Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Exploring Alabaster Caverns

I would like to start off by apologizing for my lack of photos for this amazing state park. Alabaster Caverns does not allow photography in the cave for regular tours. They do tours by reservation that allow photography but we did not realize this until we were already there. Therefore, I do not have any pictures of the caverns but to see some stunning pictures go to travelok.com.


About
Alabaster Caverns State Park is located in northwest Oklahoma, almost to the pan handle. The park boasts the largest natural gypsum cavern, open to the public, in the world. To see the caverns, there are daily guided tours that last about 45 minutes. To purchase tickets for a tour, go to the gift shop.

As well as the caverns, the park has 11 RV sites and 12 tent sites available. There are also hiking trails, picnic shelters, and a volleyball court. Another awesome experience that is available at the park is wild caving, otherwise known at spelunking.

Overlooking the canyon

What to Expect
The tour follows a 3/4 mile lit path through the caverns. At a point in the tour all the lights will be turned off to experience total darkness, which is a strange experience. The cave will be cool and damp. So, be careful the ground is slippery! Expect to hear and see a couple species of bats. We also saw a salamander.

Great views from the trail

Our Experience
The caverns were really neat but we were slightly disappointed with our experience at first. This may be naive of us but we did not realize that to see the caverns we would have to go on a guided tour. We were pretty bummed about that but it turned out to be really informative to have a tour guide. Overall, we really enjoyed exploring the caverns.

Hiking
Hiking was an added bonus to the caverns but I would not recommend coming to the park to only hike. Most of the trails were overgrown with tall grass, so long pants are a necessity. We did not explore the trails extensively but we hiked for about 30 minutes. My favorite part was the small creek along one of the trails.

Creek that ran along the trail



Alabaster Caverns State Park was another state park in Oklahoma that completely surprised us! We are loving exploring all these wonderful parks and cannot wait to hit all 34!


5 out of 34 Oklahoma State Parks! Which one should we go to next? Comment below!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Red Rock Canyon State Park


Oklahoma State Parks continue to surprise me and this one was no different! Driving down the steep park entrance into the canyon, it felt as if we were entering a completely different environment. It was fascinating and exhilarating to look up at these canyon wall formed many many years ago.

Canyon Wall

About
Red Rock Canyon State Park is located in west central Oklahoma and is not a far drive from Oklahoma City, where we stayed after a day of hiking. The park is known for its nature trails and hiking but it is also common to see someone rappelling down the red canyon walls. Swimming at the pool is available during the summer months as well. Camping is also available in the park, with both RV and tent sites.
Fee: No fee (for a day pass)
Rock formation for base of canyon 

Hiking

Main Trail
The park itself is absolutely breathtaking but the main hiking trail was pretty bland at times. It started out amazing by climbing up a water eroded path to get to the top of the canyon. A portion of the trail goes away from the edge of the canyon through a bunch of trees that have died. This part of the trail was not very scenic and really quite boring. The trail has some wonderful views though. We only ended up doing only half of the trail due to me catching a cold and not feeling the best. Be warned, the main trail is long and will take a while to complete.

Grant climbing to get to the trail

On the hiking trail looking down into the canyon

Grant exploring the rock on the main trail

Laura and Grant on the hiking trail

Trail Head


Nature Trails
There are two nature trials in the park and we did the first one right at the entrance. This one is a short trail at the base of the canyon and gives a completely different perspective than the main trail that goes on top of the canyon. I would recommend doing both to experience what each has to offer.

Nature Trail

Small pond at the end of the nature trail

Red Rock Canyon was the perfect spot for a day hike. The red canyon walls are radiant and a sight to see. I would highly recommend spending a day discovering all this state park has to offer.


A friendly reminder, please do not deface the canyon walls. Read all about defacing natural features here.

4 out of 34 Oklahoma State Parks! Which one should we go to next? Comment below!