Park officials with two of the area’s largest lakes say water levels are below normal, but that hasn’t stopped visitors from engaging in water sports, fishing and a variety of amenities the state parks offer.
Oklahoma’s first and largest state park has experienced fluctuating water levels over the past few months, and levels have fallen five to seven feet below, depending on the area of the lake. Sunday, the Lake Murray’s elevation was at 742.42 feet. By comparison, the lake’s normal elevation is near 748 feet.
Park Manager Carol Conrad says the numbers are nothing new to park staff or visitors. Due to severe drought conditions that have hit the Sooner state during the past few years, the shoreline has grown and several boat ramps have been closed.
“The lake has been down varied levels for the last several years. We get a little rain, like we did last week, and I would say it improved it,” Conrad said. “If we have a wet season, like a wet fall or winter, it will greatly improve it.”
The boat ramps at Elephant Rock and the marina have remained open through the summer. Conrad says there have not been any problems with only two of the ramps open. Throughout the summer, plenty of speed boats, fishing boats, pontoons and jet skis have made their ways to the water.
“I think what most people don’t realize is that Lake Murray, on the southside of the lake, the water is over 120 feet in depth,” Conrad said. “When it hits five to seven feet below (normal), it truly only impacts the shoreline and sandbars that might become visible for boaters.”
Further south, park officials at Lake Texoma report a similar situation. On Tuesday, the lake’s elevations rested at 611.91 feet, with normal lake elevation at 617.83 feet. That puts water levels at just under six feet below normal, according to data from the Army Corps of Engineers.
Park Manager Julie Roach says a wetter June and July have helped the lake elevation, which has peaked up to 612 feet at times last week. Records indicate the lowest the water elevation has ever hit was 599 feet in 1957.
Recent rains brought up the water levels, allowing the park to open another boat ramp this past weekend, near the park’s marina. In late May, the only boat ramp opened at the lake was the half ramp at the Catfish Bay campground, which remains open.
Roach says water levels have made little impact on number of visitors to the park, which has had a typical summer season with busy weekends during the Memorial Day and the July Fourth holiday weekends.
Both Lake Murray and Lake Texoma, the state’s second largest lake, offer a myriad of water sports, but officials say that’s not what brings everyone to the state facilities, which offer picnic areas, hiking trails, camping sites and unique water views.
“It has been a good summer, and now we are beginning to see it slack off a bit, which it does this time of the year because of back to school,” Roach said. “This summer, we haven’t had any burn bans, and that means people can have campfires when they camp. Even though the lake is low, people have been out there enjoyed it. There is still plenty to do.”