Nestled in the boundary of western Oklahoma Panhandle, Colorado, and New Mexico, Black Mesa State Park lies in a plateau covered by black lava rock. This geology is actually where the park gets its name. For RVers, this serene park is the perfect combination of nature, history, geology, and outdoor recreation.
Approximately 30 million years ago a volcanic eruption occurred, splashing its thick lava in this plateau coating the rocks black. Many fossils including those of dinosaurs have been discovered by geologists here. Surprisingly the ‘real’ Black Mesa lies 13 miles west of Black Mesa State Park. Raising at 4,973 feet, this is the highest point in Oklahoma and the second highest peak of Black Mesa.
Established in 1959, the 54-acre park features a 200-acre lake Carl Etling, which is a center of many water activities like fishing. On land, you can hike, view wildlife, or enjoy stargazing. If you want to spend a few days in the park, you can park your motorhome on over 25 designated RV campsites. Oklahoma’s Black Mesa mainly constitutes of three areas of interest: the Black Mesa State Park, Black Mesa Nature Preserve and the Black Mesa Summit Hike.
RV Rentals in Black Mesa State Park
Transportation in Black Mesa State Park
The road leading to the park is partly dirt and partly paved. It meanders through the high plains and rocky outcroppings offering visitors a scenic and exciting drive. Depending on where you are coming from, Black Mesa State Park is serviced by two entrances; the south entrance marked as 325 and the north entrance which is closest to Kenton. Interior roads are gravel and give great access to the nature preserve, Summit Trail parking lot, and the campground. There are multiple short hikes in Black Mesa State Park leading visitors to their desired points of interests.
Campgrounds and parking in Black Mesa State Park
Campsites in Black Mesa State Park
Camping at Black Mesa State Park
Black Mesa State Park offers a pet-friendly campground with 29 RV sites and 25 tent sites. All RV campsites feature water and electric hookups. There is no sewer hookup, but a dump station near the comfort station is available. You'll also find a picnic table, fire pit, grill, and lantern holder at your campsite. Centrally located showers and restrooms are within walking distance.
There is public Wi-Fi access near the rangers’ station. Some areas of the park offer fairly good cell phone reception. Campers should carry plenty of food, drinks, and fuel their vehicles since the nearby town of Kenton is rather small. The closest functional towns to Black Mesa State Park are Boise 37 miles east and Clayton 47 miles southwest. RVs and trailers up to 50 feet long can be accommodated.
Seasonal activities in Black Mesa State Park
Sightseeing at Black Mesa Nature Preserve
Nature lovers should strive to spend quality time in Black Mesa Nature Preserve. Sitting on 16,000 acres, the Nature Preserve covers much of the Black Mesa territory. Designated as a protected area this nature preserve plays host to some of the rare plants and animals native only to the mesa. Being a transitional point for the Rocky Mountain region and prairie grassland, you can expect to see diverse fauna and flora.
Wildlife Viewing and Birding
In the past years close to 60 species of birds have been documented in the mesa region making it one of the go-to birding destinations in the state. No wonder there is a trail named Bird Haven Trail in the Nature Preserve area! If you plan on taking the route, please remember to carry a pair of binoculars. Many species of raptors and corvids are routinely spotted.
If you love viewing wildlife in their natural territories, the park is a habitat for bighorn sheep, black bears, and mountain lions. Reptilian species such as snakes, collared lizards, and mud turtles are often spotted. There are over five species of toads and over 150 species of butterfly and moths.
Exploring northwest Oklahoma is never complete without stargazing at Black Mesa State Park. Aside from the street lights lining the campground Oklahoma’s panhandle region has some of the darkest night skies making it a stargazer’s paradise. Don’t forget to load up your campervan with a telescope and a good camera with night vision. If you are an avid astronomer, you should visit in August when the park holds the annual Perseid meteor. For perfect night sky photos, campers should move away from the campground area.
Dotted with prairie, jupiter, and cactus this remote region presents hikers with trails of varying lengths and difficulty. If you are the adventurous type you can pack your camper in the summit parking lot near the trailhead in preparation for the eight and a half mile trek to the top of black mesa. With little to no shade, the summit hike takes three to five hours depending, on your skill level. Aside from half a mile that is steep, the rest of the trail leading to the flat-topped plateau is relatively flat. Visitors should watch for poisonous rattlesnakes especially in the evening. The area is very humid so make sure to carry plenty of water. You can get the most spectacular sunset at the peak.
You won't be disappointed when you bring your camper to the Black Mesa with your fishing gear in tow. Lake Carl Etling is known for its excellent winter trout fishing. The trout population is supplemented seasonally from November through April. Anglers can also expect to catch sunfish, largemouth and smallmouth bass. Shoreline fishing and fly fishing are permitted. Anglers are required to have a valid fishing license.
There are two designated picnic areas that you and your family can enjoy during your RV trip to OK. Equipped with 18 charcoal grills, benches, and picnic tables, families and friends can catch up as they gaze at the pretty black rock of the mesa plateau and the blooming of desert plants. There is nothing like a scenic picnic to get you in the spirit of the great outdoors.