Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri

What Happened to Party Cove?

May 8, 2018 by Michael Kiel

Ahh... Party Cove. Lake of the Ozarks veterans remember Party Cove as the place to be on most summer weekends. Upwards of several thousands of boats would visit this Lake hot spot known for, according to Four Loko, “public sex acts and water cannons, in no particular order.” Four Loko actually named Party Cove the premier party spot, specifically on Labor Day weekend.

party cove lake of the ozarks
Photo Credit: Lake Ozark Pics

However, as time goes on and new fads come around, the popularity of Party Cove, located at Anderson Hollow Cove near the 4 MM of the Glaize Arm, has diminished. “What happened to Party Cove?” The question has been asked more times than we can count. Here we try to debunk the (somewhat) mystery.

The Popularity of Swim-up Bars

Party Cove has been around for over 50 years and much has changed throughout the years. One could say the new popularity of the pool bars at Lake of the Ozarks had a role in the decline of Party Cove. Many Lake bars and restaurants have put in large pools with swim-up bars this past summer. Places like Backwater Jack’s, Coconuts, Dog Day’s, Redhead, and so many more jumped on this trend.

With the addition of these pools, many lake goers are now gravitating to these pools and hanging out for the day. Many of these establishments even have a second pool that’s designed to be more family-friendly for kids and their parents to enjoy. However, these pools just started to pop up and Party Cove has been dying out long before this. So, pool bars are not the only thing to blame.

The Negative Side of Social Media

There is one thing that plays a huge role in the diminishing of Party Cove. It is at our fingertips and it is not going away anytime soon. Social media.

With a smartphone, one could easily snap a candid photo or video, upload it on various forms of social media, and now this not-so-flattering post is out there for the world to see. Doesn’t sound so great, does it? This is a huge concern for those who go to Party Cove to have adult fun and let loose.

Social media plays a big role in many people’s lives. We have families, friends, and jobs that could all be affected by what is posted on the Web. Before, Party Cove goers’ only worry was having a designated captain, but now, they have to worry about if their every move ends up on the Internet.

The Increase of Water Patrol

Speaking of designated captains, the word among many Party Cove veterans is the increase of Water Patrol boats in the area also played a role. With the number of people that attended Party Cove along with the activities that they took part in, it is understandable why they felt the need to increase their patrol.

party cove lake of the ozarks
Photo Credit: News Tribune

However, the increase in Water Patrol made some visitors feel like they were under a microscope. They felt like they couldn’t let loose like they wanted to. While many boaters felt they were being safe, a few pushed the limits. In the end, Water Patrol wanted boaters and their passengers to be safe, but some boaters viewed it as harassment and a way for the state to generate more revenue.

Due to the decline of Party Cove’s popularity, the “No Wake” buoys have been removed. Now, if you are visiting Party Cove, you need to be more aware of your surroundings. Boaters coming into the cove don’t have the obligation to slow down anymore, which can create issues for boaters that are coved out, floating on a raft, trying to enjoy a summer afternoon.

missouri state water patrol lake of the ozarks
Photo Credit: Kelley McCall, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Many boaters have found new cove-out spots throughout the Lake. Some are more family-friendly than others. Is there a chance for a Party Cove revival? We’ll have wait and see.

Where are your favorite spots to cove-out at the Lake? What are some of your favorite memories of Party Cove?

Michael Kiel