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If you are a fan of the Pioneer Woman aka Ree Drummond and love to travel Osage Hills State Park is your camping base. Park is about 45 minutes from the town of Pawhuska where the Mercantile & Pioneer Woman are based.
This state park is not far from where we live so we took a drive to see the foliage and scout out the camping area. There were some nice size sites for our RV, beautiful views, paved roads to push wheelchair around, even the primitive area, although not paved was good for pushing a wheelchair. . There is a large day area for picnics, a nice play ground, pool, trails, even tennis courts and a baseball field. Place to fish and just relax. . Definitely a nice place to get away and relax. My niece and nephews fave campground. . Tall Grass Prairie Preserve is close by as well. The Joseph H. Williams Tallgrass Prairie Preserve at 39,650 acres is the largest protected piece of tallgrass prairie left on earth. Urban sprawl and conversion to cropland have left this once expansive landscape, originally spanning across 14 states from Texas to Minnesota, at less than 4% of its original size . Take a drive through Tall Grass Prairie and you’ll probably see bison roaming.
We often go here when we need to change things up on our hiking schedule. The trails aren't marked but the park is small enough that you do not need signs. We haven't had an issue picking up a day use map at the check in counter or just looking at the signs throughout the park. The camping situation is really pretty decent. We stay on the main loop and have a table and fire ring. It can be loud but when we camp here we make sure to go late in the season or really early as the heat in the park is a serious concern. We have seen water snakes in this park so be careful when swimming. We can't tell them apart so we steer clear. The main loop is a little uneven so it may take some work finding a level spot in certain camp spots. The far end of the loop is the best, imo. If you are going to do just a short hike, I recommend going to the look out and finding the trail to the old CCC camp. The trail goes close enough to the spots that you can go off trail and really explore! This is a site that you want to go to as there isn't really anything else around.
I have visited this park numerous times and always have a good experience. It is a clean state park with good facilities and has easy access to get to the park. Very pretty tall grass and black jack oak rolling hills with spring fed streams and small ponds for fishing or kayaks. For those that follow the "Pioneer Woman", her mercantile store is within 30 minutes drive and any supplies can be found within 30 minutes drive the other direction. This park in the middle of the summer can be very hot and humid; it sets down at the bottom of the rolling hills and little breeze can make it uncomfortable; also during your hikes, an insect repellent is a must as the chiggers and ticks can be bad.
What a neat little park in Northeastern Oklahoma! What I really liked was that most of the park was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) during the Depression and New Deal eras. Many of the buildings were still in use including shelters and cabins. What I didn't like were the terribly short hours of the office- open 8:00-4:30, although no one was around as late as 8:30 in the morning. Back to the positives, the tent sites were separate from the RV sites by a good 1/4 mile so no worries about generators. I camped in site Q which was on the interior of the tent loop, but the prime spots were on the outside of the loop. If you can get site R you will be in heaven!. Each site had a picnic table and fire pit and there were nice level places for tents on all sites. There is a nice overlook in the tent loop to watch the sun rise over the valley. The bathhouse was clean and had electric. There were two shower stalls, but no doors or curtains, so best not be modest. The RV sites seemed well spaced and well maintained. There were several nice trails in the park, with one that left from the tent loop, but they weren't really well marked and it was difficult to find any trail maps. There is a pretty little lake near the entrance that you can rent canoes to take a spin around the lake, but again, it depends on whether someone shows up to man the office. Apparently I wasn't the only one struggling to deal with the office hours as someone just dumped their boat paddles and PDF's in front of the office door since there was no one to turn them in to.
We arrived here later in the day. We were here and it was chilly in November. Apparently the person working didn't anticipate any body showing up so late in the season. They were surprised and let us in for free. Its a pretty sweet camp right on the lake. 20-30 tent sites. As well as full RV hook ups.
Theres hiking, biking, and fishing in the area. We weren't really sure what to think about camping in Oklahoma and the camp site and people blew our expectations.
Osage Hills is historic for Oklahoma as it was developed by a CCC camp in the 30's. You have the ability to see the work they did and even hike to the camp itself. The park consists of approximately 5 miles of trails for hiking and a nice smaller lake for fishing. It also has a creek that you can swim in if the water is high enough. The park is on the smaller side and reservations are a must. We usually visit this park when it is cooler and the weather is dicey since it is only an hour from Tulsa. The upper section is for tents only and every time we go it is either not open or has a boy scout troop that takes it over. The bathrooms are a mix of typical Oklahoma State Parks 50's style run downish and one newer facility. I would recommend this park as a great place for family's that are camping with younger children or trying it out for the first time.
Our stay at Osage Hills was excellent. The showers and facilities were clean, the staff was friendly, and the trails were nice. We camped near the lookout hill which had a little bit of traffic, but not intrusive. We went in early fall and found a few scorpions - one in my shoe! So be on the lookout.
There are a few different trails, all well marked. Even though we didn't get out on the water, there was access and a nice lake. There is a shallow area with a few small 'rapids' where kids can play and explore. All in all, a really excellent campground. We plan on this being the campground we take our friends with kids to as there is lots to do, amenities are nice, and trails easy to navigate.
Osage Hills State Park is tucked away in the rolling hills and tall grass prairies of NE Oklahoma, and home to over 1100 acres of forest, lakes, creeks, trails, and fun. The park offers 20 fully-outfitted RV campsites, 8 rustic cabins, and over a dozen designated tent-camping sites. Advance reservations are recommended, but not required (if the designated camping areas are not full). The park also has a swimming pool, ball field, tennis courts, and an abundance of heavy concrete picnic tables available.
For the more adventurous, the park has easily-accessible lakes and creeks, hiking trails (easy-to-moderate in difficulty for the average, able adult), mountain biking trails, and scenic overlooks.
Wildlife is abundant throughout the park, but in my many experiences, have never been invasive of the camping areas. Depending on the season, ducks, geese, wild turkey, deer, squirrels, and many other forms of wildlife can be seen in proximity, with relative ease. Fishermen will enjoy the park's waterfronts, at Lookout Lake & Sand Creek, where plentiful bass, perch, crappie, and catfish can be had.
My family and I have made many great memories at Osage Hills over the years, it's a great place to get away for a weekend & enjoy nature. My favorite time of year to go would be early-mid fall, as the foliage can be truly brilliant & breathtaking. Highly recommended!
On our visit it seemed there was a family reunion going on. The campground was noisy and people were not respectful of ours. It was a bit trashy. The one bright spot was the trails around Osage Hills. The views of the rolling plains was worth the trip. We are planning on going back when the weather cools.