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Lake Okeechobee

  • Lake Okeechobee, Florida

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About Lake Okeechobee

Lake Okeechobee is the largest freshwater lake in the state of Florida and the tenth largest in the United States. The large lake covers an area of 730 square miles which brings about its other nickname of “Florida’s Inland Sea” as you can’t see across it. 

Many people ask, is Lake Okeechobee man-made? The answer is no. They often confuse the lake itself with the Herbert Hoover Dike that was built in the early 20th century. This dike surrounds the lake to help prevent flooding after a hurricane killed thousands of residents. In 1926 and 1928 two hurricanes ravaged the area, and the subsequent flooding contributed to the deaths of over 2,500 people. The dike was expanded in later years after another hurricane proved that it wasn’t quite enough. 

The lake was first used by Native American tribes, including the Seminole Indians. The name Okeechobee is derived from the Hitchiti words oki meaning ‘water’ and chubi meaning “big’. 

It also played an important role in Florida’s early agricultural and transportation development. It still works as an important source of freshwater for local agriculture, most especially the sugar cane and citrus industries.  

Another common question is how was Lake Okeechobee formed? As what’s called a geological trough, it was actually dry land until about 6,000 years ago. With an increase in rainfall and rising sea levels, between 6,000 and 4,000 years ago the water began to rise in the area eventually forming the lake. Despite its large size, it’s a relatively shallow lake, averaging out to a depth of 13 feet. 

There are plenty of things to do at Lake Okeechobee. The entire area offers room for biking and hiking, fishing, boating, and wildlife observation. Running around the lake is a 109-mile scenic trail that’s partially paved attracting hikers and cyclists. On the southern shore is Clewiston. For fishing enthusiasts, this town offers the most to those visiting for the famous largemouth bass. 

When it comes to Lake Okeechobee animals, birdwatching is the most popular pastime. Several migratory species come to the lake during their journey and can be observed in the spring and fall. Due to the vast number of ecosystems around the lake you can witness other animals like alligators and plenty of fish species, not just birds. The most popular catches in Lake Okeechobee are redear sunfish, largemouth bass, and bluegill.

The campgrounds and resorts around Lake Okeechobee cater to those interested in hiking or biking the entire trail or simply enjoying the area at a slower pace. RV parks and small towns dot the shores, each with its own appeal and things to see and do. 

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Frequently Asked Questions about Lake Okeechobee

Lake Okeechobee was formed about 6,000 years ago when increasing rainfall and rising sea levels filled in the geological trough that was once dry.

It happens to be one of the largest natural resources in the US. Beyond its immense size, the bass fishery has now claimed world fame and the black crappie fishery located here now yields more fish than the rest of Florida.

Yes, but it’s not safe to swim in the lake. After years of agricultural and storm run-off, and the occasional alligator activity, it’s advisable not to go swimming.

Surprisingly, yes. Bull sharks are capable of surviving in salt water and fresh water. As Lake Okeechobee is connected to the ocean, it’s believed that the bull sharks spotted in the lake were blown in, perhaps as pups, during one of the many hurricanes that hit the area. Because of the large populations of bass to feed from, they were able to survive and grow.

Algae. Every summer, due to the shallow waters, the lake fights with blooms of toxic algae.

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  • Timezone: -05:00

    February 23, 2024 5:55 am local time

Lake Okeechobee Amenities

  • Boat Docks
  • Kid Friendly
  • Outdoor Seating
  • Parking Available
  • Pets Allowed
  • Picnic Areas

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