Oologah Lake sees spike in attendance this summer due to cooler temperatures, clean water

OOLOGAH, OKLA. - With scorching temperatures returning to Green Country this week, anyone hoping to cool off still cannot use Bernice Beach at Grand Lake.

The beach remains closed due to high bacteria levels. The same problem shut down other swimming areas earlier this summer, but one lake has kept its gates open all summer long.

Park rangers said Oologah Lake usually hits its peak number of visitors on the Fourth of July weekend, but this year people are still coming to stay at the campgrounds long past the holiday.

"I would say we're running pretty close to normal as far as being busy," park ranger Raef Perryman said. "We've had some great visitation this year."

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which manages Oologah Lake, claimed it's too early to share the exact number of visits this summer, but Perryman said the unusually cool temperatures have helped drive up attendance.

"A lot of times after the Fourth of July, things start settling back down with people thing about going back to school and that type of thing," he said, "but this year I think the nice weather is keeping them coming out here, which is great for us."

This week marks the second time that Len and Vicki Coulter have pulled their camper to Oologah Lake this summer.

"It's just a really nice lake," Len said. "The water's normally pretty clear and clean."

His wife, Vicki, said they avoid staying on the weekends here because they are so much busier than normal.

"Oh, it's day and night," Vicki said. "It's very quiet and peaceful during the week, like it is now. But weekends towards Friday, it gets really crazy."

People are finding packed campgrounds this summer as well as busy beaches. Unlike a few other lakes, the swimming areas at Oologah Lake have remained open all summer.

"All of our tests have come back within the normal range or underneath the normal range of what we're testing for," Perryman said. "So far it's been a great summer. We haven't had any issues at our beaches."

Park rangers said they fully expect lake season this year to last through Labor Day, which is much longer than years past.

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