and Grayson.

Paddling the Deep Fork River from the New Highway 266 Bridge

Excellent Kayak Launch Point Between Dewar and Grayson

There is a nice road leading underneath the new Deep Fork River bridge on Highway 266 between Dewar and Grayson, Oklahoma. You can park a good distance off the highway, yet close to the water. We were able to easily launch kayaks from under the new bridge and paddle either way for quite a distance! Although it is quite curvy, the river channel is both deep and wide here and not nearly as clogged up with logjams as most of the Deep Fork River. Deep Fork is home to some very large catfish, so choose your tackle accordingly. Dianne has been having a blast kayak fishing for catfish in this location.  Check out our Kayak Fishing page for details on how she uses her kayak to catch loads of taste Blue Catfish. We also have a Deep Fork River page if you want to learn more about that muddy red river.  Judt a few miles on highway 266 past the Deep Fork River will take you to the Grave Creek boat ramp for Lake Eufaula...another awesome paddling spot.

If you want real maps, there is a list of links to local kayaking put-ins for our part of Oklahoma in the left hand column of this page.

Lower Salt Creek

In my humble opinion, this portion Salt Creek offers the best flatwater, no-current, paddling in Okmulgee County. Visit our Salt Creek Paddling page for detailed directions for float trips.

Lower Salt Creek offers plenty of shade, still waters on a windy day, herons, osprey and other waterfowl all in a long no-wake zone far from the boat racers and jet ski hazards of Lake Okmulgee. Other advantages include plentiful camping and RV facilities at Dripping Springs Lake and Lake Okmulgee and a well paved road that leads to the put-in. Expect to see plenty of beautiful whitetail deer on the road at twilight. We even did a little bit of night-lining for catfish here since the paddling is SO safe.

This is a great spot to canoe or kayak, especially for newcomers to the sport or kayak photographers looking for glassy conditions to take reflection shots. (View Our Salt Creek Kayaking Slideshow)

Kayaking Lower Salt Creek near Okmulgee OK

Upper Salt Creek - Eagles in Okmulgee

Bald Eagles Flying over Dripping Springs Lake near Okmulgee, OklahomaRecently, Greg and I set out to paddle the upper portion of Salt Creek near Okmulgee, Oklahoma. As you may recall, I've been paddling the lower portion of this creek quite a bit lately. The upper portion of Salt Creek feeds Dripping Springs Lake. The creek comes into Dripping Springs Lake from the southeastern corner. The closest way that I know of to reach it is to paddle southeast from the fishing dock at Clovis Point. You have to cross more of the lake than I would prefer to paddle this little tributary, but once you reach the creek there is some lovely, well-sheltered, flatwater paddling.

The fall color is starting to really dress up the area. Also, the reduced lake traffic of this season has resulted more wildlife visibility. Greg and I saw loads of ducks, cranes and turtles, but the highlight of the trip was seeing two mature Bald Eagles!

These were the first Bald Eagles I have ever seen in Okmulgee County and the first time I have ever seen two interacting with one another. They entertained us for about 15 minutes with their awesome and inspiring airborne antics. It was glorious to behold, but sadly I was too dumbfounded to get any pictures worthy of uploading. I hope Greg had better luck. Thankfully, the 12x Zoom on my Panasonic DMC-FZ8K did allow my to capture shots good enough to show Dianne the Eagles we saw.

Greg had his Advanced Elements kayak loaded for bear with: a fish finder, rod holders, tackle box...the works. He caught a nice little bass at the entrance to Upper Salt Creek. As usual, I was too lazy to even attempt fishing. Now that I have spotted both Ospreys and Eagles on this lake, I am even less likely to do any fishing in the area. I'll be too busy hunting with my Panasonic FZ8!

Paddling to the creek can be a little scary, if you have never paddled Dripping Springs Lake before. The lake is a fairly new one, so it is still full of old drowned tree trunks, stumps and stuff. When paddling this water you WILL definitely paddle over some of these stumps unexpectedly. Be warned, but be calm and most importantly be prepared. Paddling this water without a PFD is just plain stupid, so don't do it. Once you get onto Salt Creek the old stumps clear out and the water is much narrower and shallower, but when you are on the big lake water paddle slowly and remember to brace when you become unsteadied by an obstacle.

Lower Salt Creek is much easier to access and safer to paddle, but I have never seen any Eagles on that trip. Another surprise I got on this trip was meeting another kayak photographer. Greg and I met Kevin paddling his big Dagger kayak down Salt Creek after a morning of taking pictures. He said he has paddled both Upper and Lower Salt Creek quite a few times. We only visited briefly, but it looked like he was rocking a cool SLR camera and zoom lens. I should have invited him to join our new Oklahoma Flatwater Paddlers group, but it slipped my mind and I didn't water to interrupt his adventure with too much uninvited dialogue.

After our paddling trip, Greg and I met up with Dianne and grabbed some Mexican food con cervezas in Okmulgee (the El Charro has the best fish in town). He is still plotting out a short trip through the locks on the Arkansas River near Webbers Falls, so be expecting more news on that later.

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Okmulgee Lake 

Although paddling options can be limited this time of year in Oklahoma, most Okies are blessed to live near a reservoir lake. We have two here in the Okmulgee area. I usually paddle what is locally known as the 'New Lake" or Dripping Springs Lake. I like shooting pictures of the strange reflections of drowning trees on Dripping Springs Lake and you don't have to dodge as many ski boats.
However, Friday after work I needed a quick bit of exercise to unwind and decided to stop by Okmulgee Lake.

Locally this is known as the "Old Lake" and tends to see quite a bit of fast boating action. In fact, they host boat racing and wakeboarding competitions here. I like to slip my kayak in near the lake's spillway off Highway 75 and paddle around in the golden sunset light. I try to keep close to the shore to avoid collisions with faster craft. Naturally, one must be careful not to paddle OVER the spillway unless your life lacks adventure. My old DMC-FZ7 loved this kind of light, as long as I avoided shooting directly into the sun. I can't resist shooting into the lovely warm light, so I got quite a few lens flares. I wish I had some of those cool Cokin Landscape Filters, it looks like you can have light like this anytime with those!

Clovis Point Campground at Dripping Springs Lake near Okmulgee, Oklahoma
Dripping Springs Lake Sunset
Taken at Clovis Point Campground





Okmulgee  Area Attractions

  • Orpheum Movie Theater

  • Creek Council House Museum

  • Kirby's Diner

  • Cafe on the Square

  • Okmulgee Invitational Rodeo & Festival every August.



Directions to Okmulgee's Two Lakes

The simplest way to get to Dripping Springs Lake is to enter Okmulgee State Park which is about 4 miles out of Okmulgee on Highway 56. Once you are on the main road going around Okmulgee Lake, you can follow that main road to Dripping Springs Lake. Here is a link to a map of the road around both lakes.

Dripping Springs Lake Map    Okmulgee Lake Map (PDF) 

To paddle to Upper Salt Creek the closest put-in that I know of is by the Fishing Dock at the Clovis Point Area on Dripping Springs Lake.

As you can see on the lake map, Clovis Point is at the bottom edge of the map. From Clovis Point you have to paddle South and West to the other side of the lake. This bit is something of a slog through the open lake water, filled with drowning trees.

If possible, pick a day when the wind is low or be prepared for some troublesome waves.

Clovis Point is an excellent camping area offering bathrooms, barbecue, shelters and some excellent RV sites with full hook-ups. Since the park is newer than most Oklahoma parks, the facilities are in quite good condition at Clovis Point on Dripping Springs Lake.

To paddle Lower Salt Creek, put-in right below the Dripping Springs Lake dam on the north end of Dripping Springs Lake. As you can see from the map link below, it is sheltered paddling from the put-in to about halfway to Area 'A' on Okmulgee Lake. There are few, if any, drowned tree obstacles on this trip.

Kayaking in the Deep Fork River Bayou near Okmulgee, Oklahoma

Deep Fork Bayou

Recently, I enjoyed about an hour of paddling around on Deep Fork Bayou. You can access this portion of the Deep Fork Wildlife Refuge via a small tank farm road right off Highway 75 South just south of Okmulgee, Oklahoma.

Paddling this tiny body of water is like paddling in a pond, but with more shade than most ponds offer. I saw countless turtles, some cranes and a few fish. The water is muddy, but not as red as the Deep Fork River. From Google Earth, Deep Fork Bayou looks completely circular, but you cannot paddling all the way around it at the current water level.

It makes a nice place to do some exercise paddling that is close to town for Okmulgee folks.


"Everyone must believe in something. I believe I'll go canoeing" -- Henry David Thoreau


See our kayaking weblog page for trip details and links to Google maps to get you there! Read about Oklahoma's unofficial scenic rivers like the Spring River and the Lower Mountain Fork River as well as our trips outside of Oklahoma to other Ozark waterways. You can even grab some cool kayaking t-shirts or other great gifts for Oklahoma adventure seekers.


Oklahoma Canoe & Kayak Paddlers Groups

Yahoo Group for Flatwater Paddlers

Oklahoma Kayaking Blog.

The Green Country Outdoors Club 

Oklahoma Paddle Sports Association J

Northeastern Oklahoma Kayak Anglers Facebook Group


Eating in Okmulgee

You will find most Okmulgee eateries right on Highway 75 or South of Hwy 75 on 6th Street. Sixth Street will take you through Okmulgee's historic downtown area.

Below we list our choices for the best eating options in the area. We include all of Okmulgee county, since most of the paddling spots are actually outside of the city.

Best Burger in Okmulgee - Sonic Drive-in on 6th Street.

Best Fish in Okmulgee - El Charro on Highway 75.

Best Breakfast in Okmulgee - Kirby's Diner on 6th Street.



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