As one of the original seven parks built in Oklahoma by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), Osage Hills State Park has been around since 1935. Many of the structures from the original work are still there, including the eight cottages still used by guests today. This 1,100-acre park is located in the northeastern part of Oklahoma in Osage County by Bartlesville. The thick and majestic forests, crystal clear water, and rugged bluffs are some of the main attractions for thousands of visitors every year.
During the late spring and summer months, enjoy swimming, boating, and fishing on Lookout Lake or Sand Creek. You can catch perch, catfish, crappie, and many types of bass in the waters of Osage Hills State Park. If you didn’t bring a boat, you can rent one at the park. In the fall, the autumn turns the trees into vibrantly colored works of art and brings out certain wildlife like turkeys and deer. Take a hike on one of the five trails in the park so you can enjoy all the beauty the park has to offer.
You will enjoy staying overnight at one of the campsites in the park, but you better make your reservation early because there are only 20 RV sites. You can also choose from 23 tent sites, two walled tents, eight cabins, and a group campground. The kids will enjoy the playground, picnic area, and pool, and you can even bring your furbaby with you.
Located in northeastern Oklahoma right off OK-35, Osage Hills State Park is in Osage Nation, which is over a million acres of federally protected land. To get to the park, you can take US-60 if you are coming from the north or west, US-75 from the east, or OK-11 from the south. Tulsa is only an hour to the south on the Arkansas River. It is known for its awesome architecture and the Philbrook Museum of Art, so be sure to stop by for some photos.
The roads that take you to Osage Hills State Park are typically flat and well-maintained, so you should not have any driving difficulties. However, it is always a good idea to drive slowly in these rural areas. You never know when one of those wild critters is going to try to cross the road. You will also enjoy the scenery if you take it slow. Inside the park, the roads are mostly paved and easy to drive on until you head into the cabin area where the roads can be very narrow with tight curves.
If you are interested in seeing some other parks while you are in the area, Wah Sha She State Park is just 25 miles to the northeast in Osage County and has over 250 acres on the banks of Hulah Lake. They also have a campground if you want to make it an overnighter on your way to your next adventure. You can also visit the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, which is the biggest protected tallgrass prairie left on the planet. Only 15 miles from the park, you can stop by and check it out during your stay or on your way home.
Osage RV Campground has 20 large and wooded campsites that can accommodate motorhomes and trailers from 25 to 60 feet long. Each site has 30- to 50-amp electric and water hookups so you can cook inside if you want to. You can also use your generator if you need to, but not after 11:00 PM. Outside you can find a fire pit with a grill to cook on and a large picnic table where you can all eat together. There is no need to balance your plate on your lap in a camp chair while trying to eat.
Bring along your four-legged family members too because the park welcomes them as long as they are well-behaved and cared for. Keep Fido and Fluffy on a leash or crated at all times during your park visit. The kids will love having a playground and ball fields nearby, as well as a swimming pool. Take the whole family on one of the hiking trails to enjoy flora and fauna of Osage Hills State Park.
Want to get out of the rig for a night or two? You can even bring your furbaby with you. Tucked into the middle of the park, surrounded by woods and the Cabin Trail, there are eight stone cabins that were made in the 1930s when the park was built. Although they still look like they did back when they were built, they have been updated with central air and heat as well as modern furniture and appliances.
You can choose from a one-bedroom cabin that can accommodate four and a two-bedroom cabin that sleeps six, but you better book early. There is only one of the two-bedroom units available, and it is usually booked up way in advance. Decked out with a full kitchen, dining table with chairs, a couch and sitting area in the living room, and a fireplace, these cabins are popular with the locals as well as those from out of town.
Are you planning a large party or get-together? Or maybe you just have a very large family. Down at the end of the road past the tennis courts, this group camp is set up for up to 120 people with ten cabins that can each sleep up to 12 people. There is also a huge dining hall and a commercial kitchen with all the appliances and hookups you need. Restrooms and showers are available at the main building, and there are beds in each cabin.
You will find a bunch of picnic tables and a large campfire ring for the group. There is also a BBQ pit by the dining hall. The swimming pool is just a short walk up Falls Trail, and the waterfalls are a short walk to the south on the same trail. Grab a fishing pole and toss a line into Sand Creek while you are there. You and your group will have plenty of space to play horseshoes, frisbee, or volleyball. You can also walk up to the tennis court where the basketball court is as well. There is plenty to do for everyone.
If you didn’t bring a tent, but still want to camp outside, Osage Hills State Park has two walled tents already set up for visitors to enjoy. A walled tent is a tent made with four straight vertical walls to make more room. They are made out of heavy canvas to keep out the heat and cold and built on a wooden platform with wooden braces around the outside to make them sturdier and more comfortable.
Many visitors who try them say they are more like cabins than tents. They even have cots set up inside and a wood stove heater in case you get cold. The front has an extra eight feet of platform to make a deck with the canvas stretched over it for protection from the elements. A walled tent weekend is a unique experience similar to yurt camping. You will have all the same amenities as the RV campground since they are actually inside the campground.
If you want to get out and do some rugged camping, try parking the RV in the lot and staying in a tent. Tent Hill Campground has 23 tent sites right up the hill from the Osage RV Campground. The sites all have a picnic table that seats six and a campfire ring with a grill you can cook on. There is also plenty of space to hang out and play horseshoes or frisbee.
You will be within walking distance to a comfort station with hot showers and modern toilets as well as potable water. Children and pets love the walled tents, and you will be close to the Lookout Tower so you can take a hike up to see that. Sand Creek is not a far walk, and you can ride up to Lookout Lake on a bike or in your vehicle. Be sure to make your reservations early since there are only 23 of these available.
If you would rather use your bike instead of walking the trails, the 3.1-mile Red Trail is your best choice in Osage Hills State Park. It is rated as intermediate because of the terrain, but it is great for those who love extreme sports. Others may find themselves walking their bike on some of the sections. Some of the areas have steep drop-offs, so you will need to be careful and wear a helmet and other protective gear. And keep your eyes open for buffalo and other wild critters that roam the area.
Osage Hills State Park has five nice hiking trails ranging from 0.5 miles to 3.6 miles long that are rated as easy. Take the short and easy Falls Trail, which is only a half-mile and takes you to one of the amazing waterfalls you can see on Sand Creek. Start at the parking lot by the swimming pool, and you can meander through the woods to the falls. You may also enjoy the two-mile Tower Lake Loop that takes you to the Lookout Tower where you can see for miles. This easy trail goes past the bluffs, along the lake, by the old CCC camp, and past the amphitheater before taking you back to where you started.
Fishing is one of the most popular activities in Osage Hills State Park all year long. During the summer, try some early morning fly fishing for bass and crappie or drop a heavy line with live bait to catch one of the whopper catfish in the lake. Bass typically hit on any kind of topwater flies or spinner bait, but they won’t say no to a big juicy worm either. Try different techniques in and around water structures and other hidey-holes. Off-season fishing is fun too; you just have to dress warmer. Be sure to get an Oklahoma fishing license first.
Toss the kayaks in the rig before heading to Osage Hills State Park. You can either paddle on Lookout Lake or take a trip down Sand Creek, which can be fast water in some areas. The lake is the perfect spot to toss in a line while you are out there, so you can find the hungry fish you cannot reach from the banks. If you did not bring your kayaks, you can rent some from the lake with all the equipment you'll need like ores and life jackets.
If you are going to be planning a trip to Osage Hills State Park from Memorial Day weekend until Labor Day, pack your swimsuits and sunscreen in the RV. The park boasts a huge outdoor pool open from Wednesday through Sunday, weather permitting. It is closed Mondays and Tuesdays for cleaning and maintenance. However, you can always splash around in Sand Creek or Lookout Lake if you don’t mind swimming with the fish. Just be careful because there are no lifeguards out there.
Thinking of doing something different on this camping trip? Pack some sports equipment because they have a huge ball field, basketball court, and tennis courts on-site. Head out and play some tennis with your family or toss a few balls on the ball field. Bring a bat and some gloves in your motorhome so you can test your baseball skills. These kinds of memories are the ones you will remember the best.