Sunday, November 20, 2016

Exploring Wichita Mountains

Oklahoma has mountains! Who knew? I was certainly surprised when I discovered there were mountains in Oklahoma (so close to home). We really enjoyed meeting up with a friend to camp, hike, and explore the Wichita Mountains.

View from the summit of Mount Scott

The Wichita Mountains are located in southwest Oklahoma. We visited both Great Plains State Park (where we camped) and Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge to take in the great views of these unexpected mountains.

View from the summit of Elk Mountain Trail

Great Plains State Park
Great Plains State Park was another great Oklahoma State Park. Grant and I met a friend from Texas at the park where we camped for 1 1/2 nights. We were unfortunately rained out by a large thunderstorm our second night. Eventually we decided to head home because we were borrowing my parents 1995 Camel tent to accommodate our friend Micah who currently is tentless. The weathered tent started taking on water rapidly shortly after the rain began. After waiting in the car until about midnight it was evident that the storms were not going to stop anytime soon. Besides our tent issues, our site was amazing. We were surrounded by mountains with a head on view of the lake.
Fee: $14 per night to camp

Sunset from our campsite at Great Plains State Park

The hiking at Great Plains State Park was not the best due to the lack of maintenance on the trails. The grass was so tall that we did not get much hiking in. Even though the trails were a let down the views made up for it. The lake was active with swimmers, fishers, and people boating. We enjoyed our campsite and  the stunning sunset over the water and surrounding mountains.

Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge 
Although Wichita Wildlife Refuge is not an Oklahoma State Park it has been one of my favorite places to visit in Oklahoma! It was simply amazing. The wildlife refuge was about an hour drive from Great Plains State Park. There was no fee to visit.

We were able to do some great hiking at Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. We started with the 2.2 mile round trip hike to the summit of Elk Mountain. The hike had an elevation of 577 feet. It was a moderate hike with great views from the summit. The trail was lined with wildflowers, cactus, and small wildlife. We really enjoyed the hike! We also hiked part of the Dog Run Hollow Trail system but I would highly recommend the Elk Mountain trail if there is only time for one hike.

Elk Mountain Trail

Exploring Elk Mountain

Our friend Micah met up with us to explore Wichita Mountains

Elk Mountain summit

Breathtaking views from Elk Mountain

Small lake on the Dog Run Hollow Trail 

The wild flowers were gorgeous in May

View along the Dog Run Hollow Trail


Visitors Center
After a morning of hiking we spent some time at the visitors center to escape the heat for a bit. It was neat and provided a lot of information about the wildlife refuge.

Drive Up Mount Scott
Driving up Mount Scott was another great way to escape the heat after a morning of hiking. We also experienced some great views from the top!

Didn't hike up this mountain but still experienced breathtaking scenery!

Stop to See the Wildlife
The refuge is teeming with wildlife. It has free roaming herds of bison and Rocky Mountain elk, as well as deer, prairie dogs, and many other types of animals. I loved stopping to capture pictures of the bison and prairie dogs. We did not see any elk while we were at the park because of the heat. The park rangers said during the warmer months they are more likely to be seen in the mornings and evenings.

The buffalo are free roaming at Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge

Prairie Dog Village  

The Wichita Mountains have been one of my favorite spots in Oklahoma thus far! We had a blast hiking and taking in the breathtaking views with a close friend. So glad we were able to share our love of nature with a great friend.

Micah and Grant at the summit of Elk Mountain

7 out of 34 Oklahoma State Parks! Which Oklahoma State Park is your favorite?

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