If you could go on an adventure, where would you choose? When you read the words, let’s be adventurers, are you filled with excitement?
Dictionary.com defines adventure as: an exciting or very unusual experience. Participation in exciting undertakings or enterprises. Every so often adventure calls on us. And, when it does, we answer without hesitation. My family’s adventures are usually within the realm of nature. Anything remotely related to exploring the world outside our doorstep, and deep into the trees are the activities we gladly answer with a yes.
For our boys, they define adventure as packing their gear and strapping on their backpacks to head to camp. Fishing poles gripped in one hand, and a map in the other, they are the picture perfect outdoor enthusiasts.
Our oldest boy has grown to love anything related to national and state parks. He learns all he can about them by watching National Geographic Travel DVDs, checking out books from the library, scouring through travel magazines and park brochures. This past Spring he turned nine, and wanted a camping adventure to a national park. While we had to be conscious of time and money, we looked at our own state and decided on Chickasaw National Recreation Area. Our big dream is to travel to and explore the Grand Canyon, but we know a trip of that magnitude takes more planning and more resources. He was 100% on board with CNRA in Sulphur, Okla., for this trip.
The visit to the recreation area surpassed all of my expectations. I am going to break the trip down in parts in different blog posts, focusing on a specific area in each one. There is too many photos and information to jam pack into one blog post. That’s always a positive thing!
Preliminary background about CNRA. This is what we do before visiting a site chock full of history and traditions – we learn about the environment we are entering.
Nestled in the foothills of the Arbuckle Mountains near Sulphur, Okla., in Murray County is the Chickasaw National Recreation Area. The park encompasses 9,888.83 areas with 2,409 acres of it covered with water.
The park is named to honor the Chickasaw Indian Nation. They were relocated to this area from the Southeastern United States during the 1830s. During this time, they discovered numerous natural fresh and mineral springs, which they believed contained healing powers. This portion, containing a 640-acre parcel, was sold to the United States Government in 1903 amongst growing fears the park would be turned into a resort, which happened to nearby springs in Hot Springs, Arkansas. An agreement was made between the Chickasaws and the U.S. government to protect the acreage from development. This included 32 freshwater and mineral springs in Murray County. It was named Sulphur Springs Reservation in 1902.
In 1906, Congress re-designated the reservation as Platt National Park and added more acreage. This was named in honor of Orville H. Platt, a senator from Connecticut who introduced legislation to protect these springs. Upon the naming of Platt National Park, it was the seventh and smallest national park created in the United States. It was also the only national park in Oklahoma.
In 1976, Congress deleted the name Platt National Park and combined it with the vast Arbuckle Recreation Area and Lake of the Arbuckles. These additions became the Chickasaw National Recreation Area. In 1983, Veterans Lake, which comprises of 67 acres, was added to to the recreation area. This came about when the city of Sulpher traded a strip of land for the lake.
Now, that a brief background of how this area came to fruition is established, let’s dive into the first thing one might look into when visiting the park. The campgrounds. As many national parks require an entrance fee, CNRA is opposite. There is no fee to enter the park due to the arrangement the Chickasaw tribe made with the U.S. government.
Each of the six campgrounds within the park charge an overnight camp fee. This fee varies based on the campground chosen, as well as what type of camping you will doing (tent vs. camper.) More information on the specifics of each campground may be found at http://www.nps.gov/chic/planyourvisit/campgrounds.htm
The two times we camped at the CNRA, we stayed at the Point Area. There are two loops at the Point, upper and lower. We camped with a small bumper pull camper in the lower loop. There are nine electrical sites and 28 tent sites in the lower loop, with three campsites being handicap accessible. The lower loop is in close proximity to the restrooms and showers building. The electrical sites in the lower loop have water hookup capabilities. None of the sites have sewer hookups, however, a dump station is located on the road entering/existing the campground. I can’t go explain further about that because we didn’t utilize this option. Thankfully, the restrooms and showers in the lower loop building are some of the cleanest, safest, and overall nicest amenities I have seen at a campground. There are men and women’s restrooms with numerous stalls in each, as well as a big shower in each with solar powered hot water. There is also a family shower in the middle of the building with it’s own door and lock. The water in this shower seem to be hotter than the gender specific showers located in the restrooms.
The trash was always taken out, and the automatic flush toilets ensured more cleanliness. Although, I must say, our children are not fond of the automatic flush capabilities. It stinks patrons can’t be responsible enough to flush their own business, but it is what it is. The showers are also handicap accessible, as well as a handicap bathroom stall.
Out of the nine electrical hookup campsites, four are premium sites due to their location adjacent to the Lake of the Arbuckles. I believe they are sites 20-24. The rate for the premium site is a few more dollars than the non-premium sites. The premium rate is $24 per night. We had campsite number #22, which is less than 50 yards from the lake. When we ate at the picnic table, sat in front of the fire and looked out our camper window, the lake was visible and that was definitely worth the few extra bucks. The boys enjoyed watching the boats speed by, and walking along the shore looking for flat rocks to skip.
prepping the clothesline
working in the junior ranger book
recycling and planing our day
chili and sweet corn on the cob
Many of the campsites have a border wall constructed with bricks. It adds another depth of privacy, and we felt that the sites were spread far enough apart. The terrain in between each site gave the perfect amount of privacy, as well. We took a clothesline and strung it up from wall to wall. There is more than enough space in the campsite to do this, and have room to play, sit and eat, in addition to having the camper there.
The fire pit doubles as a grill with an adjustable grate above the back portion. The camp host said any brush already on the ground could be used for firewood, so I would recommend bringing a saw to chop up the broken limbs.
Remember, what you pack in, be sure to pack out. There are many trash dumpsters and recyclable receptacles throughout the campground. Our boys were eager to recycle when they saw the setup.
(Campite 23 pictured above. This was the one next to where we camped. Our is similar except the wall went all the way around three sides at our site.)
While we didn’t venture into the upper loop, I do know that area is available for reservations. All sites in the lower loop are not available for reservation so plan accordingly if it is a busy season!
The area was patrolled by both the camp host and the park ranger multiple times per day.
The Buckhorn campsite is the other location with electric capabilities. We plan on setting up camp at this site on our next trip.
Overall, the Point Area exceeded my camping expectations and proved to be an excellent campsite to spend a few days exploring and relaxing. We definitely felt adventurous at the Point and, even more, so hiking around the rest of the CNRA.
My next travel post will include more information about freshwater springs and hiking opportunities within the CNRA.
(Fishing at the Lake of the Arbuckles near our campsite.)
(The view from our campsite. A storm was rolling in while we were there and it was beautiful to watch the drops pebbled the water in the lake.)
*** Information about the Chickasaw National Recreation Area in the above post was gathered from their website, the Travel OK website and Wikipedia. Also, from our own personal experiences. This is NOT a sponsored post****