Situated about 4.5 miles south from the town of Freedom, the park is renowned for housing the world’s largest natural gypsum cave.
Despite this, it’s a park that faces an uncertain future. As significantly declining visitor numbers, coupled with the fact its one of Oklahoma’s least visited public recreational spaces, has the state authorities contemplating whether or not to close it permanently for budgetary purposes.
For this reason, it’s a place you should definitely try and visit whilst you can, because if it does close, you will miss out on seeing something truly incredible.
About Alabaster Caverns State Park
Alabaster Caverns State Park is one of 32 public recreational spaces that are included in the Oklahoma state park system.
Famous for being the home of the largest natural gypsum caves in the world, the Alabaster Cavern, at three quarters of a mile long, is its main drawcard.
Formed over thousands of years from alabaster – which is a rare type of gypsum – it is currently the largest naturally evolved gypsum cave, anywhere in the world, that is open to the public.
In its heyday the park attracted as many as 40,000 visitors every year.
However, by 2016 that number had declined to less than 25,000, and has continued to reduce every year since then. Hence, the threat of closure that is currently hanging over it.
What is Alabaster?
The park gets its name from the Alabaster that is found throughout its cavern.
A type of soft rock, or mineral, which is regularly used for carving decorative artifacts, Alabaster can also be processed for plaster powder.
Several types of alabaster can be seen at the site, including white, pink, and the extremely rare black alabaster.
The latter of which can only be found in three places in the world – Oklahoma, China and Italy.
Cave Tours and Spelunking
This park gives visitors a rare opportunity to explore these gypsum caves, either by wild caving or guided tours. The latter of which run every day on the hour from 9 am until 4 am.
Restricted to a maximum of 40 visitors per tour, the guided cavern tour lasts for 45 minutes and will take you along a well-lit path, complete with handrails, deep into the heart of the cave.
During the course of the tour you will enter into a cave that is 50 feet high and 60 feet wide. You will also cover a distance of 0.75 miles and negotiate 330 steps. For this reason, the tour is not recommended for those who suffer from claustrophobia, heart conditions or respiratory problems.
For those with a strong adventurous spirit however, there are also four caves that you can go spelunking (wild caving) in. The caves range from 550 feet to 1600 feet in length and you will need to obtain a permit from the park office to explore them.
No permits will be issued between October 1 and March 31. This is to protect the five different species of over 16,000 bats who hibernate in it during this time.
As well as the spelunking and cave related activities you can do, the Alabaster Caverns State Park also offers four hiking trails that are designated as easy to moderate.
Often referred to as the Cedar Canyon Trail System, guests can tackle two half mile trails, as well as trails that are two thirds of a mile and three quarters of a mile in length.
One of the most popular of these trails is the Raptor’s Roost Trail, which runs for two thirds of a mile. Beginning near the cavern entrance, it is named after the birds of prey which are prevalent in the area, and will take you around Cedar Canyon’s southern rim.
The Old Two-Toes Trail is another that is regularly tackled. Named after an imposing 200 pound white wolf which once terrorized the area, the three quarter mile long trail runs from close to the entrance of the Cavern, through to Cedar Canyon. Much of it involves a fairly vigorous uphill walk.
Camping Accommodation At Alabaster Caverns State Park
How do moonlit nights under the stars sound to you?
Well that is exactly what the Alabaster Caverns State Park offers in terms of their camping opportunities at the Mesa Campground.
All up they offer 23 reservable RV and first come, first served, tent sites.
The semi-modern campsites take the form of pull-thru and back-in site styles, as well as some that come with between 30-50 amp electrical outlets.
Conveniently situated within close proximity of a comfort station, that also features hot water pay showers, there are 10 campsites overall.
Sites 1 to 9 are located on a loop that is lined with stately trees and also feature asphalt approaches and concrete pads.
The tenth site 10 is nestled on the outside of the loop. Completely flanked by trees, it also has an asphalt approach and pad.
In addition, there is also a pull-through, handicap-accessible pad, which also has 50-amp electrical service, as well as asphalt approaches and a level concrete pad.
If you are feeling really valorous, there is even the option to camp inside the cave! Though you will need to contact the main park office if this is something you are interested in doing.
The Mesa Campground is situated close to the main park office. This office has a gift shop that sells a nice range of park related memorabilia and souvenirs.
As well as allowing campfires, the campground also has potable water, grills, picnic tables and covered shelters with electricity available which are great for an al fresco meal or picnic.
There is also a playground for younger park guests, which includes a rock climbing wall, a slide and swings. While a horseshoe pit and a volleyball court is also available for those who want to play on it.
Alabaster Caverns State Park
217036 SH 50A
Freedom, OK 73842
The park is open from 8am to 5pm seven days per week. Daily guided tours start promptly each hour from 9am-4pm.
Below is a brief video showcasing a number of attractions at Alabaster Caverns State Park: