Wandering through Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge

Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge

Located in southwest Oklahoma near Lawton and Cache, Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge is one of more than 556 refuges throughout the U.S. managed but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. A remnant mixed grass prairie, this 59,000-acre refuge is home to Texas longhorn cattle, American bison, white-tailed deer, Rocky Mountain elk, prairie dogs, and many more species. More than 806 plant, 50 mammal, 36 fish, 240 bird, and 64 reptile and amphibian species thrive here.

Rates and Hours

Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge has free admission and parking. It is open daily from dawn to dusk, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m., every day of the week. The front desk hours are Mon. – Fri, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. The visitor center is open during all holidays in the spring, summer, and fall, but is not open Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or New Year’s Day.

The only thing that visitors will have to pay for is camping, if they choose. There are two places that they can go: Doris Campground and Charons Garden Wilderness Area. Doris Campground offers 47 tent sites, 23 RV sites with electric hookups, and 20 sites located a short distance away along a trail.  The rates are as follows:

–       Sites with electricity: $20

–       Primitive sites (no electricity or water): $10

–       Park and walk to primitive sites: $8

Charons Garden Wilderness Area is available by advance reservation only. It is a backcountry camping site so the permit costs $2 per person. However, this is subject to change so be sure to check the price when you call ahead.

Discover the Refuge

The refuge’s amenities include a visitor center, gift shop, picnic area, restrooms, and campsites and pets are allowed as well. The Quanah Parker Nature and Visitor Center has interactive and changing displays, films, videos, and artwork as well as exhibits on habitats and wildlife of the Wichita Mountains for visitors to look at before they explore the refuge. Guests can schedule wildlife and nature tours that depart from the center on foot, bus, or a combination of both. These are only offered periodically throughout the year though, so be sure to check ahead of time.

The refuge offers a wide range of activities and opportunities such as hiking, mountain biking, fishing, watchable wildlife, rock climbing/rappelling, camping, hunting, and other special events. The gorgeous scenery and wildlife will make for stunning photographs for those who love to capture memories on their camera. The top of Mount Scott, which stands 2,464 feet above sea level, is a great place to watch the sunset. Another beautiful feature at Wichita Mountains is the Forty-Foot Hole near Lost Lake. Cache Creek flows through this pretty gorge and into stunning waterfalls over rocky formations. During the summer months, this is a great spot for hiking.

The Holy City of the Wichitas, the Parallel Forest, and Quanah Parker Lake are attractions that visitors have to stop at while on the refuge. The Parallel Forest stretches for miles in every direction with large cedars planted exactly six feet apart. Originally planted in the early 1900s, the Parallel Forest is located just over a mile north of the intersection of Meers Road and Cache Meers Road with a small parking lot near the edge of the forest. For more information about the refuge, permits, special events, or to look at a map, go to Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge’s website. Happy travels!

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