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You can’t camp at the actual Salt Plains. We spent the day here and had such an awesome time. I took kids ages 3-12 and they all had a blast. Make sure to bring metal shovels and metal hand shovels bc the plastic ones will break, you will want sand buckets, egg cartons to put the crystals in bc when they come out they are still soft and brittle, sunscreen, lots of water, towels, baby wipes, a umbrella if you have one (we didn’t need it but a lot of people prefer them). I can’t stand sand/salt on me (think nails on a chalk board feeling) so I needed to shower pronto afterwards and couldn’t so lots of water to rinse off with is a good thing to have. You will have sand and salt all over your car inside and out FYI lol.
They have just about anything you would want. Sites on the water, large shaded sites, pull thrus. Nice playground. Two issues. 1. It’s really hard to get a spot. First come first serve. Not who put things in the site first, but who actually puts money in the box first. This leads to a lot of arguments that I witness almost every time we’re at Arcadia. 2. Community water. Sometimes you need 2 or even 3 hoses to reach the water. Campsite wise,this is some of the best camping anywhere near OKC. Also a ton of deer. See them everyday.
This campsite can host one smaller RV / camper and is in the large backyard of a private residence. Host was friendly and available as needed. Very private, adorable campfire setup with lights and public table included. Fresh eggs available from chicken coop! Booked on Hipcamp. Treehouse cabin listing available separate booking.
The camping at Great Salt Plains State park is a fine place to park the camper and stay, but most of the adventure is elsewhere in the park/refuge. You'll need to drive to get to almost everything.
We stayed at the Sandy Beach Campground. This review is for that campground. If I had to do it again (I will) I would stay at the River Road Campground. It's much more shaded, more isolated and along the river. Not to mention the awesome Cliff Swallow flights from under the river bridge!
The campsite is clean and simple. The sites on the western edge have more shade than the rest, the sites in the center of the loop can feel strangely exposed with little in the way of natural boundaries between sites.
Noise level: Look… this is a OK stake park lake site. Yes it's attached to a national refuge. Yes there are awesome things to see and do. But it's still a lakeside park. So, expect lots of huge 5th wheels with big outdoor speakers. In the summer I would guess there will be at least one camper who wants to share his music with you. It's a shame… but it's true. There is also a fighter training base adjacent to the park run by the Air Force. It's not as obnoxious as bubba's music, but just know it's there. And most of the time they just fly during the day.
You can walk to the lake and the swimming area near the dam. It's a day use area, so there's some folks that like to leave some trash, but you know… pick it up for them and carry on.
Now… when you leave there and head into the national refuge, that's where things get great. What a beautiful, unexpected landscape. The north side of the refuge has great hiking trails that are full of wildlife. The southwest side of course has the crystal digging area. It's really a great place to spend a weekend. Word to the wise, in the fairer months, get on and off the salt plains early to avoid the heat and the day trippers.
Overall, this is a serviceable campsite that can serve for a great launching point for exploring/hiking/birding in the refuge. The wildlife present is outstanding.
FYI… no, you can't fly your drone here. There is a national refuge, a state park and an Air Force base. It took me a long time to arrange all the clearances required, but my flight was legal.
This campground has one of the simplest, user friendly, online reservation site I've ever used. For me, thats a definite plus. The tent sites are massive, equipped with a table, fire ring, grill, and parking. Four sites are near the swim area (9-12), site 9 and 10 are nearest to the toilets - which are clean, sites 1-8 are tucked back in the woods a little. There are RV hookup sites on the inside of the campground loop. Amenities include a playground, hiking/mtb trails, swim area, fishing dock, and a bait shop. Day use fee is 6$, overnight tent fee is 10$. This area is subject to burn bans and showers are located at the west campground.
The lake is owned and operated by Oklahoma State University. The grounds were well mowed, some of the structures are dated but well cared for. Super-friendly and helpful people at the permit office. The store was closed when we arrived.
The quirky bit is the number of camping spaces that are by annual permit. That means a lot of of the shore line is taken up by permanent campers, weekend campers that leave their rigs, student living and even residents (in campers). The lake being close to Stillwater, it looks like a number of students and such commute from the lake.
None of this was problematic for us, but the level of care each annual permit holder takes on their lot range from pristine to near dilapidated.
We stayed in Beaver Cove and found it to be clean, well-maintained, friendly and quiet. No real privacy buffer between sites, but the spacing was comfortable.
The park ranger made several passes through, even though the campground was only about 1/4 occupied.
Lots of birds, including a resident blue heron the locals named Charlie. Wonderful views of the cove. We stayed in lot 31 and a few large elm trees gave our campsite evening shade.
Nice fire rings and sturdy picnic tables.
All in all, a good stay.
There are three main campground parks around the lake. Spring Creek and Scissortail Parks are off 15th. Central Park is off the 2nd Street entrance.
Spring Creek and Scissortail were both full, so we ended up at the Spring Creek Park.
In Spring Creek, there is primitive camping in Bobcat Campground and King Snake Campground. We stayed in the Cottonwood Campground which had a mix of camping types.
We stayed in an RTT, so all of the spots were easy access for us, but I saw some big rigs and setups with boats, so it looked like it was easy to park for most anyone.
The spaces were ample sized and most all of them had enough trees surrounding them to offer decent privacy. They all had had fire pits, grills and picnic tables. They all looked pretty level.
Restrooms and showers were passable, but not much better than that.
The campground was pretty full, but pretty quiet. No problems with noise.
Lots of trash cans around, but they were all full or overflowing. Most of the campsites had some lingering trash around. Definitely could have been cleaner.
My son had a ball and this place isn't far from home, so we will probably checkout the other campgrounds on 15th the next time we are there.
In addition to easy setup and getting around, the other thing that makes this great for new campers is that the city of Edmond is just a few miles away for a full list of stores and restaurants. Or head east on 2nd (66) and go to Pop's in Arcadia for a burger and a selection of over 500 sodas.
And finally, lots of Oklahoma hospitality in case you do have problems or need a hand.