We've gathered all the latest news and updates about Oklahoma state parks right here as a handy referencefor you. From extreme water levels to updates on new facilities in our parks, here's all the latestbuzz.
The Hawk bath house in Carson Creek area campgrounds has been closed until further notice for extensive renovations. The nearest bath house is at Armadillo Circle on the Stevens Gap area campgrounds.
Due to flooding from heavy rains all boat ramps are closed along with the following campgrounds:
All of Paradise Cove
Choctaw Tents 2-16, 26-31
Creek Tents 1, 11-14, 19-21
Cherokee 5-7, 13-14, 26-27, 32-33, 37-39, 43-46, 50-51, 54-69, 72-79
Due to rising water levels some of our trails are partially under water, including Whispering Pines, Fossil, Bluebird and Sequoyah Paved.
Due to heavy rains the following campsites and Sequoyah Bay Trail are closed:
Please note the following Blue Green Algae update from the Grand River Dam Authority.
The Grand River Dam Authority is reporting the presence of a blue green algae (BGA) bloom in the Horse Creek arm of Grand Lake. Water quality testing performed over the weekend by the GRDA Ecosystems and Watershed Management Department confirmed the bloom, extending from Fly Creek (which feeds into Horse Creek) and then out under the Bernice Bridge into the main lake.
Although its testing has confirmed that toxicity levels in this BGA bloom remain low, GRDA is advising the public to use extra precaution in this area of the lake as the situation can change rapidly and the bloom can concentrate as it is pushed by the wind and waves. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines, published in 2019, recommend no primary body contact with the water when microcystin concentration produced by the BGA is greater than eight micrograms per liter (>8ug/l). GRDA’s latest sampling shows the toxin level in Horse Creek at less than one microgram per liter (<1ug/L).
“While most algae blooms are not toxic, toxins can be produced in some algae blooms dominated by Blue Green Algae,” said GRDA Vice President of Corporate Communications Justin Alberty. “We have communicated these test results to the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department, the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, and the Oklahoma Water Resources Board. Right now, we are closely monitoring the area and will provide regular updates as the situation progresses.”
“However, Grand Lake is plenty big, with room for the public to come out and enjoy. We just encourage everyone to play safe and please be aware of the BGA report for this specific area.”
According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, exposure to BGA can cause skin irritation, including rashes, hives or blisters. Inhalation of BGA can also trigger asthma-like conditions or allergic reactions. Finally, ingestion of BGA water can cause stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting. Due to their body size, young children are especially susceptible to the effects of BGA. It is also important to keep pets from drinking and swimming in water containing BGA water.
BGA may resemble thick pea soup, green paint or bluish, brownish, or reddish-green paint. When BGA washes up on shore, it can form a thick mat on the beach. BGA can reproduce rapidly in water bodies with adequate amounts of sunlight and nutrients such as phosphorous and nitrogen. It is recommended that individuals avoid swimming or participating in water recreational activities in areas where the water is discolored or where you see foam, scum, or mats of algae on the water.
Municipalities that draw raw water from this area should be taking the necessary steps to ensure the quality of their water by utilizing their water treatment systems, and lake residents who draw water from this area should avoid consumption of and contact with the water until further notice. Simply boiling water that may contain BGA does not remove the toxins from the water.
Since a large BGA outbreak across Grand Lake and many other Oklahoma lakes in July 2011, GRDA has increased its focus on programs to improve water quality in the Grand Lake watershed, to limit the inflow of nutrients that help fuel BGA.
In late 2020, GRDA announced it was leasing 237 acres along Horse Creek to be established as a natural riparian easement. When managed properly such areas can filter as much as 80 percent of pollutants before they runoff into creeks or streams.
Earlier this year, GRDA also joined with the Oklahoma Conservation Commission (OCC), the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) and the Oklahoma Water Resources Board (OWRB) in a program to offer septic system repair or replacement assistance to homeowners in the Grand Lake and Lake Hudson watersheds. Additionally, GRDA’s “Guard the Grand” watershed conservation program also launched in 2020, to help educate area residents on issues surrounding the Grand Lake watershed and how they can play a role in helping to improve area water quality.
If you see a BGA bloom, ODEQ recommends that you avoid all contact with the water, keep your pets and livestock away from the water and immediately contact ODEQ at (800) 522 0206 or GRDA at (918) 256 0911.
Due to ongoing construction along SH 28 across the dam, drivers should be aware of flagging operations related to the construcion and plan for longer drive time.
Repairs to the Watonga dam will begin in early April with the lake being dewatered starting around April 12th to repair the primary spillway. In addition, the emergency spillways will be renovated. Repairs are expected to be completed by August.
1. Why is the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department implementing the Parking Pass Program?
A 2019 analysis of state park facilities and infrastructure found that, for years, funding levels have been well below the amount needed to adequately maintain our state parks at a level that would ensure the safe and enjoyable use of our parklands. In response, the agency developed a multi-pronged strategy to streamline processes, reduce operational costs and increase revenue in order to adequately fund capital reinvestment in our parks. Funding generated by the Parking Pass Program will provide much-needed resources to return park facilities and infrastructure to an acceptable standard and maintain them at that standard.
Parking pass fees from each state park are reinvested into the park where they were generated.
2. When will the Parking Pass Program begin?
The program will begin June 15, 2020.
3. Which state parks are participating in the program?
4. What areas of the parks will require a parking pass?
With some exceptions, all areas of participating parks will require visitors to purchase a parking pass. Exceptions include golf courses and some concessionaire areas, as identified by park management and approved by the Parks Director. Signage will be placed at park entrances and in parking areas to notify visitors of parking pass requirements.
5. Are there any state parks or areas of state parks that visitors can use without the parking pass requirement?
Yes, in addition to the previously mentioned areas approved by the Parks Director, the following state parks will not require parking passes:
Alabaster Caverns State Park
Black Mesa State Park
Bernice Area at Grand Lake State Park
Cherokee Area at Grand Lake State Park
Spavinaw Area at Grand Lake State Park
Little Sahara State Park
McGee Creek State Park
Roman Nose State Park
6. What is the cost of a parking pass?
Parking pass rates are per vehicle, according to the following chart. Vehicles with an Oklahoma or Oklahoma tribal license plate will receive a 20% discount on rates. When purchasing passes, visitors will select the dates and time they want their pass to begin and end. The annual pass is valid for all Oklahoma State Parks; other passes are valid for the individual park selected during the purchase process.
One Day - $10 | Discounted Rate - $8.00
Three Day - $25.00 | Discounted Rate - $20.00
One Week - $35.00 | Discounted Rate - $28.00
Annual - $75.00 | Discounted Rate - $60.00 Good for one year from purchase date.
Buses (per day) - $25.00
7. How will visitors purchase parking passes?
There are several ways to purchase a parking pass:
TextPay - Upon arrival to the park, instructional parking lot signage will direct visitors to text a park-specific code to 504504, which will take them to a website to purchase a pass. The text message also provides visitors the opportunity to download a mobile app. https://www.premiumparking.com/text-pay
TravelOK.com - Each state park page on TravelOK.com contains a link that visitors can use to pre-purchase passes in advance of their visit.
Mobile App - Visitors may download the Premium Parking app from the app store, or at https://www.premiumparking.com/mobile-parking
Pay Machines - Pay machines are located at park offices and other locations within participating parks.
Purchase of Annual Passes - On Premium Parking’s initial screen page, where it requests “address, location or destination” – type in "Oklahoma State Parks". On the second screen page, select a state park (it will receive the revenue from your subscription). Your pass is good at all Oklahoma state parks. Up to three vehicles can be registered on your annual pass account. To pay for your account, click the “Pay for Subscription” button. If you’re an Oklahoma resident, as you enter your Oklahoma car tag number, your account will be credited with the 20% discount at the last step of the subscription protocol.
8. Will visitors that have reserved lodging or campsites be required to purchase a parking pass?
While all passenger vehicles visiting participating state parks will be required to purchase a parking pass, each paid lodging and campsite reservation will include a parking pass for one passenger vehicle that will cover the duration of the reservation.
9. Do I need to purchase a parking pass for my trailer or boat?
No, only wheeled passenger vehicles are required to purchase a parking pass, such as cars, trucks, motorcycles, vans, buses, etc. A parking pass is not required for boats and hauling trailers.
10. Do I need to purchase a parking pass for my RV? What if I am hauling a passenger vehicle behind my RV?
Yes, unless you have a valid lodging reservation with the park (for example, day visitors driving RVs are required to purchase a parking pass). Only one parking pass is required for RVs pulling passenger vehicles (enter your passenger vehicle information during the purchase process).
11. Are discounts available for parking passes?
Yes, the following groups will receive a discount:
State of Oklahoma and Oklahoma tribal license plates: 20% discount on parking passes automatically applied during the purchase process.
Honorably discharged veterans who are residents of Oklahoma: 100% discount with eligibility verification by Oklahoma State Parks. For verification, the following documents are acceptable:
A valid Oklahoma driver license or state photo identification card and military discharge papers (DD Form 214) or similar evidence of an honorable discharge from the United States Armed Forces; or,
A valid Oklahoma driver license or identification card issued by the Department of Public Safety with a flag emblem and the word "veteran" in the upper left-hand corner of the front of the driver license or identification card.
Vehicle tag and registration information.
Oklahoma residents 62 years of age or older, and their spouses: 100% discount with eligibility verification by Oklahoma State Parks. For verification, a driver’s license with an Oklahoma address is acceptable. Applicants will also need to provide vehicle tag and registration information.
Individuals who have been certified as totally disabled under state or federal law, and their spouses: 50% discount with eligibility verification by Oklahoma State Parks. For verification, the following documents are acceptable:
the presentation of a Medicare card issued to an individual prior to their 65th birthday;
a Notice of Award letter from the Social Security Administration; hunting and fishing license that notes total disability;
award letter issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs or a document issued by a retirement or insurance board, commission or administration that attests to the individual's total disability; or,
a physician’s letter, on letterhead stationery, that declares the individual is totally disabled.
Discounts cannot be combined. For example, a totally disabled Oklahoma resident would not receive both a 20% discount and a 50% discount (70%) but would receive the 50% discount.
12. How do I get my discount?
Visitors with Oklahoma or Oklahoma tribal plates will receive the 20% discount automatically at checkout on the Premium Parking app or website.
Visit any state park office and provide the required documentation listed above in question 11. Park staff will assist you in obtaining your parking pass account which will reflect your discount.
13. Will patrons of in-park restaurants be required to purchase a parking pass if they are only visiting the park in order to have a meal?
Restaurants and other concessionaires may offer validations to patrons upon approval of the park manager and Parks Director. Validations are provided via a promo code.
14. What about patrons who have rented boat slips at a marina?
Marina concessionaires will provide one parking hangtag to each slip renter. This tag is good for the park where the marina is located, and must be returned to the marina at the end of the slip lease term.
15. What happens if a vehicle does not have a valid parking pass?
The parking pass requirement is enforced 24/7 by park staff and park rangers. Vehicles without valid passes may be subject to warnings, violation notices, towing and/or other enforcement measures.
16. What if there is a problem with the pay machine or a visitor has a problem with their payment?
Contact our program partner, Premium Parking, for customer service and support, (844) 236-2011.