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Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Hike, bike, scout about, fish for trout and camp like a champ: explore Oklahomaís nearby state parks

Roman Nose State Park

Despite some of the cold stuff coming down out of the sky lately, it is March and that means spring is indeed on its way—and thus that also means it’s time to get outside and enjoy some nature. Some great places to explore the local flora and fauna (well, mostly flora, which is probably best, let’s be honest), perhaps even on an overnight basis, are Oklahoma’s state parks. We here at The Better Life HQ have been exploring some of the nearby locations just so we can report to you, dear reader, a few ways to best enjoy some of these spots.

  • Roman Nose State Park (near Watonga, OK; approximately 1.25 hours / 75 miles from downtown OKC) – This beautiful lakeside park offers great hiking and mountain biking trail, resulting in memorable views atop the gypsum cliffs at aptly named Inspiration Point. You can also enjoy an 18-hole golf course, a swimming pool and even hayrides (in season) in addition to fishing, canoeing and paddleboating (both of the latter available to rent). Just north of the state park proper lies Lake Watonga, which is a great place for trout fishing as well as bass, catfish and more. As Roman Nose is just far enough away from the metro to “get away from it all” including a lot of OKC’s light pollution, TBLers have enjoyed some starry-eyed stargazing in addition to mountain biking and the views from Inspiration Point, and even a little fishing.
  • Lake Thunderbird State Park (near Norman; approximately 30 minutes / 27 miles from downtown OKC) – Lake T-Bird is large and in charge of two marinas, two swim beaches, more than 200 RV sites, playgrounds, an archery range and a wide variety of hiking (and even equestrian!) trails of various lengths, in addition to a relatively large number of scenic lakeside primitive camping spots. TBLers especially enjoyed the views of a morning fog lifting off the lake as a prelude to a great day hike in the Clear Bay area.
  • Greenleaf State Park (near Braggs, OK; approximately 2.5 hours / 150 miles from downtown OKC) – This is a popular park for a few reasons. First, it’s generally regarded as very scenic and appears on a variety of “best camping parks in Oklahoma”-type lists around the internet. Second, the original WPA-constructed facilities are still in use and have been well maintained, adding to the atmosphere. Third, this is a popular park for families, as the facility boasts playgrounds, basketball and volleyball courts, a swim area, a discovery center, miniature golf, and even a kid’s pond where 16-and-unders can fish without a permit! Permit yourselves to enjoy Greenleaf State Park, especially if you’ve got little campers in tow (though as the park is quite popular, Greenleaf may not be the best place to “get away from it all” and enjoy the quiet side of nature, as TBLers can attest).
  • BONUS: Red Rock Canyon Adventure Park (near Hinton, OK; approximately 1 hour / 56 miles from downtown OKC) – This former state park is now privately operated, which is good news because it means you can still enjoy the unique red sandstone cliffs and canyons, which are favorites for rappellers and climbers. Other standout features of the park are original wagon-wheel ruts left by settlers on their way west in the mid-19th century, as well as great hiking trails, a swimming pool and playground, and a fishing pond. TBLers really appreciated the luxurious swimming facilities after a rather warm hiking adventure in mid-July, as well as being able to camp in the shadow of the cliffs and trees, offering great shade!
parks, camping, day-trip, family-friendly, outdoor recreation
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
Comments (0)



Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Letís get campy

Camping by a lake

Need an outdoor escape to celebrate the start of summer? You don’t have to leave the metro area to get your camping fix.

Lake Arcadia
The area around this in-city-limits lake in northeast Oklahoma County has been preserved to keep the nature natural, and provides an easy escape to camping bliss. At Lake Arcadia you can fish, boat, swim, ride your mountain bike, play disc golf and more. Get more info on camping here.

Lake Thunderbird State Park
With two swim beaches and two marinas (and a plethora of boat ramps) there is plenty to do both on and off the water at this state park just east of Norman. Hear that sound? Playgrounds, horse riding stables and all 18.5 miles of the Clear Bay Recreation Area Trail System are calling you (either that or the battery in your smoke alarm needs to be changed).

Oklahoma City East KOA
Located in Choctaw, this campground offers a pool, a snack bar, a playground and even Wi-Fi(!). Tent sites with water and electricity are available, as well as those without hookups.

Around the state
Want to get a little further away? The Oklahoma State Park system offers plenty of diverse opportunities to spend time under the stars. Our friends at the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department are experts in exploring Oklahoma. Be sure to check out their tips for camping in the state and view a list of state parks.

water sports, camping, day-trip, equine, family-friendly, fishing, mountain biking, outdoor recreation, parks
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Great lakes

Lake Hefner Lighthouse

Oklahoma City is one of the premier places for water sports in the country. There are more than 30 lakes within an hour’s drive of OKC. In fact, Oklahoma has more man-made lakes than any state in the Union and more shoreline than the east and Gulf coasts combined. With so many lakes in Oklahoma it would take weeks to cover all you can do, so let’s just focus on what to do within OKC’s city limits.

  • Lake Hefner: features 2,500 surface acres, heated fishing docks, boat ramps, 9.1 miles of biking and jogging trails and is famous for sailboats and windsurfers. Hefner is also home to the Oklahoma City Boat Club.
  • Lake Draper: features 2,900 surface acres, four covered fishing piers, boat ramps, tending docks, handicap facilities and fish attractors. Picnicking, fishing, jet skiing, boating and sailing are all permitted. Skiing is allowed in open waters.
  • Lake Overholser: features 1,500 surface acres, covered fishing pier, boat ramps, tending docks, handicap facilities and fish attractors. Picnicking, fishing, sailing, boating and jet skiing are permitted. Lake Overholser is also attached to the wondrous Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge.
  • Arcadia Lake: features 1,820 surface acres, picnicking, camping, swimming, water skiing, boating, hiking, disc golf and an equestrian trail. A heated, covered dock is provided for year-round fishing.
camping, cycling, equine, fishing, Lake Hefner, outdoor recreation, running, water sports
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Operation: Exploration

Wichita Mountains

Spring break is the perfect time to make explore and make memories with family and friends. And, you don’t have to travel far to have an amazing adventure. Check out one of Oklahoma’s 32 diverse state parks. From rappelling at Red Rock Canyon State Park to boulder hopping and climbing at Robbers Cave State Park, there’s an activity for everyone to enjoy.  Bring your own dune buggy or rent an ATV and fly over the dunes at Little Sahara State Park or grab your wet suit and have a scuba adventure in Lake Tenkiller's dive park. The range of activities offered at state parks includes golfing, disc golf, hiking, horseback riding, swimming and even cave exploring (check out the Alabaster Caverns State Park near Freedom).

In addition to relaxing in the beautiful surroundings - lakes, mountains, sand dunes, and forests - you can hike, bike, fish or participate in organized park activities. Then rest in a comfortable lodge or cabin, or camp in your own tent or RV.

Some areas of interest worth exploring that aren’t on the state parks’ list include the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service near Lawton, Quartz Mountain Nature Park in southwest Oklahoma and the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve operated by the Nature Conservancy.

family-friendly, fishing, golf, outdoor recreation, parks, spring break, camping, cycling, day-trip, equine
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Have símore fun in OKC

Lake Marina

As Oklahoma City’s summer comes to an end, we here at The Better Life think there is no better time to explore the great outdoors. In Oklahoma City, there are plenty of places that are perfect for a camping excursion with family or friends. We may live in the largest city in Oklahoma, but that doesn’t mean you have to travel far to get campy this summer or fall.

For the folks in north OKC, Arcadia Lake in nearby Edmond has four parks and more than 140 campsites, ranging from full hook-up campsites to primitive spots (a.k.a. no water or electric hook-ups). Each site has access to picnic areas and fire pits, as well as community water and restrooms.

Lake Stanley Draper, located in southeast Oklahoma City, is the City’s largest lake and outdoor recreation area. The Lake Draper Marina offers a range of primitive camping locations near the southwest corner of the lake and close to the trailhead of the CrossTimbers Riding Area. Camping permits are available for $8 a day for each site.

Lake Thunderbird State Park is 13 miles east of Norman and full of hiking, mountain biking and nature trails sprinkled amidst its 447 campsites and 86 miles of shoreline. The nearby Discovery Cove Nature Center offers programs throughout the year and displays snakes, animals, furs and artifacts native to the region.

In northern Oklahoma City is Bluff Creek Trail. The trail is a single loop with tight turns and pulse pumping challenges. At 3.5 miles you’ll get in plenty of exhilaration without ending totally tuckered out.

If you are itching to visit someplace a little farther from home, check out the Oklahoma camping resources available from our friends at TravelOK.com.

outdoor recreation, camping, day-trip, family-friendly, mountain biking
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Camping: Itís in tents (get it?)

camping in tents

Did you know that Oklahoma offers some of the nation’s most diverse terrain? It is one of only four states with more than 10 ecoregions and has the most per mile in America according to the EPA. Lucky for us, our State Park system is just as diverse and sets you up for as much adventure as you can handle.

Whether you want to sleep in the forest, next to a lake or waterfall, on the sand dunes or near caves formerly used as hideouts for Jesse James and Belle Starr, our state’s park system delivers. Best of all, each state park comes with its own unique amenities including hiking, rappelling, golfing, fishing, bird watching, scuba diving and more.

What are you waiting for? Learn more about ways to explore this great state at TravelOK.com.

outdoor recreation, camping, family-friendly, fishing, golf
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Stillwater

OSU

Home of Oklahoma State University, Stillwater is just an hour or so up the road from OKC and features plenty of diverse activities. Read on for more ideas on how to spend your time in Stillwater.

  • The National Wrestling Hall of Fame – this “shrine to the sport of wrestling” should definitely be on your Stillwater to-do list. Full of memorabilia and history, “mankind’s oldest and most basic form of recreational combat” is celebrated here. Learn about the sport’s pioneers, African-American and Latino wrestling history, America’s Olympic heroes, and more.
  • Main Street ShoppingDowntown Stillwater features that classic Main Street feel, with lots of local flavor and things to see and eat. Bike nights, Food Truck nights, and the Car and Bike Show augment the experience. Check the calendar at the link above to see what’s going down Downtown, or just head out and get your shop on.
  • Lake Fun – Stillwater’s three area reservoirs of regalement stand ready for you to visit any time of year. Lakes Blackwell, McMurtry, and Boomer offer all the typical lake fun you can stand and then some, including bird watching, mountain biking, hunting, disc golf, camping, horseback riding and trails for fitness, among other features.
  • Golf at Karsten Creek – The Stillwater area in general offers plenty for the duffers out there, but you may want to pay a special visit to Karsten Creek. Considered one of the best public courses in the nation, this Tom Fazio-designed course is the home of Oklahoma State’s golf teams, and you can play there too! Take the opportunity to grab your clubs and experience a demanding course you’re sure not to forget.

For more info, just hop over to www.visitstillwater.org.

golf, mountain biking, museums, outdoor recreation, retail, Stillwater, water sports, camping, college, day-trip, food
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Red Rock Canyon State Park Rocks

Canyon wall and Gaillardia flower

[photo credit: Lisha Newman / OK Tourism]

Just an hour west of OKC and a little south of Hinton off Interstate 40 is Red Rock Canyon State Park. Nestled among fantastic red Rush Springs Sandstone canyon walls and native Caddo maple trees, the park is a favorite for rappellers, hikers, climbers and car campers. Historically, Red Rock Canyon was a preferred winter camp for Plains Indians, and was also a typical stop on the “California Trail” for pioneers headed west in the mid-19th century. In fact, you can still see wagon wheel ruts left by their covered wagons in the park! Besides hiking and climbing, there is a fishing pond, swimming pool and playground to enjoy. In the fall, it also makes a fantastic spot to see the native foliage embrace its colorful autumnal awesomeness. Red Rock Canyon State Park makes for an easy and fun quick escape and is ready to be explored by TBL readers, so get out there, campers, and be sure to let us know how it went in the comments section.

Red Rock Canyon SP sign

outdoor recreation, parks, camping, day-trip, fishing, Oklahoma
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Get Campy

Robin and Batman Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, camping! If you’re a regular reader of The Better Life, you know we love us some camping (and if you don’t subscribe to our weekly digest, riddle me this: why the heck not?). Luckily, it’s again a great time of year to make some more s’mores over an open fire, crack a few of those fabulous local brews (POP!), and sleep under the stunning star-lit sky instead of your popcorn ceiling and noisy, dusty ceiling fan (not judging, just sayin’).  In the past we’ve given you some camping primers for you beginning outdoorsmen and women and some tips for where to camp around town and around the state. POW! Why not read those blogs, get inspired, pack up and make it a big camping weekend? Camping in Oklahoma offers a wide variety of experiences. In fact, you can even check out bat caves while you’re at it. BOOM!

camping, family-friendly, outdoor recreation
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Go Climb a Rock

You don’t have to go far to get your rock climbing fix in OKC. Rocktown is the famous former-grain-silo-turned-indoor-and-outdoor-climbing-gym that is located downtown between Bricktown and the Boathouse District. Rocktown was also featured in the recent short documentary from TheCoolist, Oklahoma City: Uncovering a Hidden Gem of American Cool (which you should definitely watch if you haven’t already).

Another nearby place to consider testing out the quality of your carabiners is Red Rock Canyon State Park. Located one hour west of OKC near Hinton, Red Rock Canyon offers hiking where you can see original wagon wheel ruts left by settlers on their way to California, in addition to cool 80-foot red canyon walls perfect for rappelling and climbing.
Red Rock Canyon SP sign

(Among other great spots, the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge discussed below also offers rock climbing. Read on!)

camping, Oklahoma, outdoor recreation
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

How to Cure That Cabin Fever

Now that the big yellow ball in the sky has started to make its presence felt in the form of more pleasant weather, naturally a young man’s (and woman’s) fancy lightly turns to thoughts of nature and sleeping out-of-doors. And thankfully, we’re in luck here in Oklahoma City, with fantastic camping opportunities within easy driving distance (more on that below in locations both in and out of the city). But you may be thinking, “I can’t go camping—I don’t know what I’m doing, and I don’t have any camping stuff!” Well, even the gear-less shouldn’t fear: The Better Life has you covered.

What do you need to go camping? Not much, really. A tent, a sleeping bag and some camp-friendly cuisine is really all you need. Apart from that, anything else you might want to take depends on your pick of location and what else you’d like to do on your trip.

We here at TBL HQ enjoy going for a simple overnight excursion near a lake or stream at one of our nearby state parks. We suggest taking:

  • a tarp for ground cover;
  • a tent;
  • sleeping bags and some sleeping mats;
  • a cooler with ice, water, drinks and any foods you might like to have along; some matches to get a fire started;
  • and something fun to do in the forest, like a telescope for stargazing, a guitar for (literally) singing “Kumbaya” around the campfire, fishing gear (and a fishing license), a cornhole set (or “bean bag toss,” if you prefer) or a pair of hiking boots or a mountain bike to check out those park trails.

It’s not a bad idea to take some extra layers for that morning chill, and some first-aid, toiletry items, bug spray and sunscreen, just in case. Some parks even have coin-op showers if you want to smooth out the experience of roughing it.

Notice that we didn’t mention firewood. When camping at state parks, depending on the location you can either gather firewood from the forest floor or simply purchase some from the park office (they discourage bringing in outside wood for fear of strange bugs or tree diseases, so keep those dirty timbers at home!). Another important note – before you strike, be sure to make sure there’s not a burn ban in your area.

Our friends over at the state Tourism & Recreation Department provide a great primer on camping for beginners that can demystify the camping experience and give you some other great pointers – check it out.

Read our other posts this week for tips on places to camp both inside and outside the city.

camping, family-friendly, outdoor recreation, parks
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
Comments (0)



Park It at a State Park

Oklahoma’s State Parks offer some great spots for camping. Whether you want to sleep in the forest, next to a lake or waterfall, abutting red canyon walls, or even on the sand dunes or near caves that were hideouts for Jesse James and Belle Starr, our state’s park system delivers.

But that’s not all, folks. Check this link for a nice listing of all the great State Parks, national recreational areas & forests, wildlife refuges, and other spots the state has where we can all enjoy an authentic camping experience right here in Oklahoma.

[Photo by John Jernigan]

camping, family-friendly, Oklahoma, parks
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
Comments (0)



Places to Camp in OKC

So, we’ve got your interest all nice and piqued on the camping bit, but you’re thinking you don’t want to waste too much of this beautiful weather in the car. We hear you. There are some places right here in the metro where you can still get your camp on.

Lake Arcadia
The area around this in-city-limits lake in northeast Oklahoma County has been preserved to keep the nature natural, and provides an easy escape to camping bliss. At Lake Arcadia you can fish, boat, swim, ride your mountain bike, play disc golf and more. Get more info on camping here.

Lake Thunderbird State Park
With two swim beaches and two marinas (and a plethora of boat ramps) there is plenty to do both on and off the water at this state park just east of Norman. Hear that sound? Playgrounds, horse riding stables and all 18.5 miles of the Clear Bay Recreation Area Trail System are calling you (either that or the battery in your smoke alarm needs to be changed).

Oklahoma City East KOA
Located in Choctaw, this campground offers a pool, a snack bar, a playground and even Wi-Fi(!). Tent sites with water and electricity are available, as well as those without hookups.

At Home
If you’re a beginning camper and just want to try it out, you could even simply fire up your grill and have a nice little field trip in your own backyard. So get out there, build that fire and pitch that tent! Just remember your neighbors are still there, so you may want to keep the volume of your family’s hiphop version of Kumbaya to a minimum.

[Photo from TravelOK]

water sports, camping, family-friendly, outdoor recreation, parks
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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