Mandy K.

Blanchard, OK

Joined June 2017

Mom & nature lover

Run of the Mill

About your average state park. They were clean and easily navigated. Nicely shaded, and several options for camping. Like other reviewers said, mix of tents and RVs and huge--I mean prehistoric cousins huge-- mosquitoes in low, treed areas.

The spring area has is a pretty area with a little trail and plaques with information. The pool is nice, and there are several playgrounds.

We stayed with our GS troop for a night and went to Alabaster Caverns for a bat cave tour then on to Gloss Mountains State Park (no camping, but a fun stop).

We didn't explore any trials, and I don't recall seeing trail heads.

Better Than Expected

I took my Girl Scout troop of Brownies and Juniors here the last weekend of April. I got there early on Friday so I could get enough campsites for us, since the sites are first-come, first-served. I think this is important because there aren't too many that are away from the RV campgrounds or that have shade. The grounds are pretty clean for a state park and with the resources they have available. We stayed in Beaver Den, which is near the bathrooms with a shower. There is a fantastic red cedar set back into the tree that the girls loved climbing and a little hill they spent plenty of time scaling.

Campsites have picnic tables, a grill, and a fire pit with a grate. The loops are small, so the water is close.

The park ranger was awesome. He drove by several times to ensure everything was fine. He let me know in the future to call the ranger on duty to see if the group campground would be available (because it is also first-come, first-served). They also give a 50 percent discount if they have a service project for scout groups, which is awesome. They came and talked to the girls about a service project and the importance of wearing a life jacket.

Something to pay attention to is that they charge by the tent, not by the campsite. Both Travel.ok and the signage at the park indicate it is $14 per campsite with no more than two tents per site.

Our girls did two horseback rides at the stables. Jennifer & Bre are awesome! There is a small petting zoo with a very spunky goose, some goats, a bunny, and a duck. The ride was fun and relaxing. The girls also want to play mini golf. The general store gave us a discount for being Girl Scouts, but I don't know if that's standard practice.

There are easy hiking trails for little kids and inexperienced people. We also went do the natural spring, which the girls enjoyed and hunted for crawdads.

The lodge has free Oklahoma state park passport books and stickers for kids. If you are familiar with the national park passport books then you'll want to snag one of these.

All and in the staff from the lodge, the stables, to the rangers, and general store all went above and beyond to make our stay great!

Birds-'n'-Bees Crash Course & Family Fun!

Floating the river is a popular pastime among us Oklahomans, especially those of the hormonal, sex-crazed age groups. On that important note, if you want to take your family or scout troop, do it on a weekday. Otherwise, you will be delivering narration to a live screening of Girls--and Boys--Gone Wild. Don't even think about what's swimming in those waters with you. If that's your cup of tea, get yourself on over!

That aside, the campgrounds at Eagle Bluff are fantastic! Clean, mostly shaded, and easy to get to from town. You can gather firewood and kindling or purchase at the shop for $5 a bundle. Travel trailers are in a separate part of the area. During the week, it is peaceful and quite enjoyable.

During peak season, it is extremely crowded on the weekends. Bathrooms can overflow, and it can be difficult to get an unreserved site or even float the river. Be aware of weather, as they will close as a flooding precaution during and after heavy rainfall.

If you go to float, get there early. All rafts/canoes have to be in by a certain time in the evening, and you don't want to be rushed. If you're doing the 12 mile, you keep your raft/canoe over night. There are plenty of sandbars to pull off the river and enjoy some time playing in the water or staging an impromptu dance party. In some parts, it's deep enough to jump off rocks, and there is a rope to swing off of.

Children under the age of 12 require a life vest at all times.

Recommended: get yourself some water shoes. Those rocky bottoms can hurt! Stow personal belonging--phones, key fobs, wallets, smokes & lighters--in a place other than your boat, if at all possible. If it is necessary to take them, store in durable, waterproof containers or Ziploc baggies. Be careful. I've seen too many people lose their stuff because they were too wasted and tossed a boat with everything in it.

No glass bottles. They frequently have river police out, so watch out for underage drinkers.

Open & Clean

We came when Doris Campground was full in the Wichita Wildlife Refuge and were pleasantly surprised. The weather was perfect--70s during the day and 50s at night, my ideal sleeping temps.

The campgrounds and restrooms are clean and well kept; however, there aren't a lot of sites with substantial tree cover. This was not a problem for us in October, but I bet it is stifling in summer and early-fall months.

The sites we stayed in were on the lake. The sunsets and sunrises are gorgeous over the gentle slopes of the land. There are rock formations the kids enjoy climbing all over.

It's maybe a 15-minute drive to the Wichita Wildlife Refuge. Even though there are sites in the refuge, Great Plains had a lot of visitors when were were there.

**UPDATE**
We came out with a Girl Scout Troop a year later (October 2018). The park was very crowded, which is fine, but tent sites are mixed with RV sites. Not only was the noise from RVs disturbing, many sites had obnoxious guests who stayed up drinking all through the night. 

I really wish parks would separate tents from RVs. 

It still is a nice area.

Scouting Outing

We visited Rock Creek on a Girl Scout family camp outing. The area is nice--lots of tree cover, which is essential in OK's hot summers and early falls. You are able to scavenge your own firewood and kindling; however, there are places in town to purchase.

The restrooms are clean, and the campgrounds are mostly clean. Leave no trace, y'all! Pack in, pack out! There are extremely convenient trash and recycling bins throughout the area and campgrounds. This is probably an issue because the area is large, with a lot of traffic, and not enough rangers (read: babysitters) to clean up after all the bodies coming in and out.

Rock Creek isn't as close to Little Niagara and the Travertine Nature Center as Cold Springs, but it's a short drive or a couple miles' walk. The springs do not disappoint. They are refreshingly cool and perfect to play in when walking on the trails. The spring on the Antelope Springs trail is drinkable. The kids filled up their water bottles where the water was coming out of the rock.

We saw some wildlife--deer, turkey, and owls.

There are other multi-use trails, such as biking, off Rock Creek and through other campgrounds, though we didn't get to check them out.

Don't forget: kids can take part in the FREE Junior Ranger program through the Travertine Center. Upon completion of a super easy and informative booklet, kiddos are sworn in as junior ranger and receive a patch and a badge. Pretty sweet deal, if ya ask me.

Noteworthy: Originally, we had reserved a group spot in Cold Springs, but I made the mistake of thinking it included two campsites in a loop when it only included one. Pay attention to that one, folks. The person on the awesome group campsite that I thought we had reserved made the same mistake. The reservation will list the loop, including the campsites in the loop. That doesn't mean you get all the sites.

Options to pay are online through recreation.gov or at the onsite kiosks. Convenient!

All in all, though it is a popular spot in OK, it's beautiful and cost effective. We will return as scouting groups and weekend family getaways. Though, I will be more careful regarding site selection.

Semi-Truck Pass

The campgrounds and the lake are absolutely beautiful. We even saw a lynx on the bank one morning! Ten minutes from town, right off the road--we thought we hit it good. But as soon as it got dark, the semis started trucking through, and that's all that was heard throughout the night.

Per all campsites, you'll need to buy your own wood. The office here may or may not be open, but you can get wood in town. We picked up our car decal in the on the bulletin board outside the office upon arrival. The grounds and restrooms are clean.

Great for some leisurely fishing, and there is a hiking trail, which connects to the Continental Divide Trail.

We stayed during the week, so there were not a lot of other visitors. It was quiet and peaceful--except for the road noise, of course. I probably wouldn't stay there again because of the noise throughout the night. If it weren't for that, I'd give it a 5. What a shame.

Sounds of Nature (and Reverse Beeping)

For those who are new-ish to camping and prefer car camping, Moraine is an easy-to-get-to campground, at just inside the park from the south entrance in Estes Park. This is a popular site, so prepare for neighbors. I highly recommend selecting a site in one of the loops. If you're on the stretch right after entering the campground, you'll have to deal with cars coming and going during your stay. We were in B loop, site 206.

Something else to pay attention to: tent sites and recreation travel trailer sites are mixed. If you prefer to be around tents only, make sure to check out the site map via https://www.recreation.gov/ to book your primo spot. It's not fun when you're trying to enjoy your campfire with a 25-footer bearing it's headlights down on you while trying to back up in the dark, beeping all the way. If you're bringing multiples cars, you'll also want to pay attention to the parking allotments. A lot of sites only allow one car. The map also shows where water, restrooms, and bear lockers are located.

The campground is equipped with bear lockers for your food, and wood ($5 p/bundle) and kindling ($1.50 p/bundle) is for sale from 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. Bring cash. If you don't, you'll get this spiel: "This is the boonies. This isn't the big city." (Never mind you can pay with your card to get into the park not three miles away.)

Moraine campground is a mile or so walking distance (depending on your site) from Cub Lake and Fern Lake trailheads, and a short drive to many others. Make note: in peak seasons, you'll want to get to Bear Lake, and Nymph, Dream, and Emerald Lake trailheads early, or else you'll have to shuttle it in.

The campgrounds are well maintained, bathrooms clean, and the views relaxing. We went last week in the midst of elk rutting season. If you haven't spent your nights listening to the sex calls of mammals, you aren't truly living. Oddly enough, it didn't bother any of us, and it was even peaceful. A couple gangs of elk made their way through the grounds. We were also visited by a couple of owls, and a pack of coyotes made their way through. We had the luck of a full moon. Coming over the mountaintops and peeking through the ponderosas is hauntingly beautiful.