County Oklahoma Paddling
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
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
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
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
I launch from the grassy shore rather than dragging my boat to the
New Beggs Lake
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
will have to continue before we can recommend trading in your Zebco.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Our Salt Creek Kayaking Slideshow)
Kayaking Lower Salt Creek near Okmulgee OK
Upper Salt Creek - Eagles in Okmulgee
Recently, 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
did allow my to capture shots good enough to show Dianne the Eagles
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
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.
Got some trip advice...email
us or drop a comment in on our
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
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
it looks like you can have light like this anytime with
Dripping Springs Lake Sunset
Taken at Clovis Point Campground
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.
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,
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
Spring River and the
Lower Mountain Fork River as well as our
trips outside of Oklahoma to
other Ozark waterways. You can even
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
Best Fish in Okmulgee - El Charro on Highway
Best Breakfast in Okmulgee - Kirby's Diner on 6th