The Lake Hefner Lighthouse is one of the most beautiful places in Oklahoma City.
I light up whenever I drive by it (pun intended!), and I love coming and eating lunch at one of the marina’s restaurants with lighthouse views.
Here’s what you need to know to plan your own visit to this OKC lighthouse, plus a bit of local lighthouse history.
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Quick History of Lake Hefner Lighthouse
You may wonder just why is there a lighthouse in Oklahoma City, especially one that is sitting on the shores of a manmade lake in the middle of a landlocked state like Oklahoma.
And why does it look like an East Coast lighthouse that would be more at home in Nantucket or North Carolina than in the Big Friendly?
The first thing you need to know is that the lighthouse’s actual name is the Lighthouse at East Wharf.
It was built in 1999 as a copy of the second oldest lighthouse in the US, Brant Point Lighthouse.
While the lighthouse is new, the 2500-acre lake isn’t much older, built only in the mid-1900s and completed in 1947.
Lake Hefner was created to double as a water reservoir and recreational area for the growing city.
The lighthouse has become an integral part of Oklahoma City. This iconic spot is one of the most Instagrammable spots in OKC as well as one of the best roadside attractions in the state of Oklahoma.
So while it might seem strange to see a New England-style lighthouse here now, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you’re driving near one of America’s coastlines instead of America’s heartland.
East Wharf Lighthouse Architecture
It may surprise you to know that this is a real lighthouse – not a faux one.
But what makes it real? According to Jeff Gales, director of the U.S. Lighthouse Society:
“Because a light was put into it, and because it shines light every night, and because it’s now registered as a private aide to navigation with the U.S. Coast Guard, it’s officially a lighthouse.”
In fact, this working lighthouse may not guide ships safely home from across the Atlantic Ocean, but it is a member of the U.S. Lighthouse Society.
The Hefner Lake lighthouse is taller than the lighthouse it’s based on. The one on Hefner Lake is 36 feet tall with a 40-foot tall light.
The lighthouse is topped with a hexagonal tower and an iso-phase red light that pulses four seconds in a two-second off-on pattern.
The Lighthouse at East Wharf is situated in the middle of tornado alley, so it’s made of sturdy concrete to keep it standing firmly on the water’s edge even in the harshest of winds.
The concrete made the construction a more simple process than other materials, even though the location of the build made it more difficult.
According to the team at E.V. Cox Construction:
“The lighthouse at Lake Hefner was our most famous project and also the smallest project we ever built, and it was a culmination of the experiences of many people that allowed it to be designed and constructed and win a National Design Award from the Tilt-Up Concrete Association in 2001.”
Today this iconic lighthouse is one of the most popular spots in the city for impressive photos, dining with great views, and beautiful recreation trails.
Lake Hefner Lighthouse Directions + Map
The Lighthouse at East Wharf is located on the east side of the lake near the intersection of the Lake Hefner Parkway and Britton Road.
Address: Lake Hefner Pkwy, Oklahoma City, OK 73120
What It’s Like Visiting the Lake Hefner Lighthouse
Visiting the lighthouse is easy, but there are a few things you will want to be aware of.
There is free parking behind Louie’s and more behind the Lake Hefner Marina. Watch out for geese in the parking lot.
Best Times to Visit
The lighthouse is beautiful year-round. You can get beautiful views in summer and snowy views in winter.
The lighthouse is famous for particularly beautiful sunsets since its location on the east side of the lake means that sunsets happen behind the lighthouse over the water.
Lake Hefner Lighthouse Restaurants
I like eating at Louie’s Grill and Bar, a casual spot with many outdoor tables to enjoy lighthouse and sailboat views.
On the other side of the marina, there are more restaurants: Redrock Canyon Grill, Mama Roja Mexican Kitchen, and Hefner Grill.
Things to Do Nearby
You can enjoy Lake Hefner in a variety of ways. While swimming is prohibited, you can go fishing (with a fishing license), paddle boarding, kayaking, and sailing.
You can also enjoy the 9.8-mile paved trail which is a multi-use bike trail and walking trail. You can even go skateboarding and rollerblading here.
Nearby, families can enjoy Stars & Stripes Park, a six-minute drive around to the south side of the lake.
On the north side of the lake, you’ll find Bluff Creek Park.
Fifteen minutes away is the Lake Hefner Golf Club.
Weddings and Events at the Lake Hefner Lighthouse
Yes, there are weddings and wedding photography at Lake Hefner Lighthouse. If you want to do a photo shoot there, it’s free and available at any time. Just be considerate of the other visitors at the lighthouse.
If you want to plan a wedding at Lake Hefner and have a spectacular image of the lighthouse behind you during the ceremony, reach out to the experts at Lake Hefner Lighthouse Wedding Ceremonies.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Lake Hefner Lighthouse (FAQ)
These are the questions visitors have the most before heading out to the OKC lighthouse.
Can you go into the Lake Hefner lighthouse?
No, you cannot go inside the lighthouse. However, it’s free to walk around the lighthouse out on the small peninsula in the water.
Why is there a lighthouse on Lake Hefner?
It started as a photo-op style gimmick to attract visitors to the businesses in the area, but it became an iconic site in the community and is a registered official navigation aide.
What is the name of the lighthouse at Lake Hefner?
The Lake Hefner Light house is officially called the Lighthouse at East Wharf.
Is Lake Hefner a state park?
No, Lake Hefner is a city lake with several city parks and businesses around it.
What amenities are at Lake Hefner?
The amenities at Lake Hefner include boat docks, boat slips, dry storage, fishing docks, an enclosed heated fishing dock, picnic areas, grills, restrooms, playgrounds, group shelters, a nature trail, a running track, a softball field, a golf course with pro shop and cart rental, a model airplane field, a soccer field, and a 9-mile walking/jogging trail.
Is there a lighthouse in Tulsa?
No, the only other lighthouse in Oklahoma is a faux lighthouse in Elk City.
Can you get in the water at Lake Hefner?
No, there’s no swimming or bathing permitted at Lake Hefner.
Can you walk all the way around Lake Hefner?
Yes, there is a 9.8-mile paved trail that fully circumnavigates the lake called the Lake Hefner Trail. If you want a shorter trail, there’s a 1.9-mile trail at Stars & Stripes Park called the Bert Cooper Trail.
What’s the deepest part of Lake Hefner?
The average depth of the lake is 29 feet, and the maximum depth is 94 feet.
Do you have to have a permit to fish Lake Hefner?
Yes, you need an Oklahoma fishing license to fish in Lake Hefner.
Can you kayak on Lake Hefner?
Yes, you can kayak on Lake Hefner.
Can you paddle board on Lake Hefner?
Yes, you can paddle board on Lake Hefner
Can you ride jet skis at Lake Hefner?
Yes, you can use jet skis on Lake Hefner.
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Stephanie Craig is a born-and-bred Oklahoma mom and travel expert who has been to over fifty countries. After traveling all over the world, Stephanie moved back to Oklahoma to explore more of her own backyard. Her favorite things to do in Oklahoma include visiting the Blue Whale of Catoosa, the Arcadia Round Barn, and the Talimena Scenic Byway.