How to Visit the Lake Hefner Lighthouse at East Wharf (Oklahoma City)

Oklahoma - Oklahoma City - View from the Lake Hefner Lighthouse - Stephanie Craig
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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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How to Visit the Lake Hefner Lighthouse (Oklahoma City) by Stephanie Craig

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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?

Oklahoma - Oklahoma City - Lake Hefner Lighthouse

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.

Oklahoma - Oklahoma City - Lake Hefner Lighthouse Selfie Valentine and Stephanie

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.

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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.”

Oklahoma - Oklahoma City - Lake Hefner 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.

Oklahoma - Oklahoma City - Lake Hefner Lighthouse the Lighthouse at East Wharf Plaque Valentine

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

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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.

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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.

Oklahoma - Oklahoma City - Lake Hefner Lighthouse in winter in the snow

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.

Oklahoma - Oklahoma City - View of Louie's from Lake Hefner Lighthouse

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.

Oklahoma - Oklahoma City - People fishing at Lake Hefner in front of the Hefner Lighthouse at Sunset

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.

Oklahoma - Oklahoma City - Lake Hefner Lighthouse Selfie Valentine and Stephanie

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.

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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.

Oklahoma - Oklahoma City - Stephanie at Hefner Lighthouse at Sunset

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.

Oklahoma - Oklahoma City - Lake Hefner Lighthouse the Lighthouse at East Wharf Plaque

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.

Oklahoma - Oklahoma City - Lake Hefner Lighthouse

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.

Oklahoma - Oklahoma City - View from the Lake Hefner Lighthouse of Restaurants in East Wharf

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.

Oklahoma - Oklahoma City - Lake Hefner Marina

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.

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Oklahoma - Oklahoma City - Lake Hefner Lighthouse

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.

Pin this Guide to Lake Hefner Lighthouse, Oklahoma’s Only Real Lighthouse!

How to Visit the Lake Hefner Lighthouse (Oklahoma City) by Stephanie Craig

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