42 in 52: Tenkiller State Park

June 05, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Sunset, Tenkiller State Park. If you haven't had a chance to check out Part 1 of my Cherokee County State Park Tour, take a look here: Cherokee Landing State Park. Cherokee Landing is a small State Park, but has a lot to offer. Once you check out Cherokee Landing, head South on HWY 82/100 toward Tenkiller State Park near Vian, OK.

Tenkiller State Park is located on the South end of Lake Tenkiller, near the dam. The park is near the designated SCUBA area, trout stream on the Lower Illinois River, and many other recreational areas on the lake.  Entrance, Tenkiller State Park When entering the park, you will notice the Entrance Sign claiming "Heaven in the Hills". This is an accurate description of what you will likely experience at Tenkiller State Park. The park offers cabins, RV sites with hookups, tent sites with electricity, and primitive tent sites all nested on a set of rolling hills over looking the beautiful valley containing the lake. Like most State Parks in this area, Tenkiller has been victim to much storm and flooding destruction over the past year. Several excellent and gorgeous campgrounds are closed simply due to the large amount of work let to do to clean them up. Piles of drift wood still abound in the remote sections of the park.

Nikki, the camping dog, liked our campsite (despite what that face might suggest). We selected a tent site in the campsite in the northernmost campground that was open in the park, Hickory Flats. This campground was mostly full, but the sites were far enough away that we hardly noticed our neighbors. We threw some vegetables and chicken into a couple of aluminum foil packets and fired up the camp stove. While we waited on dinner, the views of Lake Tenkiller did not disappoint.

Sunset, Lake Tenkiller. After dinner, we were greeted by a Park Ranger collecting camping fees. He was a colorful fellow to say the least. He educated us on several cool facts about the park and Oklahoma Parks in general. He reassured us that we would be safe in our campground because he just got a new taser. I felt comfortable in his abilities. We slept comfortably and quietly and were awoken to a light fog covering the water and the sounds of boats speeding by in the distance.

Breakfast in camp. We enjoyed a warm breakfast of egg, avocado, and bacon breakfast tacos with a tasty cup of french press coffee. It was delicious and much needed as we were going to burn some calories later in the day. We explored around the Shady Grove Campground, currently closed, and found several really cool campsites for a return trip to Tenkiller. We packed up and drove a couple of miles down the road to the Trout Stream below the dam.

Lower Illinois River Trout Stream Due to the large amount of rain that has hit this area lately, water had just been released the night before we arrived at the stream. Normally, the water here is extremely clear, cold, and moving quite fast. This area is great for trout fishing and very relaxing early in the morning, before most have arrived. Check fishing regulations and handling guidelines for trout before fishing this area.

If camping isn't your thing, but you still want to see this beautiful area of Northeast Oklahoma check out Fin & Feather Resort. My family has been staying at the 'Fin for what seems like the greater half of a century and have enjoyed going back every summer. The resort offers cabins in all sizes with the ability to facilitate large families or groups for the day or for a week. The complex offers a pool, tennis court, arcade, a couple of eateries, a fishing pond, and quick access to the lake and river. I highly recommend Fin & Feather, but book your room early, we reserve our spots the morning that the office begins taking reservations each season. 

If you are interested in exploring this section of Northeast Oklahoma and Lake Tenkiller, then the state park is a great spot to base camp from. There are far too many activities in the area to list. On the way to our next destination, Sequoyah State Park, we might have even found some cliffs to deep-water free-solo climb and potentially "fall" off of, feel free to e-mail me for details.

As always, thank you for reading my posts and for checking me out on Instagram @elsemanzach. Feel free to comment below and I am always game for suggestions of new places to explorer.


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