Lake Murray State Park: An Overview
Come along on a tour of Lake Murray State Park in Ardmore, Oklahoma’s oldest and largest state park, and discover popular day-use areas, campground information, insider tips and fun park activities.
|Photo: Lisha Newman|
Located a short two hours away from both Oklahoma City and Dallas, Lake Murray State Park is a time-honored, favorite getaway nestled along the serene shoreline of beautiful Lake Murray in south-central Oklahoma near Ardmore. A perfect location for vacationers wishing to escape the urban landscape and get back to nature, Lake Murray State Park offers over 25 miles and 12,500 acres of scenic countryside primed to fit every outdoor recreation need or desire. Plan your trip to Lake Murray State Park and use this overview as an insider’s guide to where to camp, where to swim and what to see during your Lake Murray vacation.
Arriving at the Park
Plan your retreat in the height of spring or summer, and be rewarded with a drive past roadsides dotted with beautiful coral, pink and blue wildflowers on your way to Lake Murray State Park. If arriving from the north on I-35, drivers will pass through a mixture of wide open plains and jutting, rocky hills, while drivers from the south will cross over the Red River that marks the state line and into the welcoming embrace of mature shade trees and the cool waters of Lake Murray.
From I-35, take Exit 24 (accessible from both the north and the south) and follow the signs to the park’s main entrance. Pass by the Lake Murray Golf Course on the left before arriving at the park office. Stop in for information, brochures and a bathroom break before venturing out on the 25-mile paved Highway 77S loop around the park.
Tipp's Point, Cedar Cove & Elephant Rock Campgrounds
From the park office, head north and take the winding road to Tipp’s Point, Cedar Cove and Elephant Rock campgrounds. Known as the most popular campgrounds on the lake’s west side, these campgrounds boast all the amenities you need for a comfortable stay. Both Tipp’s Point and Elephant Rock feature RV camping, as well as comfort stations with showers, picnic pavilions, boat ramps and playgrounds. If you’re not camping, you can still enjoy the swim beaches and direct lake access these areas offer for only $4 per car. Tent camping areas, plenty of room for big RVs, direct access to the wooded Buckhorn Trail and stunning lake views make these campgrounds a sure-fire hit.
E.J. Johnson Memorial Bridge Marker
Heading north on Highway 77S, park and take a break at the E.J. Johnson Memorial Bridge Marker. This unique rock bridge is located just 3.3 miles south of Highway 70 and was built to honor E. J. Johnson, designer and superintendent of the park from 1935-1942. A small stone building and parking area make this a comfortable spot to get out and stretch your legs after a long drive.
Continue heading north to Duke’s Forest, a low-traffic campground complete with a public ball field, picnic pavilion and a comfort station with hot showers. A great location for group outings and group camping, Duke’s Forest accepts group RV reservations for five or more RVs. As an added bonus, the park’s North Boat Ramp is only ½ mile up the road.
Pecan Grove Day-Use Area
One of the prettiest parts of Lake Murray State Park is the Pecan Grove day-use area. Located approximately one mile south of the Highway 77S and Highway 70 intersection, the Pecan Grove area is appropriately named for its beautiful pecan trees scattered throughout the park. A wide, one-way drive will wind guests through the area, which is filled with picnic tables and plump squirrels. The Anadarche Trail begins here and winds approximately one mile north across a small bridge over a lake outcropping filled with vibrant green lily pads and reeds.
Group Camps 1 & 2, RC Flying Field & Field Trial Area
Located along the northern tip of Lake Murray State Park, about ¼ mile south of the Highway 77S and Highway 70 intersection, is the Field Trial Road turn-off for Group Camps 1 and 2, the RC Flying Field and the Field Trial Area. Lake Murray has three group camps, which can sleep large groups of 125-175 guests. Group Camp 1 also boasts three RV sites, a centralized comfort station and kitchen, volleyball and basketball court, boat ramp and private swimming beach. The group camp cabins do not have air conditioning, but have electricity, and many also have fireplaces. The centralized kitchen and dining hall come fully stocked with pots and pans, plates, cups and utensils.
Also located down Field Trial Road is the RC (remote control) Flying Field, which is home to a runway, picnic tables, pilot stations and shade trees. The nearby Field Trial Area offers tent and RV camping, a dump station, a comfort station with showers and horse stables.
Lake Murray State Park is home to an exceptional ATV/ORV Area. From the intersection of Highway 77S and Highway 70, go east 3.2 miles and turn right on Lindsey Drive (look for the big, gold horse across the street). The ATV area is surrounded on two sides by beautiful Lake Murray and has trails that lead right up to the water. Bring your two or four-wheeler out to enjoy 1,000 acres of mostly hard-packed dirt with minimal sand. Mature trees line the trails and you can venture as far off the beaten path as you’d like. State law requires that riders under 18 wear a DOT-approved helmet, and riding double is only permitted when the ATV is manufactured for two people. The cost to ride is $10 per person per day. A large staging area is also available at the trail entrance, which is open from 8am to dusk each day. RV and tent camping spots complete with concrete pads, grills and picnic tables are conveniently available near the ATV gate house.
Sunset Beach Day-Use Area
Located on the east side of the lake, the Sunset Beach day-use area is a great option for people looking to get out and swim without paying a day-use fee. The Sunset Beach Area offers just under a quarter mile of sandy beach and plenty of parking. Vault toilets are also on-site for convenience.
Traveling south from Sunset Beach, visitors will find access to Martin’s Landing, a popular, family-friendly campground that includes everything you need for a great time at the lake. The 50+ tent sites come with picnic tables and grills scattered throughout the grounds, while the spacious RV sites come with full hookups including 50 amp electric and water service. Set up camp in Martin’s Landing and enjoy the convenience of a dump station, comfort station with hot showers, pavilion and new playground. A boat ramp and fishing dock are also located at this handicap accessible campground. Take a dip in the water from the sandy swimming beach or walk along the winding concrete sidewalks.
If you’re looking for a little more privacy, check out the Rock Tower campground, located on the east side of the lake. The Rock Tower campground features spaced out RV and tent sites, and the area is filled with mature trees. The highlight of this campground is the historic, stone water tower. A picnic pavilion, boat ramp, playground, comfort station and dump station round out the amenities at Rock Tower.
Located on the southernmost tip of Lake Murray, Marietta Landing is a heavily wooded area with 30 primitive tent sites and 27 semi-modern RV sites with beautiful lake views. Amenities include a newly renovated playground, boat ramp, comfort station and dump station. While Marietta Landing does not have a swim beach, this area is great for divers looking for lake access.
This must-see tower extends 65 feet into the air and provides stunning bird’s eye views of the lake below.
Driving west across the dam along the southern shore of Lake Murray, you’ll come upon Tucker Tower, the most iconic structure at Lake Murray State Park. The rich history of this historic landmark dates back to 1933 when the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) began building the tower as a summer retreat for then Governor William H. “Alfalfa Bill” Murray. The tower was transformed into a geological museum in 1954 and later became a nature center. This must-see tower extends 65 feet into the air and provides stunning bird’s eye views of the lake below.
Ski Jump Campground
Located in Lake Murray’s former ski jump cove, the park’s Ski Jump campground offers primitive tent camping with fire pits, picnic tables, grills and direct views of Tucker Tower. Pitch your tent in this area and enjoy great lake views and a peaceful beach protected from the wind.
Traveling north from ski jump cove toward the park office, you’ll find Buzzard’s Roost campground, a popular camping area surrounded by lake views and water access, as well as beautiful views of Tucker Tower. A recent renovation has given Buzzard’s Roost Campground a fresh look with 50+ tent sites and over 30 RV sites. This area can get crowded, so secure your spot early in the day.
Lake Murray Marina & Beach Area
Located 1 ½ miles south of Lodge Road and Highway 77S, the Lake Murray Marina is a floating one-stop shop that can be accessed from land or water. Grab your favorite snacks and drinks while re-fueling your boat, or rent a pontoon boat for a half or full day and enjoy the lake. With 450 slip rentals available, a SCUBA shop, comfort station with restrooms and showers, boat ramp and free swimming beach, the marina area is a popular base for lake activities.
Lake Murray Golf Course & Riding Stables
Located near the Lodge Road and Highway 77S intersection are the Lake Murray Golf Course and horse stables. The golf course features a pro shop, practice range and 18-holes scattered within towering oak trees, strategically placed water hazards and a beautiful natural waterfall. Guests can also take a horseback ride or hayride at the Lake Murray Riding Stables, where private trail rides are available.
Lake Murray Lodge
Lake Murray Lodge is a convenient, lakeside lodging facility that offers comfortable accommodations including 52 guest rooms and suites equipped with cable television and coffee makers. Settle in to your lodge room and explore the lodge, which features a parlor lounge, a comfortable sitting area with fireplace, the on-site Apple Bin Restaurant and a fully equipped game room. Lodge guests will enjoy access to a large pool, two tennis courts and a Frisbee golf area.
Lake Murray Water Sports & Mini-Golf
Located just in front of the lodge is Lake Murray Water Sports & Mini-Golf, which offers an 18-hole miniature golf course and rentals for paddleboats, kayaks, canoes, water bikes, sail boats, a water trampoline and a water slide. Guests can also rent waverunners and jet boats, as well as all the equipment you need like wakeboards, tubes and skis. Sunset cruises are also available each night and run about an hour and fifteen minutes. During the day, guests can also go out on a pontoon boat tour, which lasts about a half hour.
Lake Murray Cabins
Lake Murray State Park offers 56 cabins tucked alongside mature shade trees and winding roads just east of the Lodge Road and Highway 77S intersection. Accommodating anywhere from 2-12 guests, these cabins (33 of which were built by the CCC in the 1930s), now feature modern amenities such as flat screen TVs, wood floors, new furniture and renovated kitchens, while still maintaining their historic exteriors of wood, log and stone. The largest and most popular cabin is the Colston Cabin, a three-bedroom cabin that can sleep up to 12 people and features a fireplace, wet bar and private dock.
Lake Murray Floating Cabins
For something truly out of the ordinary, rent a floating vacation villa at Lake Murray Floating Cabins, formerly known as Lake Murray Bed & Berth, and enjoy premium accommodations, sleeping lofts, full kitchens and cable television, all while relaxing in your villa situated directly on the waters of Lake Murray. Guests can bring their own jet ski or waverunner and moor their watercraft off private decks after a long day exploring the lake.