My State Park Passport: Fall Break in Oklahoma

Are you looking for an adventure? I’m Sydney Daugherty, age 9. Let me tell you about my adventure in the northwest passage of Oklahoma! Five Oklahoma State Parks, seventy-two hours, and tons of fun! (Minus the mosquito bites and grass burrs! But more about that later.)

My State Park Passport: Sydney Daugherty at Roman Nose State Park.

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My first stop was Roman Nose State Park near Watonga, Oklahoma. I got to stay at the Roman Nose State Park Lodge. It’s a great place for kids to stay! My favorite thing to eat at the restaurant was the delicious cheese pizza and French toast for breakfast.

Before my first adventure, I decided to follow my State Park Passport’s advice and try out of a few of the yoga poses. Boy am I glad I did that! I went on a four-mile nature walk to Inspiration Point. I saw the waters of Bitter Creek, Lake Watonga, Lake Boecher, and beautiful, glittery rock formations. After our walk, we played a round of putt putt golf. It was really fun, but I’m pretty sure I lost. We sat out on the front porch of the general store and enjoyed an ice cream after. I had a great time exploring the pavilion built by the CCC way back in the 1930s. I got to climb around huge old tree roots and balance my way across a creek.

I made quick trips to Little Sahara State Park in Waynoka, Oklahoma and Gloss Mountain State Park north of Fairview, Oklahoma. I didn’t bring my four wheeler, but man was it amazing to see huge sand dunes like in a desert right here in Oklahoma! At Little Sahara, they have an awesome observation deck with binoculars and cool signs with fun facts about the wildlife in the area. Keep your eyes peeled for rattlesnakes! At Gloss Mountain, you will need all of your climbing muscles ready to go. There is a steep climb up the mesa, but the view at the top is so worth it. You can see for miles all around. It made me love my state so much.

Next stop, Alabaster Caverns State Park near Freedom, Oklahoma. This was the best! The tours run every hour on the hour. Be sure you grab your sticker for your passport while you wait. The tour guide takes you down into the cave. The first thing I noticed was how cool and damp it was. I also noticed a weird sound, which was the sound of bats everywhere. They were in the cracks and all over the inside of the cave. But don’t worry, they won’t hurt you. In fact, they won’t come near you. The deepest part of the cave was about 80 feet below ground. Our tour guide was awesome! He told us all about the alabaster inside the cave, which is softer than your fingernail. You can touch it, but don’t scratch it up. Did you know that there is a chunk of black alabaster at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. that came from this cave? So if you ever see black alabaster, it came from this special cave in Oklahoma. The cave is really dark and there’s special lights that come on and go off. The coolest part was when they turned all the light out inside the cave. It was total darkness, just like if you were blind. The deeper you into the cave, the stickier the clay gets that you walk on. So be sure to wear tennis shoes with good grips!

Our last adventure was Great Salt Plains State Park in Jet, Oklahoma. I got to stay in one of the cabins, grill hamburgers outside, play on the swings, and roll down a huge hill. That was great fun, until I realized I had rolled through grass burrs. Ouch! But that didn’t stop us from enjoying a beautiful Oklahoma sunset over the Great Salt Plains Lake. I wasn’t able to dig for crystals this time because the migratory birds had begun to nest. But I’ll be back for another adventure!

Here are some good tips and things you want to know before you visit these parks:

• Always remember to pick up your passport sticker!
• Ask the park rangers, tour guides, and other staff lots of questions. They have great tips.

Roman Nose State Park
• I didn’t get to try it this time, but try out the horseback riding.
• Kayaking and canoeing is available, so bring proper clothing for that.
• Swimming in the pools at the park and lodge would be great in the summer.

Little Sahara State Park
• Bring your off road vehicle for sure!
• If you have an RV, you can camp out there.

Gloss Mountain State Park
• This is great for a quick trip on the way to another state park.
• If you want to stay longer, there are picnic tables available.
• The best time to visit is the cooler months, especially fall or spring.
• You might need to get your passport sticker for this park at Little Sahara because there isn’t a park ranger on site.

Alabaster Caverns State Park
• Be sure you bring a warm fleece or sweatshirt.
• Wear your tennis shoes with good grips!

Great Salt Plains State Park
• Be sure to check the dates you can dig for crystals. There are times during the year when the migratory birds need to have a quiet time for nesting.
• Bring your bucket and little shovels to collect selenite crystals.
• Be sure to bring mosquito repellant to keep those pesky things away!

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