5 Great Spots to Camp with Kids - MetroFamily Magazine
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5 Great Spots to Camp with Kids

by Mae Kiggins

Camping is a wonderful way to slow down, disconnect from technology and reconnect as a family. Cooler temperatures with beautiful fall colors make autumn the best time of year to camp. Oklahoma and surrounding areas offer a wide array of unique and beautiful ecosystems, from grasslands to mountains to lakes, rivers and waterfalls. There is no shortage of places to camp and enjoy the outdoors.

There are various types of camping and camping sites, all offering different levels of amenities. Here are the main types of campsites and how they differ. Choose wisely; your comfort will depend on it.

RV sites include utilities; 20-50 amp electrical outlets and water taps. Tents can generally be set up in RV sites but these are the most expensive sites.

Tent sites have access to water but a tap is usually not located at every camp site. Most do not have electricity; there are a few exceptions. Check with your selected park to be sure.

Primitive sites have no electricity or water. Water is usually within driving distance but bring some just to be safe.

Backpacking sites require hiking out to the site carrying all your equipment. No water or electricity available.

This is a unique year for Oklahoma. The spring was extremely wet and many trails and campgrounds have been flooded. Please call the park you intend to visit when planning your adventure to verify website information.

Here are some of the best campgrounds within a four-hour drive (or less!) from Oklahoma City.

Chickasaw National Recreation Area

Location: Sulphur, OK

Types of Campsites: RV and tent

Fee: According to site type

Amenities: restrooms, showers, nature center and ranger programs

Reservations: http://www.recreation.gov/ or 1-877-444-6777

General Information: The Arbuckle Mountains offer some of the most beautiful views of Oklahoma. From mountain trails and vistas to lakes and waterfalls to Native American culture, this area boasts no shortage of fun and unique adventures. The Chickasaw National Recreation Area offers six campgrounds. Three are located along the shores of the Lake of the Arbuckles and the other three offer views of Rock Creek or Travertine Creek. The Point campsites have been recently renovated making them some of the nicest in the area. All sites along the creek are for tents. Sites including electrical are in The Point or Buckhorn campgrounds.

Natural Falls State Park

Location: West Siloam Springs, OK

Types of Campsites: RV and tent

Fee: According to site type

Amenities: restrooms, showers, playground, gift shop and office wifi

Reservations: 918-422-5802

General Information: Natural Falls State Parks holds one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the state of Oklahoma, Dripping Springs. With the large amount of spring rain, rivers are running high and this is the year to visit. This park is nicely situated in the Ozark region of Oklahoma and offers five miles of hiking trails. Note the trail to Dripping Springs is handicap accessible.

Red Rock Canyon State Park

Location: Hinton, OK

Types of Campsites: RV and tent

Fee: RV sites $20-$23, Tent sites $12-$14

Amenities: restrooms, showers, pool and playground

Reservations: 405-542-6344

General Information: The stunning red rock canyon walls set this park apart from any other in Oklahoma. Looking for more adventure than camping? Try repelling down the 80-foot canyon walls. Autumn is especially pretty as the Caddo maples put on their fall colors. The road into the canyon is fairly steep and the park suggests RVs be shorter than 40 feet.

Arcadia Lake

Location: Edmond, OK

Types of Campsites: RV (water and electrical), tent and primitive

Fee: According to site type

Amenities: restroom, showers, playground and kayak rentals

Reservations: Rented on a first come, first served basis

General Information: Big sky, red rocks and gentle waters make this lake a beautiful and relaxing addition to your fall schedule. Central Park’s Cottonwood, Scissortail Campground and Baldcap Campground offer campsites overlooking the lake. Don’t miss the swimming beaches, equestrian trails or kayak rentals (found at the University of Central Oklahoma boathouse in Edmond Park).

Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Location: Canyon, TX

Types of Campsites: RV, equestrian, primitive and backpacking

Fee: Site and Entrance Fee

Amenities: restrooms, showers, nature center, trading post & grill and junior ranger program

Reservations: http://texas.reserveworld.com/ or (512) 389-8900

General Information: Palo Duro Canyon State Park is the second-largest canyon in the U.S. (only beat out by the Grand Canyon) is truly a unique experience just a four-hourdrive from Oklahoma City. Traveling out to the canyon feels like any normal drive through the panhandle of Texas (flat and boring) but the drop-off into the canyon is both sudden and stunning. This canyon offers a taste of the Southwest in Texas. The Mesquite campground at the back of the canyon is the most secluded but is also the longest drive. In addition to the camping fee, campers are required to pay the day-use fee of $5/person.

Camping Tip

First rule of camping: Do not transport firewood. Always buy it when you get to the campground. Why? Tree-killing insects and diseases can be transported in firewood. Most insects and diseases can’t move far on their own, but they can when transported via firewood. Once in their “new” home, they do massive damage to ecosystems and communities. For more information check DontMoveFirewood.org. Most campgrounds sell firewood. Sometimes it can only be bought at the ranger station and other times it can be purchased on the “honor system.” If it can only be purchased at a ranger station, check closing times to make sure it will be available when you check in. Some area gas stations or hardware stores sell firewood as well.

Mae Kiggins is an Edmond mom and former park ranger who now travels throughout the state and beyond exploring the outdoors with her family. Read about her outdoor experiences at www.outdoorsmom.com.

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