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Optimize Your Stay at Oklahoma's Lake Murray State Park

Optimize Your Stay at Oklahoma's Lake Murray State Park


avatar   Stacy
Trip Date 07/19/2020
Posted On 08/29/2020 09:25:00

Camping | Oklahoma | Ardmore | Oklahoma State Parks | Lake Murray | Civilian Conservation Corps | Works Progress Administration | Water Sports | Hiking | Outdoor Fun | Family Vacation



After a week long stay in Louisiana, our northbound trek from Texas toward South Dakota was officially underway. Our next stop was in Ardmore, Oklahoma where we spent three nights at Lake Murray State Park. Located less than five miles east of Interstate 35, the park's location is ideal for travelers on a north or southbound cross-country road trip.

If outdoor fun sounds appealing, Lake Murray State Park is known for being a great place for camping and hiking as well as a variety of land and water sports. No tent or RV? There's more traditional accommodations within the park as well.

Whether you'll be traveling on your own, with friends, as a couple, on a family vacation or even with a bigger group, there's plenty of variety for everyone to fill their time. As the oldest park in the Oklahoma State Parks system, there's even some historical structures built by the Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration ready to be explored. Check out this article to see more of we learned about Lake Murray State Park during our stay.

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Where the Heck is Lake Murray State Park?

Lake Murray State Park occupies over 12,000 acres just north of the Texas border in south-central Oklahoma. The state park is almost equidistant between the big cities of Dallas, Texas and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The park's main entrance is located on Scenic Highway 77, just three miles east of IH-35.


One of Many Lake Murray State Park Entrances

One of Many Lake Murray State Park Entrances

Camping Options at Lake Murray State Park?

Of the nine standard campgrounds at Lake Murray State Park, four of them are on the north end of the lake. Online reservations and site selection are available for all campgrounds within the park. A two night minimum is required for stays including a weekend night and three nights are required during peak season holiday weekends. One night stays are available during the remainder of the year. Payment in full is due at the time that reservations are made.

Our original plan was to spend two nights at the state park. Just under a month before our planned arrival, we added one additional night prior to our two night reservation. As there were no spaces with three consecutive days of availability, we had the opportunity to stay in two of the park's campgrounds on the northern side of the lake.

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Cedar Cove Campground

The first of our three nights was at Site 24 in Cedar Cove Campground. Parking at site 24 is back-in on a level paved pad. On-site utilities include water and both 30- and 50-amp electric. The site is surrounded by shade trees, some of which will accommodate hammocks.


Back-in Site 24 at Cedar Cove Campground

Back-in Site 24 at Cedar Cove Campground

The campsite was clean upon our arrival. Amenities at the site include an uncovered concrete picnic table, grill, fire pit with grate and a lantern hook.


Site CC024 at Lake Murray State Park

Site CC024 at Lake Murray State Park

We had good phone and data service on Verizon, however our service on T-Mobile was sporadic and unreliable. Broadcast television stations within the campground were also very limited.

The campground has dumpsters for household trash as well as a dump station. Although bathhouses in the campground are dated, sinks, toilets and showers all appeared to be in working order during our stay.

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Elephant Rock Campground

Our final two nights were spent at Site 19 in Elephant Rock Campground. This campground fills up early evidenced by our reservation for the last available site just under 8 weeks before our stay. As a full hook-up site, utilities include 30- and 50-amp electric, water and sewer. The site offers pull-through parking on a level, paved pad.


Pull-through Site ER019 at Lake Murray State Park

Pull-through Site ER019 at Lake Murray State Park

Upon our arrival, the campsite was clean. On-site amenities include a concrete picnic table (uncovered), both a grill and a grated fire pit as well as a lantern hook. A tall sycamore tree provides some afternoon shade.


Site 19 at Elephant Rock Campground

Site 19 at Elephant Rock Campground

Similar to our experience in the neighboring Cedar Cove Campground, we did have good phone and data service on Verizon and broadcast television stations were very limited. Our phone and data service through T-Mobile, however, was virtually non-existent.

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Although dated, the bathhouses nearest Site 19 have toilets and sinks on one side of the building and a single room with a shower and toilet that "no longer requires quarters" on the opposite side. There's also a small utility room with two washers and two dryers each priced at $1.00 per load.


Laundry Room in Elephant Rock Campground

Laundry Room in Elephant Rock Campground

Our Pick of the Best Campsites at Lake Murray State Park

With over 300 RV sites spread across two sides of Lake Murray, we didn't have the time to search all 9 campgrounds for our favorite sites. We did, however, search for the sites that we would hope to reserve on a return visit in three of the campgrounds:

Cedar Cove Campground

Our favorite sites in the Cedar Cove Campground are those that back up to the lake:
  • With a number of surrounding trees, Site 11 tops our list as it is well shaded and more secluded than most other sites.
  • We would be happy with waterfront Sites 3, 9, 10, 13, 15, 17, 18, 19 or 22.


View from Site 13 in Cedar Cove Campground

View from Site 13 in Cedar Cove Campground

(Although they both back up to the water, Sites 5 and 7 are too short for larger rigs. Additionally, while Site 5 does have a nice view, the area surrounding the parking pad does not have grass so it would be quite muddy during or following a rainstorm.)

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Elephant Rock Campground

In the Elephant Rock Campground, again, our favorite campsites are those that have lake access:
  • For shorter stays, back-in Sites 57 and 58 would be our first choice as they both have afternoon shade, 50-amp electric and on-site water, but no sewer;
  • Although they don't have afternoon shade, back-in Sites 51 - 54 would be next on our list for shorter stays (50-amp electric and on-site water only);
  • Pull-through Site 68 with 30- and 50-amp electric and water is one of the most private sites in the campground, however it also has limited shade;
  • Also without many shade trees, back-in Sites 62 and 64 do have 30- and 50-amp electric, on-site water and sewer. Because of the on-site utilities, they would be our first choice for longer stays. (Site 64 does have a few shade trees that could partially shade the RV entry area).

Buzzards Roost Campground

Sites 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22 in the RV Loop of Buzzards Roost Campground have full hook-ups, appear level and seem large enough to accommodate our 33' long RV. With water views, these five sites would round out the top of our list for a return visit.

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Additional Accommodation Options within Lake Murray State Park

The largest state park in Oklahoma has plenty of options for those not interested in sleeping in a tent or an RV. There's historic cabins built nearly 90 years ago by the Civilian Conservation Corps as well as more modern rooms in the park's lodge. For something even more unique (and, as expected, more expensive) there's even floating hotels available for overnight stays.

Online reservations can be made for anyone hoping to stay in one of the more intimate cottages, a cabin large enough for a family or a guest room in the lodge. Guests staying in the lodge even have exclusive access to amenities including a splash pad area and an outdoor swimming pool.


Exclusive Amenities for Lake Murray Lodge Guests

Exclusive Amenities for Lake Murray Lodge Guests

Access to the Lake Murray Floating Cabins is restricted to only those with reservations. (When we are "forbidden" from going somewhere, we get creative! We found a hiking path that led us to a spot where we had a partial view of the cabins so we could at least snap a few photos.) In addition to rather uncommon sleeping quarters, floating cabin guests can even moor their personal watercraft at their doorstep!


Lake Murray's Floating Cabins

Lake Murray's Floating Cabins

There's a variety of options for those planning larger group events from family reunions to business meetings and everything in between. Of course, there's always the option of reserving a block of campsites, cottages, cabins or rooms. Those desiring a more rustic atmosphere can also opt for a group camp. Additionally, there are cabins and floating cabins large enough to accommodate bigger groups. There are even meeting rooms available in the lodge.

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Lake Murray State Park is Perfect for Outdoor Enthusiasts of Any Age

Those who enjoy spending time outdoors will love Lake Murray State Park. The 5,500+ acre lake with both boat ramps and docks draws those who enjoy swimming, boating, waterskiing, jet-skiing, canoeing, kayaking, fishing and other water sports. During our hot summer visit, the lake water was perfect for cooling off each afternoon.


Boating by Lake Murray's Elephant Rock

Boating by Lake Murray's Elephant Rock

Lake Murray Floating Boat Dock

Lake Murray Floating Boat Dock

No matter what type of trails you prefer, you can probably find them at Lake Murray State Park. With over 30 miles of trails, those who want to hike or bike have options. In addition to some easy level paved paths, there's more difficult trails, some with hills, available for hiking and biking. There's trails for trail riding and even hundreds of acres of trails for off-roading on ATVs.

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Those interested in participating in other sporting activities will find both golf and miniature golf courses as well as baseball and softball fields or tennis and volleyball courts. Younger kids will enjoy spending a part of their day on one of the many playgrounds located throughout the park.


Playground in Cedar Cove Campground

Playground in Cedar Cove Campground

Explore History at Lake Murray State Park

Oklahoma's first state park was initially established in 1933 and opened to the public in 1938. Members of the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) and the WPA (Works Progress Administration) built structures that still stand today within Lake Murray State Park. The park is included in the United States National Register of Historic Places as recognition of the historic sites.

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Although replaced in the mid-1950's, a historic water tower, pump house and well were built by the young men of the CCC. Water service to the lodge and cabins within the park originally depended upon these structures.


CCC Built Pump House

CCC Built Pump House

Lake Murray Water Tower

Lake Murray Water Tower

Both adults and children will enjoy spending some time in the Lake Murray Nature Center. Donations are accepted for the fee-free educational museum filled with interactive and historical exhibits about the park. The back deck is a nice place to watch park visitors enjoying the waters of Lake Murray.


View from the Back Deck of the Lake Murray Nature Center

View from the Back Deck of the Lake Murray Nature Center

The WPA began construction of Tucker Tower, located a short uphill climb behind the nature center, in 1933. The tower was originally intended to be a retreat home for the governor of Oklahoma. Building was halted in 1935 to focus all resources on winning World War II. The historic structure was finally completed and opened as a geological museum in 1954. The tower has served as a part of the nature center since the late 1970s.


Tucker Tower

Tucker Tower

Lake Murray State Park's Tucker Tower

Lake Murray State Park's Tucker Tower

Don't miss both floors of exhibits inside the tower which include video and other exhibits about the creation of the park. Before you leave, climb up the spiral staircase for some awesome views from the top.


Example of Equipment used to Create Lake Murray State Park

Example of Equipment used to Create Lake Murray State Park

View from Tucker Tower

View from Tucker Tower

Camping in Southern Oklahoma

If you are looking for more campgrounds in southern Oklahoma, check out our post titled Review: The Point Campground. Located a little further north than Lake Murray State Park, we enjoyed our stay at this Chickasaw National Recreation Area campground located on the shore of Lake of the Arbuckle.

Oklahoma State Parks

Which of Oklahoma's state parks are your favorites and what makes you rank them so highly?




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Optimize Your Stay at Oklahoma's Lake Murray State Park







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