GRDA’s stewardship responsiblities over Oklahoma waters include the Grand River watershed and the scenic Illiniois River and its tributaries. Combined, GRDA’s Grand Lake, Lake Hudson and the W.R. Holway Reservoir represent nearly 70,000 surface acres of waters which are among the most popular destinations in the region. Meanwhile, the Illinois River also attracts thousands and thousands of visitors on an annual basis. All of these waters support a thriving recreation and tourism industry that is the foundation for a broad tax base in the region.

These waters also serve as important water supplies for thousands of Oklahomans. Today, GRDA is second only to the Oklahoma Water Resources Board in jurisidiction over state water resources.

GRDA Lake Rules: 8-11-2019

Let’s Be Good Neighbors 

Will help answer the following:

  • Is GRDA my Neighbor?
  • What if I own a structure on GRDA property?
  • What is a Flowage Easement?

Grand Lake

Grand Lake O’ The Cherokees was created in 1940 with GRDA’s completion of Pensacola Dam. It is one of the premiere lakes in the Midwest and the crown jewel of a chain of lakes in the northeastern Oklahoma region.

Its 46,500 surface acres of water are ideal for boating, skiing, fishing, swimming and sailing. In fact, the lake, which lies in a southwest to northeast direction, is popular with sailboat enthusiasts wishing to take advantage of the prevailing wind. Normal surface elevation is 742 feet above sea level.

With miles and miles of shoreline meandering through the foothills of the Ozark Mountains, everything from bustling lakeside communities to quiet secluded coves and lakeside resorts can be found along its shore.

Grand is consistently ranked among the top lakes for bass fishing in the region and is also a haven for migratory waterfowl and other wildlife.

Grand Lake Information:


Lake Hudson was created in 1964 with GRDA’s completion of the Markham Ferry Project (Robert S. Kerr Dam).

Lake Hudson is situated in a natural river valley, resting at the foothills of the Ozark Mountains. Its location provides for breathtaking scenery comprised of majestic bluffs, rolling hills and quiet, secluded coves.

Significantly smaller than its “big sister,” Grand Lake, Lake Hudson has 12,000 surface acres of water surrounded by 200 miles of shoreline. Hudson has an average elevation of 619 feet above sea level.

A wide variety of fish can be caught on Lake Hudson, and many consider it to be the best bass fishing lake in the state. During the fall and winter months, Lake Hudson is a haven for wildlife.

GRDA continues maintenance work on foundation conditions at our Markham Ferry Project’s, Robert S. Kerr Dam Spillway and Lake Hudson. The dam has undergone lifelong scour due to flood management through its spillway.  The degradation due to scouring was recognized after a series of significant recent flood events. 

While there is not believed to be any immediately critical condition that would progress to a significant issue, GRDA is developing foundation improvements to remediate current conditions. GRDA is working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to maintain a variance to its congressionally enacted water management control requirements for the Upper Arkansas River System. This variance requires public notification as to potential effects of shared flood pool distribution.

Current and planned continuation of this variation to operations will maintain Lake Hudson at normal pool elevation with minor response levels into the flood pool due to response time associated with inflow volume. If any more critical issues develop, GRDA will issue a public announcement and post information at this location.

WR Holway reservoir

Named after the longtime GRDA Consulting Engineer, the W.R. Holway Reservoir is a 712 surface acre reservoir attached to the Salina Pumped Storage Project (SPSP). Impounded in 1968, when GRDA completed the first phase of the SPSP and construction of a 200-foot earth and rock dam across the Chimney Rock Hollow, Holway Reservoir sits 250 feet above the SPSP powerhouse and holds the water supply needed to spin the SPSP turbines.

Scenic Rivers Operations

On July 1, 2016, the Grand River Dam Authority absorbed the mission and responsibilities of the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission (OSRC).

That mission is to protect, enhance, and preserve the outstanding aesthetic, historic, archaeological and scientific features of the Illinois River and its tributaries (Lee Creek, Little Lee Creek, Barren Fork Creek, Flint Creek, and the Upper Mountain Fork).

Today, GRDA is invested with the power to establish minimum standards for planning and other ordinances affecting scenic rivers. As the OSRC had done since its establishment in 1977, GRDA continues today to work with communities, businesses and individuals to mitigate their impact on scenic rivers. We strive to educate the public about scenic rivers and also to provide everyone the opportunity to enjoy the features that make these water resources so special.

GRDA SRO carries out the provisions of the Scenic Rivers Act through protection, preservation, and education.