The Lake of the Ozarks is a large Missouri lake that was created by damming the Osage River in the northern part of the Ozarks in central Missouri.Other smaller rivers include the Niangua River, Grand Glaize Creek, and Gravois Creek. The lake has a surface area of 55,000 acres, over 1,150 miles of shoreline, and the main channel of the Osage River Arm stretches 92 miles from end to end.
The lake was created by the construction of the 2,543-foot long Bagnell Dam. The dam is operated and maintained by AmerenUE, the successor of Union Electric, under the authority of a permit issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The massive body of water backed up behind Bagnell Dam is the largest man-made lake in the Midwestern United States.
The Lake of the Ozarks is unique in the fact that it is the largest man-made, non-flood control lake in the United States. The lake rarely varies in surface elevation by more than 5 feet, with normal pool elevation of 660.0 feet above mean sea level. Most of the shoreline on the Lake of the Ozarks is privately owned, and the relatively stable surface elevation has created ideal conditions for private development within a few feet of the shoreline.
During the process of land acquisition for the lake during the 1920s, 17,500 acres of land along the Grand Glaize Arm of the lake was set aside for a national park. In 1946, this land was acquired by the State of Missouri for Lake of the Ozarks State Park, the largest State Park in Missouri.
Lake of the Ozarks State Park is home to Party Cove, a rowdy gathering spot. The Missouri State Water Patrol has estimated that the cove attracts up to 3000 boats during holiday weekends.
Another state park on the shores of the lake is Ha Ha Tonka State Park on the Niangua Arm of the lake.
Towns and communities in the area include Osage Beach, Warsaw, Lake Ozark, Camdenton, Gravois Mills, Sunrise Beach, Laurie, Versailles, Eldon, Hurricane Deck, Climax Springs, and Stover Missouri.