“Western Oklahoma’s State Park Treasures” Don’t Take Long to See
As this site continues its fast descent into a straight-up travel slide-show, I post this.
This was based on an article on some Oklahoma tourism website (here). I just went to the five that seemed most interesting and reasonably close-by (i.e., not to the panhandle because it’s too far, and I’d already been to that one anyway), but, still, took less than a day. Most of that time was spent driving between the parks. Probably eastern Oklahoma’s treasures are more ostentatious with bigger swimming pools and more electrifying golf courses. Maybe someone else with an insufferable travel blog has already covered that half of the state.
So: this got onto my south plains bucket list some time last fall, and then it got checked off that same list also some time last fall. I was planning on spending two days with a night in a hotel somewhere, but that turned out to be unrequired.
This. Read it clockwise starting from “Home”. It’s not really my home, it’s just where I live.
1. Red Rock Canyon State Park
“Lace up your tennis shoes and hed (sic) out on a leisurely stroll … Red Rock Canyon is an outdoor adventurer’s dream”.
In fairness, they refrained from using any exclamation points.
There are some red rock cliffs, which are something. A couple of stately campgrounds such that if you needed a place to live for two weeks in western Oklahoma, you know, maybe. There’s this:
Because when someone tells me “outdoor adventure”, the first thing I think of is “swimming pool”! And tennis shoe lacings. Very adventure!
Heading into this restroom seemed like it could have offered adventure, but even if it had, it wouldn’t have been outdoors (technically).
And it seems like they could’ve found a way to hang the signs without covering up the words. Probably would have deprived the place of its charm though.
I also walked the entire Rough Horsetail Trail while I was there, which I assume was much more adventurous than the Smooth Horsetail Trail on the other side of the road. Here’s arguably the trail’s biggest payoff:
Then I got back in the Jeep and drove off before the gophers could organize themselves and mount their attack.
2. Roman Nose State Park (and Swimming Pool)
“Visitors over the years seem to find the iconic entry sign to be the best spot to memorialize their experience.”
No argument here.
It was named for the Cheyenne chief Henry Roman Nose on whose property the park was built.
Beyond the sign, much of the facility seemed to have been lifted straight out of Fallout 3.
There were also a couple of springs, but those turn out to not be very visually exciting. On the other hand, I apparently took about a dozen photos of this stream:
Or, wait, that was probably a spring after all. They also had a pool. Like a swimming pool. It was on the other side of the bathroom complex shown above.
3. Gloss Mountain State Park
“Make sure to wear well-fitted shoes and bring along plenty of water and trail mix before making the long and challenging hike to the top.”
It really was neither long nor challenging. There were some stairs though and, in spots, a handrail.
Kind of in the middle of nowhere, yet it still felt somewhat like a highway rest stop. Still, it was clearly the most engaging of the five by a pretty good margin. I had a turkey sandwich in the parking lot. Might have been there for a total of 60 minutes.
You can see the highway in that one.
At any rate, it would be a worthy place to stop, rest, and take a brief hike if you’re ever somehow cruising by on Highway Whatever and need a break.
It’s Highway 412. There was a map at the top of the post. In fact, here’s a photo of that highway on my way out:
4. Little Sahara State Park
“Dune buggy and ATV riding is the main attraction here with the sandy terrain making an ideal setting for off-road fun.”
Somehow I missed that line when I was preparing my itinerary. Here’s everything you need to know about this one:
Yes, I did also take a picture of the sign, but I don’t want to mess up the pristine clarity of this section with superfluous photography.
5. Great Salt Plains State Park
“Eagle Roost Nature Trail, located in the nearby Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge, provides an up-close glimpse into the strange, stunning and marshy wetlands surrounding the Great Salt Plains.”
In other words, the best thing about the state park isn’t actually part of the state park.
This is what’s actually in the state park:
There was also the state park sign.
I also went to the marsh and hiked around for a bit, but was not inspired enough by the experience to take any photos. Rest assured, it looked like a marsh. There were two ducks there (mallard-type).
And then I drove for a long time to get home. The photo below is of the relatively good part of that drive, before the sun went down.
I stopped at Braums in Random Oklahoma Town on the way, though, and might have gotten a milk shake. (It might have been Enid. I’m sure the mothers of random Oklahoma towns can tell them apart, but, yeah.)