Nestled in Southeastern Oklahoma, Robbers Cave State Park offers all of your standard camping amenities, along with a haunted cave. (We’ll get to that later.)
The park encompasses 8,246 acres, and terrain that ranges from 300 to 1,500 feet above the surrounding area. Water lovers can make use of the park’s 189 lake acres via Lake Carlton, Lake Wayne Wallace, and Coon Creek.
Robbers Cave State Park is largely covered in old growth forest. The highest elevation offers beautiful views of the surrounding Sans Bois Mountains.
Campers’ Insider Tips for Enjoying Robbers Cave State Park
The park is steeped in old west lore and is extremely popular with locals and tourist alike.
1. Go Searching for History and Ghosts
If you’re a history lover, this park is for you. The park itself was formed in 1936 and earned its name from a cave located on the property. Robbers Cave was frequented by famous outlaws of western lore, including Belle Starr and possibly Jesse James. Originally used by Civil War deserters on both sides, the later part of the 19th century saw it used as a hideout for bandits such as the James and Younger gangs and other nefarious individuals who conducted heists and raids in the area.
Belle Starr married into a well-known outlaw family in the area and lived in a small cabin about 20 miles from the cave. The lodge at Robbers Cave State Park bears her name and some carvings purportedly by outlaws can still be seen on the walls of the cave itself. The trail to the cave rises to an elevation of about 80 feet; campers should be aware that the trek can possibly offer vertigo in places, making it quite the thrill!
“The hiking trail to the cave is steep and rocky with big drop-offs, so be careful with small children. It is a ¾ of a mile trail that my son absolutely loved. He was trying to find the robber that was hiding out. The hike was worth every hair-raising nervous parent moment.” — The Dyrt camper Kyle H.
2. Enjoy Private Campsites
At Robbers Cave State Park the crowds don’t spoil the tranquility that most campers seek, due to the fact that the camping area is separated from the day-use area by Highway 2, which bisects the park. Most of the sites are placed within dense areas of trees which helps ensure privacy as well. Campsites near the entrance tend to be busier especially on the weekends but the natural sound filter of the trees helps to keep the noise down.
Some of the park’s facilities are dated, but functional, while other are more modern. In addition to the lodge, cabins, RV hookups and primitive campgrounds, park visitors can also book stays in yurts or a lake hut for creature comforts. The park also offers equestrian camping, a unique offering for campers who like to explore trails on horseback.
3. Get in on the Activities
Robbers Cave Park rangers are knowledgeable and there is a nature center with numerous displays, activities and presentations throughout the season. The park office provides an updated list of various activities, tours or events happening in the park during each week so pick one up when you get there.
“We did a hayride that lead us through the park to the stables where there is a petting zoo. We saw the second largest pine tree in Oklahoma and drank water from an artesian well. They also had a campfire with stories and smores one night, a cane pole fishing class, and even a tour of Lake Carlton by canoe.” — The Dyrt Camper Kyle H.
4. Book early
This campground is popular, especially during the height of summer when families are looking for a location that will please everyone. The long list of things to see and do at the park include hiking, biking, rappelling, horseback riding, and enjoying the many activities available on the park’s waterways. Many campers who frequent Robbers Cave State Park return every year so if you plan to book a camping space, cabin or room in the Belle Starr Lodge, be sure and reserve well in advance.
5. Bring Cash & Change
While most of the extra activities, such as the petting zoo, miniature golf, golf cart and watercraft rentals, within Robber’s Cave State Park are available for a nominal amount, be aware that almost everything costs something. So, plan in advance for these extra expenses.
“While this is a very built-up campground with many activities and is relatively crowded, it does not feel like a theme park since all the activities are tied to nature. Great place and perfect to bring less experienced campers.” — The Dyrt Camper Dan N. Camp Here