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Sunset on Bull Shoals lake

Bull Shoals Lake

Bull Shoals Lake is located along the Arkansas/Missouri border in northern Arkansas/southern Missouri. It is one of four lakes along the White River used for flood control. In order, these lakes are Beaver Lake, Table Rock Lake, Lake Taneycomo and then Bull Shoals Lake.

This chain of lakes is used as reservoirs in order to hold water that would otherwise cause increased flooding along the lower White and Arkansas Rivers as they flow toward the Mississippi River. You may remember the devastating flooding along the Arkansas River in late spring of this year. This flooding would surely have been orders of magnitude worse if not for the work of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in holding large volumes of water in these lakes.

The normal level of Bull Shoals Lake is 659-660 feet above mean sea level. This is known as the power pool level. The lake level can fluctuate between 630 and 690 feet. The average depth of Bull Shoals lake is 70 feet. Many places in the main channel reach over 100 feet deep, with a maximum depth of 210 feet.

Bull Shoals Lake begins below the Ozark Beach Dam (also known as Powersite dam) just outside Branson, MO. This portion of the White River system is the 22-mile-long Lake Taneycomo from below Table Rock Dam to the Ozark Beach dam.

This dam is the only privately owned dam on the White River. The rest are managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Ozark Beach Hydroelectric Plant was completed in 1913. It is 1300 feet wide and has a spillway of 600 feet. The hydroelectric plant has 4 generators with a capacity of 16 megawatts.

Powersite dam Bull Shoals Lake
Ozark Beach Dam

From this point Bull Shoals Lake meanders east along the Arkansas/Missouri state line. The lake was formed when the White River was dammed by the construction of Bull Shoals Dam. Bull Shoals Dam was completed in 1951. At the time of completion, it was the fifth largest dam in the world. The dam is 2,256 feet wide and is 256 feet tall. It has a total of 8 hydroelectric generators which can produce 380 megawatts of power at full capacity.

Bull Shoals Dam
Bull Shoals Dam

For outdoor enthusiasts, Bull Shoals Lake is an outdoor lovers dream. The lake contains a surface area of 0ver 48,000 acres. Its miles of shoreline are undeveloped because the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers maintains a buffer zone along the shoreline. This has the consequence of also maintaining the scenic beauty of the lake.

There are numerous campgrounds, public boat ramps, marinas and other outdoor opportunities. The lake is normally uncrowded even on holidays, which is another attraction of this scenic lake.

Fishing is excellent on the lake. Many species of sport fish abound in the deep clear waters. Bass, Crappie, Bluegill, Catfish, Walleye and Striped Bass make their home here. Diving is also an activity that has a lot of participation due to the clarity of the waters.

Boating is pleasant on Bull Shoals Lake because it is most times much less crowded than comparable lakes in Arkansas and Missouri. We have been out with friends drifting on the lake and may only see a handful of boats in several hours time. The abundance of creek arms off the main lake means you can find a secluded spot and seldom be disturbed if that is what you prefer.

Boating & Snorkeling On Bull Shoals Lake

Another surprise you may not know regarding Bull Shoals Lake is that it has one of the few remaining ferry boats still in operation in the US. The Peel Ferry operates daily taking passengers and vehicles between the Arkansas and Missouri sides of Highway 125. For more info on the ferry you can read my article from earlier this year.

Wildlife abounds in and around the lake. During certain times of year you can see Bald Eagles fishing the lake. Many other bird species call the lake home. Deer also abound in the area, along with a number of other mammals, snakes and amphibians. If you are a nature photographer you would do well to spend some time around the lake because there are plenty of creatures and scenic vistas for you to photograph.

Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle at Bull Shoals Lake

If you would like to find out more about recreational opportunities on Bull Shoals Lake you can visit the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website or the Bull Shoals-White River area Chamber of Commerce.

You can also feel free to contact us using our contact form, and we’ll be happy to assist you with questions about the area, photo opportunities, etc. Also, be sure to follow and like our page on Facebook to see all the latest updates.

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