Foss Lake - Kayak Trip / Canoe Trip
Submitted by: thistle
Foss has a 134 ft. high, 3 mile long earthen dam, making it one of the largest earthen dams in the nation. The lake is the largest lake in Western Oklahoma with 8,800 surface acres and 60 miles of shoreline. Surrounded by rolling prairie, it was part of the Cheyenne-Arapaho Indian reservation, and earlier home to the Plains Indian Tribes. The area was part of the Great Western Cattle Trail and home to huge bison herds in the past, and a small herd can still be observed from the park office.
There are six campgrounds around the park with 110 RV sites and 55 primitive sites. There are hiking trails, a swim beach, several boat ramps and a marina, fishing, and picnic facilities. The lake lies southeast to northwest, and since predominant winds are usually north or south, winds and waves can build quickly on the lake, but if paddling, there are side branches that offer a break from the full fetch of the lake.
The north half of the lake is in the Washita National Wildlife Refuge giving you the chance to paddle in pristine, undeveloped areas with the chance to observe some wildlife. Since the refuge is on the migratory waterfowl route, it is closed to all boats from 15 October to 15 March. Another nice thing about doing the wildlife refuge area is few powerboats venture that far north except for a couple bass fishermen. Most of the jetskis and waterskiers remain south in the area around the largest campgrounds and the marina.
We camped at Cutberth Campground, which put us close to mid-lake, and it has a well-protected boat ramp in Cutberth Creek. I got the canoe afloat at 0800, about an hour later than hoped, but the wind was light and I was able to do 16.8 miles before the wind filled in and convinced me that six hours of paddling was enough for the day.
The novice paddler can find almost unlimited take-out opportunities in the southern lake, but those going into the refuge area are in a natural environment with almost no take-out facilities. It was a well-maintained area with friendly and helpful staff. I'd recommend it.
Boat ramps are paved with piers and floats. Well-maintained in excellent condition. Campgrounds are clean with level concrete camper pads. Most have fire rings and grills. Bathhouses and RV dump sites.
Showers are $1.00. Full facilities are mostly $20/night. There is a $2.00/night senior discount. "American The Beautiful" senior passes are not honored in Oklahoma State Parks. Non-resident or resident fishing licenses are available at the marina.
Foss Lake is located at Foss Lake State Park, north on OK Rt. 44 about ten miles from exit 53 off I-40 in Western Oklahoma.
Foss Lake State Park
phone: (580)592-4433 during normal office hours
A lake tourist guide is available from the state park office with a centerfold map of the lake.
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