Lake Thunderbird State Park is located in the heart of Oklahoma. Just miles from Norman and the University of Oklahoma campus, this park is open 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Although some sites are closed down on a rotating basis to winterize before harsh weather, the park has many facilities for travelers at any time of year.
Unlike some parks, Lake Thunderbird welcomes recreational vehicles. There are hundreds of parking sites with electrical and water hookups. Sanitation dump stations are easy to find and easy to use. Stores within the park allow for campers to replenish groceries or fuel. For those who cannot live without their modern communication, one can even sign on to use the facility wi-fi connection.
There are other options for those without recreational vehicles but who are not quite ready to rough it. Lake Thunderbird State Park complies with the Americans with Disabilities act by making many cabins and lake huts disability accessible. They are also close to comfort stations that provide running water and showers. Finally, for those summer-time visitors who are tired of their own cooking, the Clear Bay Café serves menu service in public or private dining rooms that overlook the lake.
Primitive sites allow those with tents and propane stoves to experience a more rustic adventure. These sites often have picnic tables and grills available. Due to the changeable nature of Oklahoma weather, open fires are not encouraged. Check for “red flag” warnings before beginning a trip and bring along a camp stove as a back up cooking option. The sites are well kept, still within walking distance of comfort stations and allow one to experience what Oklahoma may have been like back when it was still the Wild West.
Once one has decided where to lay one’s head, it is time to look at the rest Lake Thunderbird State Park has to offer. There is a preserved Indian homestead complete with chicken coop and corn cellar. Look down and see a piece of Oklahoma’s state rock, the Sand Barite Rose. Take one of several trails designed to allow visitors a chance to see local wildlife up close and personal.
Clear Bay has a multi use trail open to everyone. Hikers and mountain bikers have their own four-mile course. Nature comes close by a half mile trail made to accommodate those with mobility disabilities. Those who wish to know more about the flora, fauna and history of the area can choose between a guided nature walk with a trained park ranger or an interpretive trail for those who wish to strike out on their own.
Oklahoma is a state that has laws governing wildlife hunting. With a license, deer archery and water fowl hunting is allowed in Lake Thunderbird State Park during appropriate seasons. An in-park archery range helps those out of practice get used to their bows, and can teach those who have never drawn a string how to time a shot.
To experience a western-flavored adventure, talk to the people at the Thunderbird Riding Stables. They hire out their horses for hour-long rides, have a tractor and hay wagon for large groups to experience a hay ride and will board one’s own horse if it made the trip. During October, the stables open up “Black Hole” which is a haunted grave yard designed to frighten the most stout-hearted visitor.
Lake Thunderbird State Park has several accommodations especially for children. The park rangers at the nature center hold several educational activities designed to keep youngsters entertained. These can be stories and sing-along times or nature hikes. Along with these park-supervised activities, parents can choose to rent canoes, inner tubes or paddle boats from one of two marinas, go boating from one of nine ramps or enjoy the water at the designated swimming beach.
In the heartland of America is a park that has something for everyone. Boaters, hikers, bikers, hunters, fishermen and equestrians can all find safe opportunities to enjoy their chosen hobbies. Campers can choose between modern convenience or primitive sites. Children and adults can learn of the past while experiencing nature’s present. Lake Thunderbird State Park in central Oklahoma brings the wild west to modern day.