Texas state parks have stayed full during the last several months; at times it’s nearly impossible to get a camping reservation. The good thing is that it has forced me to go to new places.
After researching the top ten camping and hiking spots in Oklahoma, my dad and son and I decided on Robbers Cave State Park near Wilburton in the northeastern part of the state. We all agree we made the right choice.
Number one on our list was campsite availability. From my experience, the state parks in Oklahoma are much larger than ours in the Lonestar State. Robbers Cave has multiple campgrounds. We took what was available, which happened to be at Bobcat Crossing. Even though we were near the headquarters, our camping area was quiet and dark at night, and we had lots of shade during the day. The trees were spaced perfectly for a hammock which I took a nap in on Saturday afternoon.
Due to lack of preparation on my part, the racoons feasted on our bread and tortillas Friday night. I had a little mess to clean up in the morning, but otherwise we didn’t mind. On Saturday night they found our food less accessible and went away disappointed.
Next on our list was fishing, which is my dad’s favorite outdoor activity. Robbers Cave has three beautiful lakes surrounded by small mountains. These lakes will be stocked with trout come November 1, but we were two weeks too early. Still, there are plenty bass, crappie, and catfish.
As usual, we came prepared to eat fresh fish during our trip. I brought my camp skillet, oil, and cornmeal. Also as usual, we had beef stew instead. One small catfish and three nice perch all had the opportunity to swim back to their family and friends to tell the horrifying story of being face to face with a human. All four were caught by my dad.
On top of my list are good hiking trails, and Robbers Cave has plenty. On Friday afternoon we all three took a moderately challenging two-mile loop near our camp. On Saturday morning, we took the mandatory Robbers Cave loop, which was amazing. Nothing makes my son happier than giant, dangerous rocks to climb and jump around on, and he was not disappointed. There were caves and rock corrals and amazing views, but there was also an amazing crowd, as this is the main draw of the park.
Later in the day I took a solo five-mile hike on the Mountain Trail. It was much less crowded—I think I met three groups of people—but no less spectacular. The hike took me around one of the three lakes, along shorelines and up to the top edges of a mountain overlooking the lake. There were also some deeply wooded sections and streams. That evening my son and I hiked another challenging two-mile trail that took us down another mountain to a lake that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise.
The fall color in that part of Oklahoma is beautiful and alone was worth the drive, and the weather was perfect. We were cold the first night, which made sitting by the campfire even more enjoyable and made the camp coffee in the morning delicious. I was able to hike in a flannel shirt all day without getting warm, which is my kind of weather.
On Sunday we finally had the chance to eat fried catfish when we stopped at Captain John’s in McAlester, Ok on the way home. It wasn’t the same as having it in camp, but it probably tasted better than ours would have.
If you ever have the chance to visit Robbers Cave State Park in Oklahoma, do. We hope to go back.