Within Oklahoma’s some 70,000 square miles lie an array of wonders kindly provided by nature’s hand. One of the more spectacular offerings is only an hour’s drive west of Oklahoma City, where the Red Rock Canyon beckons travelers.
The nature destination, which was once a winter haven for plains Indians and later a stopover for wagon trains bound for the West Coast, has new ownership, who took over operation of the now-named Red Rock Canyon Adventure Park early this year. They’re promising improvements that are designed to make a visit to this scenic locale even better.
The 311-acre enclave of beauty lies on the south doorstep of the town of Hinton, itself a bustling community of just over 3,000 that is experiencing a new uptick of economic growth.
Brandi Kaiser, Hinton Chamber of Commerce director, says the park, the proximity to Interstate 40 and the re-opening of a private prison southwest of the city with its accompanying jobs, together are spurring an economic renewal in Hinton.
But it’s Red Rock Canyon that’s the big draw, says Kaiser, particularly in the warmer months.
That sentiment is echoed by Art Peters, curator of the Hinton Historical Museum and Parker House on Hinton’s main street.
“Half of our visitors are either going to or coming from the canyon,” he says. “When Red Rock Canyon is busy, we’re busy.”
Jesse Roberge, co-owner of the Red Rock Canyon Adventure Park, recently completed a lease agreement with the state of Oklahoma to operate the park. He says the place is beautiful now – but will be much better for visitors once planned improvements are put in place.
“This is an awesome park,” says Roberge, who relocated to Hinton from Washington state. “If we are able to achieve our goal, this will be a premier park in the state.”
Currently, the park has 50 spots for recreational vehicle camping, and about 30 pads for tent camping. Roberge says the park will be adding eight “glamping” trailers, which are akin to luxurious tents, ideal for individuals or families who want an upscale camping experience but might lack the resources to purchase trailers or the accompanying camping equipment.
“We will provide that for them,” he says. “This will be new to the park in a premium way.”
One immediate task, Roberge says, is to cut back some overgrowth to better expose the red rock canyon walls, sculpted by wind and water over time but mostly hidden by foliage. Security also will be tightened, he says.
Visitors might find the Hinton Historical Museum’s collection of interest. Peters says the museum houses what he believes to be Oklahoma’s largest collection of carriages: “Everything from small buggies to the horse-drawn carriages,” he says.
The museum is also home to seven antique automobiles, plus extensive collections of antique telephones and the various types of barbed wire used during the settling of early day Oklahoma.
Peters says the adjoining Parker House was originally a farmhouse built three miles west of Hinton, but was moved into town and donated to the Town of Hinton. Parker House is open for tours during regular museum hours, he says.
If the museum and canyon aren’t enough to entice visitors to Hinton, the chamber of commerce offers events throughout the year. These include the annual Independence Day celebration, held on July 3, the Red Rock Cruisers Classic Auto Show, held on Oct. 5, as well as an annual Christmas parade.
Kaiser says the auto show featured several food trucks last year, and that more improvements are in the planning stages.
“We’re trying to build it up and make it better,” she says.
For More Information:
Hinton Chamber of Commerce
Red Rock Canyon Adventure Park
Town of Hinton
Hinton Historical Museum and Parker House
Background photo caption: Red Rock Canyon Adventure Park, under new leadership, offers ‘glamping’ – or luxury camping – experiences. Photo courtesy Red Rock Canyon Adventure Park