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Summer Guide: Explore Oklahoma’s camping grounds

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Head out of OKC in almost any direction and you’ll soon see the abundant and diverse nature the state has to offer. Mountain ranges, canyons, lakes, rivers and waterfalls all await anyone willing and able to take a short drive. They’re just far enough for a weekend getaway but close enough you could change your mind and sleep in your own bed.

OKLAHOMA TOURISM AND RECREATION DEPARTMENT / PROVIDED
  • Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department / provided

Roman Nose State Park
State Highway 8A, Watonga
stateparks.com/roman_nose.html
580-623-4215

Named for Southern Cheyenne Chief Henry Roman Nose, this park once served as a winter campground for the Cheyenne people and is one of Oklahoma's original state parks. It now features an 18-hole golf course, horseback riding, a mountain bike trail and 11 cabins offering modern conveniences. Tent and RV campsites are also available, and teepees can be rented during the summer months.

CHICKASAW NATION / PROVIDED
  • Chickasaw Nation / provided

Chickasaw National Recreation Area
901 W. First St., Sulphur
nps.gov/chic
580-622-7234

Oklahoma's eastern forests and western prairies meet in the midst of the national park that combines the original Sulphur Springs Reservation, Platt National Park, Arbuckle National Recreation Area and several other areas and features lakes, mineral springs and even a swimming area dubbed "Little Niagara Falls." Opportunities for boating, fishing and swimming abound, and biking, hiking and horseback riding are available whenever you want a chance to dry off. Travertine Nature Center offers educational exhibits where you can see dioramas as well as live reptiles, amphibians and birds of prey.

OKLAHOMA TOURISM AND RECREATION DEPARTMENT / PROVIDED
  • Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department / provided

Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge
32 Refuge Headquarters Road, Indiahoma
fws.gov/refuge/wichita_mountains
580-429-3222

This 59,020-acre refuge is home to hundreds of species of plants and animals including bison, elk, wild turkey, prairie dogs, river otters and many more, and you can encounter several of them on 15 miles of nature trails of varying difficulty. Guided bus tours are also available, along with hunting, fishing, rock climbing and other activities, making the refuge a perfect place to stop for a picnic or stay overnight at modern or backcountry campsites.

OKLAHOMA TOURISM AND RECREATION DEPARTMENT / PROVIDED
  • Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department / provided

Arcadia Lake
9000 E. Second St., Arcadia
edmondok.com
405-216-7470

More than 140 campsites with amenities ranging from full RV hookups to primitive sites without water or electricity line the edge of this lake and the surrounding wooded areas, which are home to bald eagles and many other types of wildlife.  Boating, swimming, hiking, disc golf and other recreation are available to campers, but the lake, which supplies Edmond with its water, is close enough for a quick day trip.

OKLAHOMA TOURISM AND RECREATION DEPARTMENT / PROVIDED
  • Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department / provided

Turner Falls Park
Interstate 35 and State Highway 77, Davis
turnerfallspark.com
580-369-2917

The 77-foot waterfall, Oklahoma's tallest, serves as the centerpiece of this park, which also boasts streams and caves. Camping sites, RV hookups and a dozen cabins are available for rental, but pets are prohibited and children age 12 and younger must wear a coast-guard-certified floatation device in the water.

OKLAHOMA TOURISM AND RECREATION DEPARTMENT / PROVIDED
  • Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department / provided

Blue River
4085 S. Hutchins Lane, Tishomingo
blueriverok.com
580-371-9288

Fans of backcountry camping will find six camping areas in Blue River, some without even "primitive" bathroom facilities, but walk-in access to waterways, picturesque views and the chance to commune with nature in a more remote setting give this campground a rustic appeal. No reservations are required, and campers with a valid hunting or fishing license can camp free of charge.

OKLAHOMA TOURISM AND RECREATION DEPARTMENT / PROVIDED
  • Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department / provided

Red Rock Canyon State Park
116 Red Rock Canyon Road, Hinton
travelok.com/state-parks
405-542-6344

Adventurers of all experience levels will find something to do at Red Rock, with two nature trails and a children's playground. Bring your own rappelling gear to descend down the canyon walls or just sit and watch the sun cast its vibrant colors across the walls as it rises and sets. RV hookups, tent sites equipped with electricity and running water and primitive campsites are available.

OKLAHOMA TOURISM AND RECREATION DEPARTMENT / PROVIDED
  • Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department / provided

Lake Murray State Park
3323 Lodge Road, Ardmore
lake-murray.org
580-223-4044

Named for Southern Cheyenne Chief Henry Roman Nose, this park once served as a winter campground for the Cheyenne people and is one of Oklahoma's original state parks. It now features an 18-hole golf course, horseback riding, a mountain bike trail and 11 cabins offering modern conveniences. Tent and RV campsites are also available, and teepees can be rented during the summer months.

OKLAHOMA TOURISM AND RECREATION DEPARTMENT / PROVIDED
  • Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department / provided

Lake Eufaula
lakeeufaula.com

Nine different campgrounds – ranging from standard RV and tent sites to the Yogi Bear-starring, Starbucks-equipped Jellystone Park – surround Oklahoma's largest lake, occupying parts of four counties. Swimming, boating, fishing, horseback riding, paintball and golfing on two different 18-hole courses will keep boredom at bay. Many area restaurants are available if your pic-a-nic basket gets stolen.

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