Did you know Oklahoma is ranked eighth in the nation for most convenient camping states? Oklahomans seem to enjoy camping more than the average American – and for good reason; we have some of the country’s most diverse ecoregions.
In addition to the Great Plains, campers can enjoy four mountain ranges, large and lush forests, and even swamps. The state also has more dam-created lakes than any other state in the nation.
Some of the state’s most popular park sites include Lake Texoma in Kingston, Robbers Cave in Wilburton, Beavers Bend in Broken Bow, Greenleaf in Braggs, Black Mesa in Kenton, and the Chickasaw National Recreation Area in Sulphur, among a large handful others.
An often overlooked gem of the Oklahoma camping ecosystem is Alabaster Caverns State Park in Freedom. Some highlights of Alabaster Caverns include a 50-foot-tall main cavern which spans nearly a mile, plus several natural bridges, varieties of bat species, RV camping near the caves, or unique camping in a cavern with a waterfall (which includes raised sleeping platforms).
Chase Horn, director of communications for the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department, has an exciting announcement for Okie campers: just in time for summer, La Ratatouille, an Oklahoma based company that owns and operates Falcone’s Pizzeria and Joni’s Cakes Bakery, will be operating newly refreshed and upgraded food service operations at six Oklahoma state parks. La Ratatouille has served the OKC Thunder, the Zoo Amphitheater and other notable businesses in the state. Owner and operator JP Wilson grew up in Oklahoma and has numerous childhood memories enjoying the state park systems.
“We are excited to partner with the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department to provide restaurant services,” says Wilson. “The current facilities at these parks are top notch, and we are honored to be trusted with the responsibility of bringing a first-class dining experience to Oklahomans and park visitors from across the country.”
The parks served include Lake Murray in Ardmore, Quartz Mountain in Lone Wolf, Roman Nose State Park in Watonga, Sequoyah State Park in Hulbert, as well as Beavers Bend and Robbers Cave.
If you’re planning to camp this summer, it’s essential to know the amenities and services available at or near your campsite. Bring plenty of food and drinking water – especially in summer months – and have a first aid kit on hand. You’ll also want to know how to properly make and extinguish a fire, and you should check with your mobile phone provider to determine if you’ll have coverage in that area.
If you plan to build a fire, you’ll discover that most campgrounds in Oklahoma have both small charcoal grills and fire rings available. You should check with park staff before gathering wood from the surrounding area. Also be mindful of local burn bans before lighting a campfire.
Many of Oklahoma’s camping sites are first come, first served, so arriving early is a great best practice.
The most important philosophy of camping can be summed up in the phrase, “Leave no trace.” Be mindful of protecting Oklahoma’s beautiful local ecosystems and ensure that these sites are available for future generations.
Image cutline: Oklahoma harbors a vast array of well-preserved camping spots, including Beavers Bend State Park in Broken Bow. Photo courtesy Lori Duckworth/Oklahoma Tourism