River and Lake Conditions around OKC

You can use the USGS links to view historical data. They default to a 1-week view, but you can adjust begin/end date to view any range. Some stations also have other values available, such as water temperature.

The gages usually only update every hour, some on the hour some on the half hour. Since it takes 15-20 minutes for the data to show up on the USGS site, I pull the data at 20 and 50 minutes after the hour, the time of my last pull is at the bottom of the page. The page won't refresh itself, you'll have to click reload if you keep it open.

North Canadian River

Gage Level (ft) Flow Rate (cfs) Water Temp Last Update
Canton 17.82 79.7 2019-08-18T09:00:00.000-05:00 USGS Page
Watonga 12.29 801 2019-08-18T09:30:00.000-05:00 USGS Page
Calumet 9.01 741 80.42 2019-08-17T23:00:00.000-05:00 USGS Page
El Reno - Hwy 81 7.28 1070 81.5 2019-08-18T09:00:00.000-05:00 USGS Page
Yukon - Piedmont Road 4.74 880 81.68 2019-08-18T09:30:00.000-05:00 USGS Page
Stinchcomb - Old Bridge 1241.31 2019-08-18T09:30:00.000-05:00 USGS Page
Below Overholser Dam - 10th St Bridge 8.81 693 82.75999999999999 2019-08-18T09:00:00.000-05:00 USGS Page
Hefner Canal at MacArthur 6.05 63.0 2019-08-18T09:30:00.000-05:00 USGS Page

Stinchcomb is the only river gage that reads in "feet above sea level" as the lakes do. The other river gages are the actual depth in feet.

Stinchcomb is "full" at 1242.5 (the level of the Overholser spillway). It can go higher for brief periods especially just after a heavy rainfall. It is effectively "empty" around 1236, but it's very shallow in the refuge and difficult to paddle far by 1238. More than two miles upstream the floatability depends more on how much water and flow there is coming down from Yukon.

There is nothing measuring flow into Overholser. The top of the spillway that fills the lake is at approximately 1242.5, so if the Stinchcomb gage is at or above that level water is flowing into the lake.

Paddling up to the turnpike without portages needs enough water at Stinchcomb as well as enough flow from Yukon. I've been able to float past the 3-mile point with Stinchcomb at 1241.5, at 1240.5 it's too shallow there. The last mile to the turnpike depends more on the Yukon flow. I've gotten there with 1.9 feet and 50 CFS or so but it was a tedious search for deep enough water as the main channel zig-zags back and forth across the river. I've also gone there at around 500 CFS, a tough fight against the current that last mile but makes for a really nice downstream float. I've been in Stinchcomb at flows up to 2400 CFS or so, but only the lower mile.

Floating down from Yukon (or farther) is fun but often requires a quick decision to go shortly after a large enough rainfall. A shorter run is barely possible at 1.8-1.9, but you'll have to get out and drag across sand bars several times until you reach the turnpike. Around 2.2-2.3 feet gives a fair float with just a few sandbars, but if you put in at Richland Road or farther west you will have a little trouble getting over a pair of pipes just east of Richland under the power lines. A level of 2.4-2.5 feet makes for a much nicer float with minimal snags. The pipes are visible but you can float over them in the right spot.

It's possible to float down through Stinchcomb even when the level at the lake is very low IF there's enough flow and the level is high enough at the Yukon gage. After continuous heavy rains recently the Yukon gage stayed up around 3 feet for quite a while with flows around 150-300 CFS and quite a few were able to float down without any trouble even with the Stinchcomb level down around 1239.

Places (that I know about) to put in, heading farther upstream, include: (Mileage is to the turnpike bridge / Stinchcomb - you'll have another 4 miles through the refuge.)


Gage Level (ft) Water Temp Last Update
Lake Overholser 1241.77 2019-08-18T09:00:00.000-05:00 USGS Page
Lake Hefner 1199.40 83.1 2019-08-18T09:30:00.000-05:00 USGS Page
Lake Draper 1189.29 80.1 2019-08-18T09:30:00.000-05:00 USGS Page
Lake Thunderbird 1038.00 2019-08-18T09:00:00.000-05:00 USGS Page

All lake gages read in "feet above sea level". Water temps are read at the intake towers.

Overholser - Normal elevation is 1242. The north end of the lake is quite shallow, only 4-6 feet. Deepest point right at the dam is only 14 feet. Most of the lake is around 10 feet.

Hefner - Normal elevation is 1199. Gets to 10 feet fairly quickly along the south shore, deepest at the intake tower is 75 feet. The center of the lake varies 35-60 feet.

Draper - Normal elevation is 1187. Deepest point near the dam is 90 feet! The central area is 60-80 feet, with most of the arms 30-50 feet.

Thunderbird - Normal elevation is 1039. Deepest point at the dam is 50 feet, steadily rising to 20 feet along both branches of the main body of the lake. The area north of the Alameda bridge (North Sentinel) averages 5 feet. Little River flows directly into the lake, so it is also directly affected by the lake's level. Have only been here a few times, the river is easily floatable for several miles upstream at 1038.5. We were able to get 6 miles upstream last fall when the level was at 1039. About 3 1/2 miles upstream from the North Sentinel ramp Rock Creek flows into the Little River. It is narrow and well shaded, a very nice place if it's a hot day! We couldn't get far upstream, 1/2 mile or so.

Arcadia - The USGS doesn't have a gage on Arcadia, so I can't get the level as I do the others above. The Corps of Engineers does have a page for it here: ACD02: Arcadia Lake, OK. The Deep Fork river flows into Arcadia, so is affected by the lake level. I have only been there once, but we were able to go about 2 miles upstream (just got sight of the Hefner Road bridge) while the lake was at 1006.5.