Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge

- a natural gem of wildlife -

Sometimes the endless plains and scarce availability of hills makes us forget that Oklahoma has its own natural gems. One of these natural gems is nestled in the southern part of the state, just an hour and a half away from the state capital. This place is called the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.

Abundant with wildlife, such as bison, longhorns, prairie dogs, hawks, and the colorful mountain boomer lizards, the Wichita Mountains do not disappoint. On top of that, there are several pristine lakes for kayaking and fishing, adventurous hiking trails ranging from easy sightseeing to the more advanced, and of course the regal, granite mountains that make up its landscape.

A few weekends ago, we ventured out to the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge and pitched our tent at the Doris Campgrounds. Our campsite couldn’t be more serendipitous, as it sat right by Quanah Parker Lake.

Our first morning hike was into the backcountry of Charon's Garden Wilderness. Along the way, we stopped by to venture off the trails to Lost Lake and Post Oak Falls.

After that hike, we went over to Elk Mountain. Along the way, we saw beautiful wildlife that is abundant in the Wichita Mountains, such as bison and prairie dogs.

During our hike up Elk Mountain, we were greeted by several of the beautiful Mountain Boomer lizards.

By Quanah Parker Lake, there was an expansive dam to survey the magnificent view.

In the afternoon, we stayed at our campsite to relax. With the temperatures soaring in the triple digits, the breeze that arose from the lake and fluttered throughout our tent provided much relief from the heat.

Near sunset, we drove to Mount Scott and cherished more wildlife that came across our paths.

At golden hour, we were mesmerized by the magical sunset as we viewed it from the summit of Mount Scott.

We continued our wonderment of the scenery by gazing at the sparkling sequins in the night sky later at nightfall on the bridge crossing Quanah Parker Lake.

On our last morning, we went back to Mount Scott, unable to resist the beautiful view.

There’s nothing like getting out into the wilderness, and being away from the busyness of life. All you hear as you lay down to sleep in your tent is the crackling of charcoal fires, the symphony of insects, and the soft tread of deer passing through, with an endless amphitheater of stars right above you.

There was so much to explore and enjoy in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, that we were not able to experience them all. It certainly has captivated our hearts and we will back very soon to that wonderful, magnificent place.

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