Short stop and hike in Robbers Cave State Park

Note: These pictures are from several years ago–so the park may not be this ‘wet’ when you visit, we went after the area had received a larger than usual amount of rain

As we made our way back home from the Buffalo National River in Arkansas, we decided to take a different route home and came back through southeastern Oklahoma.

Since we still had some time before the outside world (work and all those fun responsibilities) interrupted, we took a mini-detour and stopped for an hour or so within Robbers Cave State Park).

Robbers Cave State Park is a large park (over 8,000 acres with 189 acres of water [Lake Carlton, Lake Wayne Wallace and Coon Creek]) located within the Sans Bois Mountains in Latimer County, Oklahoma.

The overflowing ‘creek’ through Robbers Cave State Park

The park is located five miles north of Wilburton, Oklahoma along State Highway 2.

This area had actually once been the hideout for outlaws such as Jesse James and Belle Starr (hence the name Robbers Cave).

The park was started in the 1930s through programs that were founded by FDR’s ‘New Deal’ Program. Those two programs were the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Works Progress Administration. Buildings from the ‘early days’ of the park can still be seen today, and are part of the reason for the park being placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.

There are numerous places to stay within the park: they offer camping and RV hookups (both of which require prior online registration), in addition to there being a lodge, cabins, a lake hut, yurts, and two group camping facilities. Since we didn’t stay within the park (we drove in), I can’t comment on the status of any of the rentals that the park provides.

So on our very brief stop within the park, I basically did the ‘Robbers Cave Photo Tour’. This was a self-guided tour around some of the ‘caves’ that were probably used as hideouts by various outlaws back in the 1800s.

The basis of the ‘Robbers Cave Photo Tour’

One of the ‘caves’

I didn’t try to go into any of the ‘caves’–mainly because I didn’t have a light, and also they seem to be ‘locked’ to help protect any bats that might have been roosting there from the white nose syndrome fungus. You can also see that unfortunately some of the boulders were also ‘defaced’ by spray paint.

That is one thing that always make me sad–that people feel like they need to ‘deface’ nature to leave ‘their’ mark. The best mark left is not leaving anything behind.

Caves and boulders within the park–the backside of the ‘trail’
One of the trails within the park

As you can see–even the ‘easy’ Robbers Cave Photo Tour had some rugged trails to it.

Well I think I see stairs….

One thing I was amazed at–thinking of people scurrying around these ‘caves’ and boulders trying to hide from the marshals, and other law officials in the 1800s. I wasn’t too sure about trying to get up to the top during the daylight–not sure how I would have felt trying to scale it in the dark with no lights.

This is a park that I would like to go back and explore again at some point (possibly trying to stay in one of the yurts). I think it would be a great place to bird watch (especially at either lake) or even on a nice leisurely stroll through the woods.

Have you been to Robbers Cave State Park before?