Known for its tumbleweeds, tornadoes, and of course, the Tiger King himself, the Sooner State might not be on many camper’s bucket lists
. What most people don’t know about Oklahoma is that it’s an incredibly diverse state with arid high plains in the panhandle, bison-inhabited prairie in the center, and lush forests in its southwest corner. Whatever kind of terrain you’re looking for, you can probably find it in Oklahoma.
As an under-the-radar destination, Oklahoma is also one of the cheaper places
to vacation. Attractions and restaurants are considerably less expensive, and when you’re boondocking
in Oklahoma, there are no camping fees either. Keep reading to learn about the Sooner State’s finest free campsites.
Can I Go Boondocking in Oklahoma?
Public land owned by the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), or the state park system are the go-to spots for boondockers. These free sites
help you save money on campground and hotel fees
and are often situated in more scenic regions. Oklahoma, unfortunately, doesn’t have as much of this land as many other states. Less than 2% of the state is owned by the federal government compared to nearly 67% in nearby Utah. However, you can find a few pieces of public land if you try!
Oklahoma has minimal regulations when it comes to boondocking. Most national forests will limit you to 14 days, but that’s about it. When it comes to urban camping, they’re pretty lenient too. Most municipalities in Oklahoma aren’t too strict about parking RVs in private lots overnight, so it isn’t too hard to go boondocking in Oklahoma if you don’t mind camping in the city. You can also catch some sleep at rest areas along the highway, which have no time limits or restrictions on who can camp there.
Top Locations for Boondocking in Oklahoma
Oklahoma doesn’t have much in the way of national forests, but it does have a patchwork of national grasslands, national wildlife refuges, and a few dozen state parks. The majority are located in the hilly eastern third of the state, but a few grassland campgrounds and reservoirs can be found in the western panhandle and in the central part of the state.
Rita Blanca National Grasslands
Most of the Rita Blanca National Grasslands are in Texas, but a sliver of it extends across the border into the Oklahoma Panhandle near the town of Felt. Until the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, the area was extensively farmed, but the federal government purchased 93,000 acres of it and allowed it to return to its natural state as shortgrass prairie, preventing another agricultural catastrophe. The nearly 100,000 acres is not contiguous though and is interspersed with private land. It’s important that campers only camp in areas that are clearly marked as part of the national grasslands. The rangeland is largely flat and treeless, so be sure to bring your own shade.
The vast majority of the grasslands are completely undeveloped, providing plenty of boondocking opportunities, but with no amenities to speak of. The one developed section within the Oklahoma portion is the Felt Picnic Area, which has a vault toilet, picnic tables, fire rings, and grills.
More Information: Rita Blanca National Grasslands
Black Kettle National Grasslands
The majority of Black Kettle is located two hours due east of Oklahoma City, near the town of Cheyenne. Similar to Rita Blanca, the grasslands are not one contiguous area, but a patchwork of federal land mixed with private land spread across Oklahoma and Texas. Camp only in areas you are sure are part of the grasslands.
There are two developed campgrounds within the Oklahoma section of the grasslands: Spring Creek Lake and Skipout Lake.
Skipout Lake Recreation Area offers vault toilets, a picnic area, and potable water. There’s also a boat ramp for accessing the reservoir.
More Information: Black Kettle National Grasslands
Spring Creek Dispersed Camping
Also managed as part of the Black Kettle National Grasslands, Spring Creek has a couple of camping options depending on your preferences. There is a dispersed camping area
that sits on the eastern edge of the lake that offers no amenities and a more developed campground on the western shore.
The developed campground has vault toilets, a picnic area, and potable water along with a boat ramp. The dispersed camping area on the eastern shore has little more than a few cleared areas to park. If you’re prepared for self-sufficiency, these sites are considerably quieter.
More Information: Spring Creek Dispersed Camping
Lake Vincent Public Fishing Area
This off-the-beaten-path campsite is about two and a half hours west of Oklahoma City and a similar distance east of Amarillo, TX. The area doesn’t get too much traffic as there’s very little development along the lakeshore. Outside of peak fishing season in the summer, you probably won’t see many other campers. In July and August though, the anglers come out in droves as Redear Sunfish, Largemouth Bass, and Channel Catfish are all abundant in the lake.
There’s not too much development at Lake Vincent save for a boat ramp and a small picnic area. Most of the lake’s visitors come for a day of fishing and then head home, but dispersed camping is permitted near the boat ramp. There are a few outhouses, but they’re not very well-maintained. More than likely, you’ll be using the toilet in the RV.
Dispersed camping. There are no developed campsites, but it can be busy in the summer when the boat ramp gets crowded with anglers.
More Information: Lake Vincent Public Fishing Area
Atoka Lake Dispersed Camping
For fun on the water in southeastern Oklahoma, it doesn’t get much better than Atoka Lake. It's about two hours and fifteen minutes from Oklahoma City. The nearly 6,000-acre lake has close to sixty miles of shoreline that are ideal for fishing, swimming, paddling, and of course camping. The lake’s dispersed camping area is located on the southeast side of the lake, just off Highway 69.
Come prepared for dry camping as there’s not many amenities here. A boat ramp will get you into the water and there’s a picnic area onshore. Arrive with your black water tank empty and your freshwater full to get the most out of your Atoka Lake experience.
Dispersed camping. There are no designated campsites, but there’s space for several RVs on the approach road to the boat ramp.
More Information: Atoka Lake Dispersed Camping
Dive into the Natural Wonders of Oklahoma with Cruise America
Oklahoma is beautiful, remote, and most importantly, thoroughly uncrowded even during the height of tourist season. Boondocking in Oklahoma is all about getting away from it all, enjoying the company of family and friends and not one hundred of your nearest neighbors at a packed campground.
rents top-of-the-line vehicles that provide modern amenities and the comforts of home. Even though you’re boondocking, you should remain comfortable while camping. With a Cruise America RV you will be comfortable anywhere you park and ready for a great experience!
Are you ready to embark on an unconventional adventure? Check out Cruise America’s Oklahoma RV rentals
and start your journey today!