Oklahoma Stories

‘Ultimate’ Family Place on Lake Tenkiller

By Courtney Leeper Girgis June 2022

Burnt Cabin Marina and Resort offers full-service fun for families

Burnt Cabin Marina
Burnt Cabin Marina and Resort | Photo by Courtney Leeper Girgis


Terry Anton was enjoying a day at Lake Tenkiller near Tahlequah, Oklahoma, until he realized his car keys were gone. They had slipped out of his pocket and into the water, 54 feet down to the bottom of the boat slip he and his wife, Vanessa Anton, rent from Burnt Cabin Marina and Resort.

When Bryce Lubbers, manager of the marina and son of owner Karen Young, discovered Anton’s problem, he sprung to action. He went home to get his scuba gear then dove until he could retrieve the keys. After a couple hours underwater, the keys still worked.

“It’s beyond first class,” Anton says, describing the service at Burnt Cabin as well as its overall look and atmosphere. “The quality, the upkeep, the visibility, the optics are all outstanding.”

Anton has kept his boat year-round at Burnt Cabin since 2012 and has watched the marina and resort transform into what he calls the “ultimate place on the lake.”

Building Bigger, Better

Customer service has always been a priority for Karen Young, Lake Region Electric Cooperative member, who purchased the marina in 2009.

Young, a lifelong boater, wanted the marina to be a place where people knew they would be taken care of and for families to enjoy quality time together.

“We tell people when they sign up for a boat slip, ‘This is not a party marina,’” Young says. “We want people to have fun, but we cater to families.”

This means clean music plays throughout the resort and the docks close by 11 p.m.

Feedback has been positive, Young says. Burnt Cabin has grown from 76 boat slips to 330 in 12 years, with a major expansion in 2018.

Today, guests can bring their own boat to the marina and rent a slip for a few days or for the year. Or they can rent one of Burnt Cabin’s boats. The marina offers ski boats, pontoons and tritoons, as well as jet skis, kayaks and paddle boards. Two campground options offer places to pitch a tent, park an RV or rent a cabin. Boaters from across the lake can pull up to the marina, which accommodates up to 50 parked boats at a time, to enjoy The Boat Bar, an outdoor restaurant and the chandelier-featuring, air-conditioned bathrooms.

The hub of the marina is the ship store. It holds countless lines of retail, including clothing and home decor, as well as lake gear.

“I felt like Tenkiller was ready for something nice and that has sure proven to be true based on the response of people,” Young says.

Family-Focused Future

One of Young’s proudest achievements, she says, is that two of her sons now work full time for the marina. Bryce, her youngest, who has earned boat mechanic and entre- preneurship certifications, runs the day-to-day operations of Burnt Cabin. Her middle son, Jared Lubbers, has recently returned to provide IT and website support.

“I’m tickled pink that it’s become a family business,” Young says.

Plans include adding an indoor restaurant soon, as well as larger cabins and more parking. Above all, she intends to keep the marina family oriented.

“I saw how good the lake was for my family,” she says. “It was a time we sat the phones down and had fun together. I hear similar stories from others who come here, and I’m glad we can be part of creating that atmosphere.”

Category: Oklahoma Stories

Sign up for our Oklahoma Living Newsletter

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Get The Latest Edition

Get the app: