I am a blogger from Southern Oklahoma who loves to write about nature and animals.
Oklahoma's Largest State Park
If you are looking for a fun yet relaxing vacation spot, Lake Murray State Park is a wonderful place to go. My husband and I decided it was time for us to get away for a few days, take the RV and escape from the daily routine for a while. We love to go camping and Lake Murray State Park is just about 20 minutes away from our place.
It is located just two hours north of Dallas, Texas, and two hours south of Oklahoma City on Interstate 35. Lake Murray State Park is Oklahoma’s first and largest state park, with 12,500 acres located on the beautiful tree-lined shores of Lake Murray. Lake Murray is a spring-fed 5,700-acre lake and one of the clearest lakes in Oklahoma. We would go camping here often when our kids were little.
There are lots of activities for everyone, including fishing, boating, horseback riding, swimming, hiking trails, ATV trails, miniature golf, paddle boating and more! There is an 18-hole, par 72 golf course with a pro shop and tennis courts. You can rent jet skis, canoes, pontoon boats and more!
If you don’t have an RV, you can stay at the lodge, which has meeting rooms, the Apple Bin restaurant and the Parlor Lounge. The lobby even has a cozy fireplace for cooler weather. Just out the backdoor of the lodge is a beautiful view of the lake and a boat dock you can pull your boat right up to and just make the short walk back to the lodge.
You can also rent a cozy cabin in the woods, where you are surrounded by trees and nature, or even rent your cabin floating on the water.
Rest and Relaxation
Now that our kids are grown, we wanted a little rest and relaxation. Lake Murray is the perfect place for that as well. So we loaded up the RV with a few things, hooked up the boat and drove to our favorite camping spot called Elephant Rock. It gets its name from a large rock formation that rises up above the water.
There are many great camping spots, but Elephant Rock is our favorite because you can camp within feet of the water. It also has a great beach where you can pull your boat up right behind where you are camping. There is a large area marked off on the beach for kids to play and swim in. You can lay out in a beach chair or float on the water on your favorite air mattress enjoying the sun.
There are a total of nine RV campgrounds with a total of 323 RV hook-ups. (Some are full hook-ups, which include sewer.) There are over 500 tent camping site available too. There are showers, restrooms and play grounds for the kids.
Most of the RV sites and pull-throughs are open 24 hours a day. Elephant Rock, Cedar Cove and Tipps Point are gated campgrounds and if you are not camping, there is a small day use fee. Other campgrounds include Duke’s Forest, Martin’s Landing, Rock Tower, Marietta Landing and Buzzard’s Roost.
I Start My Morning With a Little Fishing
One of my favorite things to do is to take my morning coffee and walk down to our pontoon boat, which is pulled up on the beach right behind our RV. I’ll sit in the boat, drink my coffee and fish while watching the sun come up. I fish for catfish and use this really smelly “stink bait,” so I don’t get many visitors while I am fishing. I have caught many a catfish from here.
Once I got a visit from a little water snake who decided he wanted to try to get inside my minnow bucket. Luckily, he realized the boat was occupied and went on his way. This picture is my early morning view off the back of our boat. The rocky shore to my right was beautiful with the green trees and fog still lingering just above the water. What a perfect way to start the day!
Enjoying the Canada Geese
As the sun is coming up, the geese start to fly in. I love to watch and listen to them; they just have a “wild” sound as they fly in, honking to announce their arrival. There are many Canada Geese that stay at Lake Murray all year round.
In springtime, many of the geese have had their little goslings. They will swim by the boat as if they are proud parents parading their little offspring around as if to show them off. The geese with their babies will not let you approach them, but if they don’t have babies with them, they will come rather close to you, hoping for pieces of bread.
Lake Murray has developed many trails where you can either walk or ride a bicycle through the various camping spots. There is always a lot of nature to see through these trails. Johnny and I have spotted deer before, and there are always lots of birds to watch. Various wildflowers along the trails are often seen being visited by butterflies and bees.
If you enjoy taking nature pictures, be sure to take your camera with you!
After a walk through the trails, we need to cool off. So we load up on the pontoon boat and go for a boat ride. We like to putt around the edges of the lake and watch the wildlife. There is always plenty of wildlife to be found.
Here is a great white egret wading in the warmer shallow water looking for small fish or frogs for lunch. The great white egret is actually a heron with all-white plumage. Great white egrets are distinguished from other white egrets not only by their larger size but also by their yellow bill and black legs.
Great Blue Heron
A little farther along the shoreline, we spotted a great blue herron. They are also common at Lake Murray and this guy was just walking along the beach looking for something to snack on.
The great blue heron is the largest of the North American herons and is distinguished from other blue herons by slaty flight feathers, red-brown thighs, and a paired red-brown and black stripe up the flanks. The neck is rusty-gray, with black and white streaking down the front while the head is paler, with a nearly white face and a pair of black plumes running from just above the eye to the back of the head.
One of my favorite places to see is Tucker’s Tower. Tucker’s Tower Nature Center is a great place to visit with its many interesting and educational displays and exhibits. It also has a history as colorful as the view from the top of the tower. It is said that under the water, beneath the tower, there lies a cave once inhabited by an early culture. Some say outlaws used the cave during the early settlement of the area!
Inside Tucker’s Tower is Lake Murray's meteorite. It is the largest of its kind ever found and the fifth largest in the world. It was cut in half at the Institute of Meteorites in New Mexico for a rare look inside the 90 million-year-old object.
Other displays include the reconstructed skull and fossilized bones of a mastodon found along the Washita River about 35 miles away. There's a mind-boggling animal skull collection and educational exhibits of fossils, Lake Murray history, insects, fish and wildlife, legends and rock specimens. It is commonly believed the tower was originally planned as the summer retreat for then-Gov. William H. "Alfalfa Bill" Murray, in return for his efforts to get the lake and state park situated in southern Oklahoma. The lake also was named after Gov. Murray.
Grilling Dinner Outside
Now back to the RV for a little dinner where all of the camping areas have their own picnic tables and barbeque pits. We can cook out on the barbeque at our campsite and eat outside under the trees with a fantastic view of the lake.
There were some mockingbirds with a nest nearby and I’m not sure if it was the mom or the dad, but one of them kept dive bombing our dog, Meisha. Meisha is a Siberian Husky and loves being at the lake with us. Every time Meisa tried to walk near the picnic table, this bird would dive down and try to peck her on the head! I tried so hard to get a picture of it, but the bird was just too fast for me. Here he is, sitting on a rope, just waiting for Meisha to come back around. It really didn’t seem to bother Meisha too much and I have to admit we really enjoyed watching the show!
Lake Murray is well known as a great place to go fishing. You can fish for black bass, sand bass, pike, crappie and catfish—just to name a few! There is a fishing tournament once a week during the summer at the lake, and we really enjoy watching all the bass boats rushing out to their favorite fishing spots.
As I mentioned earlier, I like to catfish early in the morning off the back of the boat. I have caught some really nice sized catfish right there. Many people like to catch catfish at Lake Murray by “noodling,” which is catching catfish by sticking your hand in holes under the water. There is absolutely NO WAY I am sticking my hand in a hole underwater when I don’t know what is in there!
We like to go fishing for sand bass a couple of hours before the sun goes down. We have a favorite place where we will drop anchor and fish with minnows until dark.
When we are not catching fish, we watch the geese fly back in for the night. After it gets dark, we will slowly cruise back to our campsite under the light of the moon. It's so beautiful!
A Great Place to Relax
If you are looking for a great place to take the kids for some fun on the water or just a place to get away and relax, Lake Murray State Park is a wonderful place for both. I hope if you are ever traveling near southern Oklahoma, you take a little extra time to come visit beautiful Lake Murray State Park. I’m sure you will be very glad you did!