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This park is nestled in the red rock hills of close north central Oklahoma with its curved and tree-filled landscape hiding awaiting adventures and treasures to be discovered! The landscape’s curves, twists and turns produce moments of discovery including natural springs abundant with icy cold, clear water flowing from rocky walls and gurgling streams as one winds through pathways of wild wooded areas.
Options for all levels of outdoor-lovers include the lodge, with hotel-type accommodations, restaurant and outdoor seating area to the more adventurous Tipis for those who want to experience a more “close encounter” with nature!
Certainly something for everyone including the good sized lake with recreation for the whole family!
Visiting this campground so was expecting similarities between it and the Guthrie Lake campground as they are both maintained by the city do Guthrie. But I was pleasantly surprised as the road turned to packed rock and dirt and started to get more and more remote in appearance. I noticed equestrian crossings and trails and also signs marking arc access points before entering.
When arriving to the lake itself traffic splits off into one way lanes. You pass a house like structure which serves as a paystation for entry, though when I visited no one was there to accept my money and I didn’t see a self pay area.
The boat ramp and fishing pier is the first thing you see when entering the park with large parking and easy water access. There are a few picnic tables at this point to enjoy the day use space. Just beyond that a swimming “beach”. This was a little perplexing to me because there was less than a foot of red dirt sand then water which was marked as appropriate. The beach itself was tiny but it was nice to see they had created a space unique to swimming in the area for safety. No also noticed an abundance of naked signs about life jacket safety which I thought was great!
As you continue to drive away the more commercial day use area there are 7 campsites each with large parking areas, grills, fire rings, picnic tables and plenty of room to spread out in a tent or RV. These sites do not have hook ups but what they lack there they make up for in lake views. Each site had a clear view of he lake and water access only a short distance from your parking area.
Restrooms are only port a potty units and with recent winds some of these had been knocked over or damaged by tree limbs, so that is something to consider.
I really liked that this location by far seemed more established than the other city maintained option and also had more privacy overall.
Call ahead if you want to stay here on a weekend since there are limited sites and reserve in advance
Check weather before traveling, it is very common for bad weather to roll through this area and with all of the trees you want to make sure you are safe.
In a pleasant change of pace for camping I pulled into this location to check out the options which exist in this region for camping in a tent. Wow was a pleased when I discovered that this location was designed for tents only!!
The pros were great water access, flush toilets, great parking and access to a self pay station. The cons, completely primitive and the roadway is pretty close to the camping area.
This location is maintained by the City of Guthrie. They have nice parking lot and boat ramp at this location in addition to a fishing pier. A lot of people choose to pull off into the zone deemed camping however for a more shaded coverage when fishing. With that being said there is still plenty of room to have you own little piece of comfort.
You are supposed to park and walk in the 100 yards to the campsites however I did notice that locals drive into this area. It is pretty open and the main concern is that you pay for day use or overnight uses.
There are some scattered picnic tables and trash cans however only one are which has bbq grills and this are is pretty removed from the designated camping zone.
I noticed when I was visiting a lot of traffic down the access road which wasn’t loud really but could be distracting if trying to relax. The traffic was mainly from the residential area which also surrounds the lake.
Overall I really liked this area for day use but am not completely sold on it as a camping area.
If you are wanting a nice camping experience, you need to try out Roman Nose State Park. During the Fall and Winter months the lake provides great Trout Fishing that is stocked every 2 weeks. the Campgrounds are well kept with fire pits, Grills and several sites protected by trees. The new restrooms at the Canyon Vista are extremely nice. it has 4 individual Bath Suites; however bring quarters for the hot showers. The Park itself also offer horsebacking, Canoes, Paddleboats, Swimming pool, Miniature Golf, and a full 18 hole Golf course. this is a great place for hiking as well.
CLICK HERE for full video on this location including camping accommodations and dig site information
Finding a campground which also offers unique activities is something I truly enjoy. While many might have hiking or lake activities, finding something which is a bit outside of the box is a little more of a rare find, especially in certain areas of the country. Living next to Oklahoma and exploring it most of my life, I always thought that Oklahoma’s camping was just an extension of Texas, very similar in nature, climate and vegetation. That was until I discovered the Great Salt Plains State Park in northern Oklahoma.
Removed from much of popular civilization the campground is pretty well off the beaten path. Neighboring the small community of Jet, you will drive for miles and miles seeing only farmland with an occasional silo marking a town in this section of Oklahoma. Then out of nowhere the farms transition into a white glaze which is unmatched by the lands around. It almost looks as though snow is laying in the distance, but snow it is not…. It is salt!
Pulling into the Great Salt Plains State Park there are a variety of options for accommodation you will want to explore. Offering cabins at a reasonable$99 a night, unimproved camping for$14 and RV camping from$22-$25 per night the price point is right on target for most campers. But one thing to note is that the campgrounds themselves are not directly on the Salt Plains, instead these are located closely to the waterways of the location, giving a much cooler and more shaded place to enjoy your time away from home.
With a variety of camping options also comes a variety of vantage points, with some campsites in the more improved locations highlighting the shoreline of the Arkansas River while others overlook the lake from beyond the spillway. I was very pleased with the views available and the variety of options for anglers, boaters and campers alike. This did not feel strictly like a lake campground like so many of the camps do in this region.
The office of the grounds does close rather early at 4 p.m. so it made catching staff a bit harder as there didn’t seem to be anyone actively patrolling the park, with the exception of the dig site for the salt plains…(yes, I said dig site… but we will get to that in a moment). With that being said and also limited cell service, you really need to make sure you are prepared before coming to this remote location.
Of the many camping loops, the one closest to the campground office seemed the least interesting to me personally. There was limited tree coverage, spaces were closely packed together and the restroom was only a port a potty, which in the Oklahoma sun can become a little less than desirable to visit. This portion of the park seemed to be designed mostly for RVs.
Another one which slightly was confusing to me was the official primitive site campground. There is a small community of homes which border the lake on this side and a small stretch of campground separates the homes from the shoreline itself. This seemed a bit uncomfortable for me camping solo to be basically right in someones backyard. This site had beautiful tall trees, great site spacing and the view was amazing so it was a bit unfortunate that this site was so close to everyone’s backyard.
The most appealing sites to me were those along the river which had amazing views and some of the most improved restrooms at the park. These were capable of accommodating both tents and RVs and had connections and amenities which would far surpass other campsites. Here you could find running water, flush toilets and showers in addition to a playground for the kiddos, fish cleaning stations and trash services. A small outdoor chapel/ampitheater was available in this area as well which would be ideal for a group camp.
Sites in this area are the highest of the park ranging between $22 and$25 but they are equipped with picnic tables, fire rings, grills, lantern hooks and easy to pull in and out areas. You can literally walk to the water and be in the river playing or fishing in seconds from any site in this location.
But now to the points of interest of this park…. The Salt Plains!
The unique ecosystem of this area is one to come out and see. There are several observation points in which you can view the birds and other wildlife which call this area home. But one of the things which makes it differ so much from other habitats are the Selenite crystals which can be found as a result of the salt and water table in this area. Birds are drawn to these and often you will find small nests housing eggs lined in crystals. It is unique to say the least.
But if you are not a bird watcher, there is still something for you…. Digging for Crystals! Yep, you can get hands on and dig into the plains around 2 feet down and find that the water will start flooding into the hole you created. From here you simply need to splash water along the sides of your new dig and expose your jewels to take harvest. Sound to good to be true? Well it is not! It really is that easy!!
And unlike the locations across the country which tell you to not take the sands, dirt, rocks or formations with you, you can take everything you find home with you!!
It is a great activity which can leave you busy for minutes, hours or even days and something which is fun for the entire family. On my trip we started early on an August morning and dug for approximately 3 hours. We brought our own sifters, a few jugs of water for cleaning off our finds and a shovel which seemed to be all we needed to find more than our fair share of crystals.
Crystals come in many shapes and sizes but the most coveted are large clusters or hourglass crystals. The crystals are mineral rich and appear to have a chocolate brown to redish tone based on the contents found in the soil which create them. And the unique thing about them and why we are allowed to take what we find home, is they are constantly regenerating.
Dig site is closed from October to April for migration of wildlife so you will want to plan a trip during the peak months to assure you will be able to dig. Don’t worry about crowds it isn’t terrible even on the most busy of days and there are plenty of crystals to be found.
- Come early if you need park assistance. Offices close at 4 p.m. however you can check into sites through the honor box system.
- Make sure to cruise Highway 11 when in the area and check out the Artesian Well which offers motorists a cool drink of water along the way which is fresh and delicious. Bring your jugs and fill them up if you would like.
- Cabin rentals must be booked in advance as there are limited numbers available.
For this trip knowing that the shade would be limited on the Great Salt Plains I made sure to pack the Banner& Oak Scout Hat in Charcoal Grey. This hat is designed as a summer hat with a snapback and breathable meshing to allow heat to escape and wind to come through.
I wanted something which would provide a bit more shade for my face than simply wearing a bandana to pull my hair back and this was a great fit for doing just that.
The hat itself is easy to size and while it is a men’s hat it easily could be sized down to fit my head and still feel comfortable yet secure. It did not appear bunched in the back like some men’s hats can when worn by women, I personally have a relatively small head so this is a huge deal to me.
The charcoal color did not attract as much heat as I thought it might and I felt comfortable even being out for 3 hours diggings and 2 hours exploring the day before.
The design of the hat is a must for anyone who, like myself, loves tent camping as the patch is a tent with a unique design and a great way to express yourself even in the most simplistic of ways.
I think a lot of people neglect to realize that they can wear a basic camping or exploring outfit and then completely change the vibe with the addition of the right hat. From the design and color to the way you wear your hat, all of these things are expressive of your own unique personality. I will definitely be adding this hat to my stack of hats I take on lengthy road trips, it has great feel to it, the brim was shaped well and mesh back makes it perfect for warm to hot climates.
- Don’t be afraid to explore different styles from Banner& Oak. There are several styles which are available to both men and women which can be great for taking your camping look to the next level.
- Never forget a hat, this is not only fashion but function as it provides a shade for your face and also can greatly aid in your internal temperature control. During winter months especially this is important as you lost the vast majority of your body heat through your head.
On my way north of Oklahoma City I was in search of a gas station on a pretty baron strip of highway. I saw a few signs for a local community of Perry and thought I would check it out along the way. Just off the highway at exit 185 heading toward Highway 77 there was a small truck stop but more surprisingly located just beside as a part of the same property was roadside motel and RV stop.
I inquired within and was informed that they have nightly as well as weekly rates available and often are frequented by tourists passing through on the main highway.
There are only 16 pull through locations but they do allow overnight tent stay, although there is not a discounted rate for tents.
The property is limited on shade but does have basic amenities and proximity to quick feel before hitting the road again.
The restrooms are quite nice and offer showers and laundry services as well. They do allow pets and didn’t seem to have an additional charge for this. If you are looking for an easy access location this one is great for a quick pull off however if you are looking for more recreational style campgrounds look at Perry Lake which is only a short distance away.