Our first Oklahoma camping trip lead us to Robbers Cave State Park in the southeastern portion of Oklahoma. It is located on more than 8,000 acres in the San Bois Mountains. The parks claim to fame is outlaws such as Belle Starr, the Dalton Gang, and Jesse James used it as a hideout from the law. This was going to be our first full week of vacation spent in the popup, and our first camping trip outside of Missouri. We selected Robbers Cave State Park for two reasons it’s distance was a little over 4 hours away, and the number of amenities it offered for our 4 year old on our extended outing.
The first thing this park did was challenge my perceptions on what the Oklahoma landscape is. This is a park is located in an old growth pine forest, located in the rocky terrain of the Sans Bois Mountains. The park is split in half by Hwy 2 with the east side of the park consisting of the RV campgrounds, cabins, and Belle Starr Lodge. The west side of the park includes Lake Carlton, the equestrian camps, swimming pool, miniature golf, and nature center. This layout was negative in the fact that we could not walk between two sides with my son because of the distance and elevation change, you could rent golf carts if you would like. The positive was that it kept traffic down in the campground from the day use visitors of the park. We booked site 23 in the Old Circle Campground, when booking on the Oklahoma state park website there are no photos of the sites, only short descriptions…sometimes. I will let you know there is a youtube video that someone made driving around the old circle campground. I used this to take a look at our site after booking it. Site 23 was a pull through site with full hookups located only about 5 feet off the main campground road. This could be a problem if the park was busy and there is a lot of traffic. Lucky for us we were camping through the week and this was not an issue. The site then on the opposite side held our own little secluded spot surrounded by pine trees down a slight slope from camper. We had a fire circle, picnic table, grill, and lantern post. We loved this site for this very reason. I will post pictures of both sides of our site below so you can get a visual. The bathroom and shower house is located in the middle of the old circle loop. The structure is very old and very dated stone structure, where you might find frogs sitting on shower curtains, spiders, and lizards (Those are just the ones that I witnessed). There is a newer shower house located outside of the Whispering Pines campground, next to the campground office and store. If you go to the newer one to take a shower make sure you have some quarters, or some dollar bills, because the showers cost money. Four quarters will get you 6 minutes worth of shower time.
When we were not at camp we spent most of our time exploring the west side of the park. We spent two afternoons swimming in Lake Carlton. The designated swim area has a very rocky drop-off for an entrance, but once out it was very nice swimming. There is a concrete pier that is located along the swim ropes that you can climb up and jump off of. Besides swimming you could rent peddle boats, canoes, and paddle boards to go exploring. There was a pool with two water slides and a splash zone, it is $5 dollars to enter for the entire day. My son also got to play miniature for the first time at the course located next to the pool. One word of warning the golf course is very dated with carpet ripped or completely missing in spots. This did not slow us down at all, it just needs a little work. They also sell shaved ice at the miniature gold building.
The Oklahoma Park staff were very knowledgeable, friendly, and willing to answer any of my questions. Also when you get to camp they will give you a schedule of all the events that are going on throughout the week you are staying. 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 anartesian 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. Just make sure you have cash because each item does cost money.
The last thing we did before leaving Robbers Cave State Park after our three night stay was to go and search for the outlaws in the cave ourselves. I will give you a spoiler alert, 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.
It is a consensus with my family that we will need to return to this park again. It has so much to offer, and we did not even touch on the many miles worth of trails to hike or go for a horseback ride on. We look forward to our return to continue the exploring and searching for the elusive robbers.
This is where my love of camping started. I spent many summers as a child camping at Montauk State Park with my grandparents. After those early years of riding my bike as a child around the campground loops, I now take my child there every year with the hope that he appreciates it as much as I do.
Montauk State Park is one of the Missouri Conservations four trout parks, and is located at the headwaters of the beautiful Current River. The Current along with the Jack’s Fork River make up the Ozark National Scenic Riverways National Park. Since it is one of Missouri’s trout parks you will find a majority of campers are there to fish. You can purchase a trout tag at the lodge for $3.00, and it will allow you to keep 4 trout per day with a possession limit of 8. The conservation will stock the Current on a nightly basis, based on number of tags sold the day before. The stretch of river from spring to the falls are some of my favorite fishing anywhere. I have a group of guys that get together every spring and fall for a trout fishing trip.
As the Current River winds its way through the valley, it creates one of the campground boundaries. This allows you to be near the river at all times, or even next to it, if you grab one of the spots on its banks. The campground is broken down into 4 separate loops, with loop 1 being the only basic section, all the others have electricity. I have spent more time recently camping in the basic section with the guys. We have used sites 115 for the space and 119 for the seclusion. Our family did camp on Mother’s Day on site 418, in loop 4. I would not recommend this site because you only have a small space between you and your neighbors.
There are two bathroom/shower houses with laundry facilities located in the campground, along with three campground host. You are able to purchase firewood and ice in the campground as well. Sites do go quickly so you will need to book months in advance.
The lodge has a full restaurant, as well as a diner style counter. My son love’s to go and sit at the counter to get ice cream. You will find menu item such as burgers, sandwiches, and salads, as well as a buffet on certain days. You can even order a sack lunch to take out to the river bank. The lodge also has a store stocked with camp essentials, souvenir items, and fishing supplies. If you do not have your own fishing poles, they have some for rent. You will also find the lunker board located here, so if you are lucky enough to catch a three pound trout bring it to have it weighed for your lunker patch.
If you decide not to fish, there are things to do such as take a tour of the mill when the naturalist does one of their demonstrations, hike the quarter mile trial to the springs (one of my son’s favorites, he likes to search for the water bubbling out of the ground), hike the longer 1.5 mile pine ridge trail, feed the fish at the hatchery, or take in one of the nature programs at the amphitheater. Also if you head out of the park on YY you will find Tan Vat Access located right outside the park on the Current. This is a great place to take young ones for a dip in its cool waters. Also you can take a gravel road out of the park to a funky little place called Bo’s Hollow. A family has built a small town in a field, where you can buy a bbq sandwich lunch, and take a model A ride to Ashley creek for swimming and a picnic.
I hope you get a chance to check out Montauk State Park. It is one of our family favorite destinations.
Our first camping adventure in the popup took us to Pomme de Terre State Park on Father’s Day of 2017. Pomme de Terre State Park is one State Park that is two completely separate campgrounds, split in half by Pomme de Terre lake. When booking pay attention to whether you are on the Hermitage side or the Pittsburgh side. Each campground has it’s own camp store, swim beach, boat launch, and sanitary disposal station.
We have camped three separate times at Pomme de Terre with all three campsites being in the 400 loop on the Pittsburgh side. This loop has been chosen due to its proximity to the bathrooms and the playground, these are key when having a 4-year-old. This loop is located in the woods with nice spacing between sites. Each site comes with a fire ring and covered picnic table. I will warn you that some of the sites on the left when you first pull into the loop are on an incline, so bring plenty of leveling pads with you if you have a trailer. If you are wanting to be close to the water this loop is not the one you will want to reserve. I would look more in the 300 loop, though those sites are gravel in case that is an issue for you, or look at the Hermitage side. The bathroom and shower house located at the entrance to loop 400 are some of the nicest that we have experience while staying in a state park. They are clean and well maintained. Located throughout the loops are vault toilets if you choose a site farther away from the main bathroom.
We enjoy the campground and marina on the Pittsburgh side. The marina is stocked with some camp essentials as well as a café for a quick bite. They also have boats, canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards for rent, for a list a prices here is the Marina’s website www.mofunparks.com. This is one of our son’s favorite stops on the trip, they have a nice selection of ice cream. The size of the marina is not large, and if it is busy the inside can be very cramped. We do prefer the swim beach on the Hermitage side it is located along a peninsula with ample room on busy days, as opposed to the Pittsburgh swim beach that is located in a cove without as much space.
When traveling between the two state parks you will travel through Hermitage, Missouri. They have a Dollar General, gas station, and some restaurants. I cannot speak for the restaurants, but we have used the Dollar General for supplies that did not make the trip. Located at the junction of Hwy 64 and Hwy 64B, just outside of the Pittsburgh side of the park, you will find an old building directly across from White’s Marine Center that is selling camp wood. The person that sells the wood will be out there sometimes, but if they are not, there is drop box mounted to one of the poles to leave money in. I was able to purchase a wheelbarrow load for $8.00, which is a much better deal than the small bundle they sell in the park for $5.00.
Pomme de Terre State Park has become a family favorite campground. We will be making a voyage here every year to continue exploring.