Of all Oklahoma’s 32 state parks, Salt Plains State Park is arguably the most intriguing.
Renowned for its barren landscape that developed as a consequence of salt that was left behind from a prehistoric era, during which time all of Oklahoma was covered by a massive ocean, the park is now centered around a lake that is half as salty as the ocean.
One of the only places in the world where you can dig up selenite crystals, it is a haven for those who have a sense of adventure.
It also has excellent camping facilities too, which is another reason why it is a popular destination for those who live in Tulsa, Wichita, and Oklahoma City. As both of those places are a similar driving time away from it.
From picnicking, fishing and digging for selenite crystals to swimming, hiking and horseback riding, the park offers plenty of opportunities for visitors to enjoy a range of outdoor activities.
Here is more information about some of the things you can do.
Boating and Swimming at Salt Plains State Park
Whilst at the park, there are ample opportunities for boating and swimming around the Great Salt Plains State Park.
Canoeing and kayaking are regularly practiced by many visitors. While those who want to go for a swim can either do it at the lake, which is not too deep. Or at the fabulous sandy beach that is located just by the aptly named Sandy Beach Campground.
Fishing at Salt Plains State Park
The salty and shallow lake at the park is a haven for those who enjoy fishing. Anglers from all over the state come to the park to catch saugeye, catfish, sand bass and hybrid striper.
Fishing can take place on the banks of the lake via ADA accessible fishing platforms, or in a vessel like a canoe or kayak. Which you can launch off one of the boat ramps that are dotted around the lake.
As with all state parks in the Sooner State, you will need to secure an Oklahoma fishing license before you can cast a line.
Hiking at Salt Plains State Park
If you are into hiking, the Great Salt Plains State Park boasts a hiking system that is made up of a brace of trails on the northern side of the lake.
The first runs for little more than a quarter of a mile and is known as the Tonkawa Interpretive Trail. It is situated close to the River Road and provides a fairly straightforward paved trail to explore. For those with disabilities it is fully accessible too.
The second path stretches for over seven-miles. It is called the George Sibley Trail and is generally tackled by more advanced hikers.
Biking and Horseback Riding at Salt Plains State Park
As well as being open for hikers, you will also find the fabulous seven-mile George Sibley Trail is perfect for biking and horses.
An intermediate to advanced level trail, it will take you on a seven mile exploration of rocky and sandy paths, which will guide you through the woods. You will also go around huge rock fields, as well as up and down some pretty challenging switchbacks.
The cliff has some steep edges, so you will need to exercise caution, but the views you will see on your bike or horse are simply breathtaking.
For those with bikes, if you would rather try something a little more gentle, there are several unmarked trails and farm roads you may want to ride on instead.
Digging for Crystals at Salt Plains State Park
Like the idea of doing something no one else in the world outside of Oklahoma can do?
Then consider digging for hourglass-shaped selenite crystals. You’ll need to head to the salt plains which are situated to the southwest of the lake at the Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge, to do that. But you can occasionally find crystals that measure as much as seven inches in length!
Be sure to wear a hat and sunscreen, as it does get hot out there.
Picnicking at Salt Plains State Park
Given the beauty of the lake and the stunning surroundings of the park, it is no wonder picnicking is such a popular pastime here.
You will find plenty of picnic areas around the lake, as well as five picnic pavilions which operate on a first come first serve basis. Ideally suited to large groups, they are equipped with grills in most of the picnic areas for guest’s convenience.
Birding at Salt Plains State Park
If you are a fan of birdwatching you are going to want to bring your binoculars because the park is home to over 300 different species. Many of which are very rare.
For many migratory birds, like ducks, cranes, geese and shorebirds, the lake is an important stopover site. So it is definitely worth spending a bit of time there.
Pets at Salt Plains State Park
Pets are welcome at the park as long as they are supervised and restrained at all times.
Some restrictions may apply, so if you want further clarification it is worth calling the park’s main office.
Camping at Salt Plains State Park
If you are looking for accommodation, the park offers two main campgrounds – the Sandy Beach Campground, and the River Road Campground.
Between them they offer 63 large pet-friendly campsites that are open all year round. All of which are perfect for those visiting the park with RVs that are between 30 to 50 feet in length.
Each site has 30-amp to 50-amp electrical and water hookups. They also come with a picnic table as well as a campfire ring that has a grill.
As its name suggests, most of the sites at the Sandy Beach campground are located by the beach. The ones at the River Road Campground are situated near the water, and do offer plenty of shade. Some even have lantern hooks.
Both sites have comfort stations that feature modern restrooms and warm showers. There are also dump stations too, as well as a children’s playground.
Salt Plains State Park
23280 S Spillway Dr
Jet, OK 73749
Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Salt Plains State Park: