One of the least-visited parks in the Oklahoma State Park system is also one of the best places to take your RV for the weekend. Crowds are sparse, the RV campsite is excellent, and there are lots of things to do.
Alabaster Caverns State Park boasts the largest gypsum cave in the world that’s open to the public. There are only two other such caves in the world. One is in China, and the other one is in Italy. Both guided tours and spelunking tours are available and encouraged. So, you can learn about the cave from a ranger or explore it on your own.
Northwestern Oklahoma is well-known for outdoor attractions, so there are a number of other things to do at Alabaster Caverns State Park. Birding, hiking, wildlife viewing, and picnicking are all very popular activities.
Taking your own RV to the campground is the best way to experience this park. This part of Oklahoma is also quite remote, so you’ll appreciate having all the comforts of home at your disposal. Alabaster Caverns State Park’s RV campground has lots of space and amenities.
If you are coming from Oklahoma City, there are basically three ways to reach Alabaster Caverns State Park. There’s the direct interstate route, the indirect scenic route, and the really indirect scenic route.
The interstate route starts at I-35 in Blackwell. Exit and take Highway 64 west to State Road 50 south. Both those secondary roads are almost literally straight lines for the entire route. They are well-maintained, for the most part, and also have relatively wide shoulders.
Alternatively, you can take Highway 412 west from I-35. The interchange is about halfway between Perry and Tonkawa. Highway 412 is a straight line to Enid, and then it meanders a bit before you reach the Alabaster Caverns State Park cutoff. Enid is also a lot bigger than the other small towns in northern Oklahoma.
The super-scenic route is Interstate 40 to U.S. Highway 270. Depending on exactly which route you follow after that, this direction goes through about a half-dozen towns. Most of them are extremely small one-light towns, but they all have that Americana character. A few of them were waystations along the old Route 66.
Inside the park, RV parking outside the campsite is available not far from the cave entrance. However, you still have to walk outdoors a bit, which is why most people come here in the first place.
The Alabaster Caverns State Park campground is open year-round, even when the cave is closed for the winter. All 11 sites have electrical and water hookups. Moreover, each RV campsite has an outdoor grill and a picnic table so that you can enjoy the outdoors even more. The park’s RV dump station is a short distance down the road on a large loop. Other RV campground amenities include a group picnic area, restroom/shower area, children’s playground, and amphitheater. There are two remote primitive tent campsites as well if you want a change of pace.
Oklahoma state law requires us to lead with this park feature. A retreating seabed formed these gypsum caverns about 200 million years ago. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, outlaws often used them as hideouts. From entrance to exit, the cave is about a quarter of a mile long. A shuttle runs from the exit to the entrance. Daily ranger-guided tours accommodate up to 40 visitors per tour. These tours are along well-lit paths that have lots of handrails, but there are also a few very long staircases. Or, you can go spelunking (wild caving) in one of four smaller alabaster caves. Spelunking is unavailable in the fall and winter due to hibernating bats. At last count, there were about 19,000 bats from five different species living in these caverns.
The landscape here is quite diverse. Groves of tall trees dot the grasslands and spring-fed creeks run through canyons. So, there are lots of native birds here as well. During the spring and summer, there are usually about 50 species of songbirds in the skies. Other seasonal birds include owls, dove, quail, roadrunners, and wild turkeys. The Alabaster Caverns Bridge in the northern part of the park is a great place to see lots of birds.
This annual event held in early April is pretty cool. During the day, there are lots of hands-on exhibits featuring the equipment scientists use to track bats and record their activity. Lectures and discussion groups are available as well. You can also snoop around the cave and see if you can spot these little critters as they sleep during the day. At dusk, watch thousands of bats fly into the evening sky as they begin their nightly flying insect hunt.
Those long, chilly, and dark Northwest Oklahoma nights are a good time to get under a quilt indoors or go outside and see the stars. Far from the city light, thousands are clearly visible with the naked eye. If you have a telescope, even a small one goes a long way. This instrument brings out details in both the inner planets and gas giants. On a moonless night, expect to see lots of shooting stars and gas nebulae as well.
Alabaster Caverns State Park has a volleyball court and horseshoe pit. These activities are a lot of fun whether you come with a large group or just a few people. The whole family can enjoy some friendly competition and then relax afterwards with a picnic without even having to leave the park.
A nearly two-mile hiking trail basically loops from the RV campground to a seasonal creek and back again. The trail is very flat for the most part, but it does go through a small canyon. The canyon walls are cool at sunrise or sunset. There is little traffic, so go at your own pace. There is a nice sheltered picnic area at the near end, and restroom facilities near a primitive campsite on the far end.