The Famous Lake That Is Considered One Of The Most Dangerous In America

The Lake of the Ozarks might make you think of Jason Bateman as he desperately tries to launder money, thanks to the Netflix hit set in this famous vacation spot in Missouri. But the area has a long-standing history outside of crime drama and has long been a popular vacation spot for those who love water sports. Why not? It's beautiful, and the lake has a surface area of 55,000 acres and stretches 92 miles long. That's loads of room to play on. It's a man-made lake and was created because of the Bagnell Dam.

While it sounds idyllic, there are a lot of bizarre details about the Lake of the Ozarks. At the bottom of the lake is the town of Linn Creek, which had to be evacuated when notice of the building of the Bagnell Dam came through. Even the cemetery from Linn Creek remains at the bottom. Inexplicably, fishermen have also caught piranhas in the Lake of the Ozarks, even though the fish is not native to Missouri. But the lore around the Lake of the Ozarks goes far beyond these details. It's considered one of the most dangerous lakes in America and for good reason. While most of the world's most dangerous places to swim earn their frightening reputation because of shark attacks, the Lake of the Ozarks is dangerous for different reasons.

Why blind intersections make the Lake of the Ozarks so dangerous

The reason that the Lake of the Ozarks is so dangerous is because of its unusual layout. Since it's manufactured, the shape of the lake is unique. It's serpentine in form and has several small fingers that shoot off of the main body of water. This is the crux of the danger. The fingers that join the main body of water create blind spots for boaters, both those on the main strip and those merging into the lake's larger body. While boaters are supposed to slow down in these areas, not all do, and the greatest cause of injuries and fatalities on the Lake of the Ozarks comes from these intersections.

According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, there were close to 10 reported accidents in June 2023 alone. Most incidents range from minor to severe, and the incident types range from "Collision with Watercraft" to "Person(s) Impacts Watercraft" and "Towed Watersport Mishap." The fatal ones are typically due to drowning, hitting stationery items, and persons discharged from watercraft. These statistics add to the Lake of the Ozarks being one of the most dangerous in the United States, almost entirely because of boating accidents.

To make matters worse, the Lake of the Ozarks has a big drinking culture. While drinking and operating a boat is prohibited, unfortunately, this is still very common in the area. So impaired judgment plus blind spots make for a deadly combination.

Algae, currents, and snakes in the Lake of the Ozarks

It's not just boating accidents that make the Lake of the Ozarks dangerous. While less deadly, there are other concerns to keep in mind on the lake. For those with a fear of snakes, we've got some bad news. Venomous snakes like the timber rattlesnake, the pygmy rattlesnake, the cottonmouth, copperhead, and massasauga snakes have all been spotted in the Lake of the Ozarks. These snakes can bite underwater. The lake also has strong currents that can make conditions challenging for swimmers.

The Lake of the Ozarks has also faced ongoing issues with E. Coli. In 2009, E. coli levels were alarmingly high. Locals speculated that goose droppings were the cause, but it was a leaking septic tank. Over the years, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources has checked the water frequently and advises boaters and swimmers to check their website before visiting the lake. "We collect water samples weekly. They are taken to a laboratory in Jefferson City to be analyzed for E. coli concentrations," the Missouri Department of Natural Resources' Coy King told KY3 News in 2022. So, there's a lot going on in the Lake of the Ozarks, but the most dangerous element comes from boating mishaps.