We were looking for a park that had plenty of amenities for the whole family to enjoy. Typically, our camping/hiking trips are just for my wife and dogs with intentions of long rigorous hikes. However, this weekend we needed a place to take an inexperienced party.
Besides having to navigate around bridge construction on highway 38, this was an excellent trip. We started the day by heading straight to the visitors center, nature trail, and auto tour.
The nature trail was perfect for my 3-year-old niece to walk. Occasional benches, mowed and manicured paths, and designated lookouts were excellent for everyone in our party. The auto tour was literally a one way driveable trail through the park flanked with scenic views making nature accessible for those unable walk long distances or rough terrain.
Next we drove to the salenite crystal digging areas. There are designated sections of the park where patrons can dig for salt crystals. There is no charge, and the scenery is like nothing else in Oklahoma. Bring a shovel, dig about a foot down and sift through the sand to find crystals of different shapes and size. Note, your car will likely get salty, so make sure to wash it off quickly afterward to avoid any erosion.
We camped near the spillway on the south side of the lake. The spillway offered a really cool view and has stairs that lead right to the waters edge. Campsites were tidy, mowed, and well maintained.
Great Plains State Park is a nice park that I feel is overshadowed by the Wichita National Wildlife Refuge just 25 minutes northeast. This park is very nice, and has a beautiful blue lake. Its restrooms are clean, and full-time staff is friendly and helpful. Lots of RVs, but the campsites are far enough away to avoid the noise.
When we visited, the wind was very strong. I've been to the Wichita Mountains a ton and I know the wind can pick up quite a bit there, but without the shelter of the rocks/mountains, the wind can go wild here. If you get a campsite by the lake, make sure you're anchored in or by trees! The trails weren't very well marked, but the beautiful water made up for it.
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.
As another reviewer mentioned, this is a popular area for rock crawling and 4-wheeling. We were not prepared for that when we visited. If you're into high-octane, loud exhaust, and big tires - have at it. For us, we were looking to enjoy some quiet time by the water.
The park itself is very beautiful and I want to note how exceptionally kind our Ranger was. He visited with us for a while, brought our dogs treats, and was an excellent host.
Although the park was really very pretty and the water was clear, we will likely not be visiting again because of the 4-wheelers - just not our thing.
Natural Falls is a great little 'destination' outdoor park. There are places to camp, but like other reviewers have noted, the park has a lot of foot traffic, and offers more for families than for someone seeking solitude.
We however did have fun 'hiking' the short trail to the falls, which were very pretty. Throughout the hike there are plenty of places for photographs and excellent views.
The park has plenty of benches, picnic tables, a playground and even a fun disc golf course. The course cuts through the center of the park, so you must be careful of pedestrians. Also, the layout is a little difficult to figure out, but not impossible. One notable hole is from the top of a 200' hill downward to a swinging basket. All and all, a fun place for families, groups, and those looking for a place that offers outdoor entertainment for lots of different interests.
Arcadia Lake is a great little lake north of Oklahoma City about 30 minutes. It is definitely a weekender party lake, but the campgrounds are well maintained and facilities are kept up well. There are trails, boat ramps, and 'beaches,' but we go for the two disc golf courses. There are two back to back courses that are really well maintained, and are well designed. Whoever mows the course must play disc golf because they do a great job of defining the fairways. The courses are definitely worth the $6 fee to enter the park.
P.S. There are quite a few ticks out in the summer time. So bring the bug spray if you'll be in the tall grass at all.
This campsite is one of the cleanest I have ever visited. The bathrooms are incredibly nice, and the campsite platforms are superb. For fun we went to one of the ranger lectures about nocturnal wildlife. The trails are nice, long, and there is water in some areas, but they are not well marked and have become slightly overgrown.
Carson National Forest in Cimarron is absolutely beautiful. We hiked near Shuree Ponds and camped between Ash Mountain and Little Castillo Peak. The weather was all over the place, but the views were stunning. Bear precautions are necessary. Water was plentiful as the streams and creeks were rapid with snow melt. We will absolutely be returning!
McGee Creek is one of my favorite parks. From OKC, it's about a 3.5 hour drive, but it is well worth it. This little park is very quiet and not heavily trafficked. The trails are wonderful, and it's in close proximity to the lake. The beginning of the trails are really well manicured, but as you get into the deeper parts of the trail, they can get a little hairy because they aren't visited often. I've always enjoyed my stay at McGee Creek.
Robbers' Cave is a really cool little cavernous area. The campsites are nice, and within walking distance to short, easy trails. I found the park to be relatively high trafficked, and the actual 'cave' part was very busy the day we visited. There are nice places to cycle, and the campsites are in the trees and up a little ways from the road, so you don't have neighbors too close, which is nice.
I would give this park 5 stars, but really there is one thing (out of the park's control) that is keeping me from doing so: this park has a tick and chigger infestation. We visited in the fall of 2015 and were practically eaten alive! The campsites are right near the water, have a wonderful kid's area, nice boat ramps, and walkable access to trails. The trails are long and wooded. We hiked the entire 10 mile loop and it was reasonably marked. Within close proximity to town if you need anything. Bring some serious bug spray though!
We were driving through to Oklahoma City from Carson National Forest and decided to pitstop here along the way. This was a really wonderful park with very nice amenities. The bathrooms and showers were clean, the ranger was kind and accommodating, and the campsites were well manicured. The lake was beautiful and clear. I would absolutely recommend this park, and look forward to returning.
Arrowhead State park is located near Lake Eufaula. It has a very nice visitors center where you can pay for campsites and purchase firewood. The park is near a golf course, and most camp locations are right near the water. The hiking trails were nice.
The Wichita Mountains is the park we frequent the most. It's only about an hour and a half from Oklahoma City and has really wonderful tourist center, trails, and campgrounds. The scenery of The Narrows, Charon's Garden, Elk Mountain, and the Holy City are wonderful. Doris Campground will fill up quickly on weekends, so reservations are suggested. Join 'Friends of the Wichitas' for exclusive tours of the private areas of the park and access to stargazing and wildlife events. Drive up Mount Scott for beautiful views of neighboring Lake Lawtonka, and wonderful sunsets.
This is a really great park in Major County, Oklahoma. Very close to other natural sites like, Little Sahara and the Gloss (Glass) Mountains. We prefer tent camping in the canyon area, but be forewarned that it can be cold at night. The tour is enjoyable, and 3 species of bat can be seen frequently. All and all a great little park.
As Oklahoma's highest point of elevation, Black Mesa is a bucket list destination for any Okie. Well maintained campgrounds, restrooms, and amenities. Very little light pollution, so the starscapes are always beautiful. Campsites are located outside of the actual 'Black Mesa', but a short drive will get you to the trailhead. Trail is simple and easy to follow. Near the trail head is also 3-corners, and fossilized dinosaur footprints. Definitely worth a visit.