Located just 25 miles northeast of Lawton, the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge was established in 1901 to help preserve and provide habitat for native bison, Rocky Mountain elk, white-tailed deer, and wild turkeys. It is one of the oldest wildlife refuges in the United States, and consists of nearly 60,000 acres of natural grasslands, small lakes and river bottoms. Today, it is home to more than 50 species of mammals, 240 varieties of birds, 100 reptiles, amphibians and fish, and more than 800 types of plants. Visitors are invited to discover and observe many of these unique species by exploring the refuge’s Visitor Center and 15 miles of nature walks and hiking trails. There are also interpretive programs and guided tours available for learning about everything from the refuge’s wildflowers to its seasonal eagle population.
Visitors to the refuge are invited to stay in the Doris Campground, located near Quanah Parker Lake. This year-round campground offers a total of 90 campsites, ranging from drive-in tent and RV sites with electrical hookups, to more primitive, walk-in tent sites. There are also two group campsites, and a few ADA accessible sites. Sites are mostly wooded, and equipped with picnic tables, fire pits and cooking grills. Amenities include both flush and vault toilets, a shower building, water faucets, and waste receptacles; a dump station is available near the campground entrance. Backcountry camping is available in the Charons Garden Wilderness Area. Dogs are welcome on the refuge, but must remain leashed. Campsites are available first-come, first-serve only; rates are $8–$20/night.
Inside the wildlife preserve there are not a lot of camping options as the attempt to keep the wildlife wild is the primary focus. However if you are looking to stay inside the area, you will want to check out Doris Campground, located centrally in the property.
Camping options at Doris vary with both primitive and improved options. 47 sites without electricity offer only shaded retreat, regular sized pull ins and basic amenities with picnic tables and fire rings. However the improved sites offer electricity and larger pull ins for mid to large sized RV units. There is an additional set of camping options which are hike in style sites with a common parking area, these are a little harder to get to as the area is overgrown.
Sites range in price points from$12 to$24 and all have access to common spigots and restrooms.
One restroom is a bit more updated but offers only restrooms no showers while the less updated offers showers but is a bit creepy.
Something you will want to be mindful of staying at this site is wildlife. While many campgrounds often experience a wild animal or two, the raccoons here are quite menacing and snakes are very common.
If you do decide to come out to the Wichita Mountains, I suggest checking out some of the many hiking options and view points. The tower trail is a great one for views of the lake and terrain with minimal challenge and only some slightly uneven spaces from weathering and wash. Mount Scott is the highest point in the park and can be accessed through an invigorating hike to the top or through the scenic drive which features several pull offs and a parking area at the top.
Prairie Dog town is one of the more unique features of the park with dozens of colonies visible from several view points and pull offs. Being able to see the critters up close and personal will leave you smiling for hours. Walking throughout the preserve are buffalo and longhorns.
An extremely unique feature is the park’s Holy City, an area which was designated for use in the 20s and at its peak welcomed up to 250,000 people per year to an annual program performed on the hillside. This feature is unique in that it is a rock city constructed on the hillside which includes the story of Christ and also is the home of a chapel modeled after one that George Washington once attended in Virginia. A very unique piece of history.
Good, large sites for tents and RVs. Doris has semi-primitive sites for tents with picnic tables and fire rings as well as electric sites with hookups. Some sites offer a view of Quanah Parker Lake. All sites at Doris are walk in. There is an unmanned Paystation at the entrance but there is also a friendly campground host who lives onsite. Alcohol is prohibited everywhere within the refuge. Please note that at the time of this review (3/2020) there is NO potable water anywhere in the WMWR. An e.coli contamination in 2017 is still not resolved and any an all water is considered unsafe, including all streams and lakes. Bring in your own water, the closest store is at least 30 mins away.
We have stayed at Doris 2 or 3 times over the last few years. It’s a large site with over 60 campsites that are fairly well spaced out. Separate RV/powered locations from drive up and walk in campsites.
Lot’s of great activities in the area: hiking, climbing, fishing, wildlife and other options.
My primary complaint of Doris is that it get’s rowdy on the weekends. On our most recent trip a group of locals pulled in at about 10pm and partied until after 2am then left. They were not camping at all.
Doris Campground is an okay place to camp. There are 2 Bath houses in the campground. the first one by Loop E is more modern but does not have showers. the second one is by loop C and does have showers but it really needs to be updated. There are plenty of trees to provide shade in the campground but dont look for firewood on the ground as it appears they keep that picked up. You can purchase bundles of firewood at the entry gate for $5 per bundle. Each campsite has a fire ring and table and enough parking for 2 vehicles. This campground in on Federal Land and patrolled by Federal Game Wardens. While in the area it is recommended to visit Holy City and the unique town of Medicine Park. Also in Medicine Park there is a Creek that is stocked with Trout from November to March. There is free roaming Buffalo and Longhorn Cattle so dont be surprised if you see one in the Campground. There are numerous Lakes in the area to fish or boat in and numerous Hiking trails as well.
A private company owns (I think) and operates the campground. It’s nice and clean with good amenities. It does fill up on weekends quickly. The campground itself isn’t what I go to WMWR for but I’m not at all disappointed by the campground. Lots of trees and wildlife. Bison can and do walk through the campground which unique and pretty amazing.
There’s lots to do in the Refuge like shorter and somewhat long hikes as well as fishing and non-motorized boating. Watching wildlife like the bison and prairie dogs are very entertaining and remarkable. The towns of Meers and Medicine Park have their unique offerings as well. WMWR is a fabulous place to get away for flatlanders….or anyone really.
Buffalo, deer, turkey, and more can be glimpsed here. Nearly Primitive camping in a gorgeous natural setting.
The area is beautifully scenic and you will very likely see plenty of wildlife. We saw bison, elk and coyotes. We also enjoyed visiting the nearby town of Medicine Park.
Weekends at WMWR (Wichita Mountains Wildife Refuge)are very popular beginning early in the camping season making it difficult to find open spots by Friday evening. But that doesn’t keep people from trying late into the night.
The facilities are well maintained and allow anyone to choose very primitive to RV hookup and car/tent camping also. Always lots of friendly folks to visit and get hiking insights from. Many activities are available in WMWR. Hiking trails can be accessed directly from Doris Campground, or there are numerous other trails in other areas a short drive away. Carry in all your water with bovine (longhorn, buffalo) covering virtually all areas of the refuge. I have visited all months of the year.
We absolutely love camp Doris, because of the amazing wildlife that you see since you’re on a nature preserve, The campsites and facilities are very well-maintained and clean, with plenty of shade trees, and amazing hiking very close by! From easy to very difficult trails you can see several different ecosystems along the trails.