Black Mesa State Park: Highlights of the Oklahoma’s Unique Preserve from Wildlife Viewing to Stargazing

Black Mesa State Park: Highlights of the Oklahoma’s Unique Preserve from Wildlife Viewing to Stargazing
Black Mesa State Park - Photo by Andrew Fryhover from Flickr
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Tripboba.com - Located about 15 miles (24 km) away from the highest point in Oklahoma, near the western border of the Oklahoma panhandle and New Mexico, Black Mesa State Park is an Oklahoma state park encompassing 1,600 acres (6.5 km2). The nature preserve is open to hiking and is home to 23 rare plants and 8 rare animal species.

Black Mesa State Park Oklahoma

Adjacent to the park is Carl Etling Lake featuring a shoreline of 5 miles (8.0 km). The lakefront park offers RV, tent, and equestrian campsites, picnic facilities, boat ramps, and a mooring buoy, trout fishing in season, a playground, restrooms with showers, and a group camp with bunkhouses.

Read on our guide and learn more about Black Mesa State Park's main highlights and key facilities. Tripboba has got you covered with anything you’d like to know about this wondrous remote nature preserve.

Black Mesa State Park Weather

Black Mesa State Park - Photo by Mike Goad from Flickr

Black Mesa is not only the highest point in Oklahoma but it is also the driest, harshest, and coldest place in the state. So, never expect less of the state park and its surrounding area. Don’t worry, though, you’d still find the park pleasant when coming at the right time. You might want to visit Black Mesa State Park in Spring or Fall.

While the park is open year-round, offering many exciting outdoor activities for each season, one thing you’d never want to miss is to experience the main highlight of the park. Known for the darkest nighttime skies in Oklahoma, Black Mesa State Park is the best place to gaze at stars. Many astronomy enthusiasts flock to the area every August to get a front row seat when the annual Perseid meteor shower is visible.

Black Mesa State Park Night Skies

Black Mesa State Park - Photo by Andrew Fryhover from Flickr

In addition to being an excellent location for wildlife watching, Black Mesa State Park makes an ideal spot for stargazing. The park boasts some of the spectacular, darkest nighttime skies on publicly accessible land in the country.

The state park is especially popular each August when the annual Perseid meteor shower is visible. It is one of the most viewed meteor showers in the Northern Hemisphere and is best seen from remote areas such as the Oklahoma panhandle.

Black Mesa State Park Hike

Black Mesa State Park - Photo by Christopher Gabbard from Flickr

The nature preserve consists of approximately 1,600 acres, allowing visitors to hike and enjoy 23 rare plants and eight rare animal species. Black Mesa takes its name from the layer of black lava rock that coated the mesa about 30 million years ago.

You can hike to the top of the plateau, Oklahoma's highest point at 4,973 feet above sea level, while in the Black Mesa Nature Preserve. 

The 13.7 kilometer lightly trafficked out and back trail features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, nature trips, and bird watching and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Another trail is a 3.4 kilometer lightly trafficked out and back trail offering wildflowers and flowering cacti as well as opportunities for observing local birds and wildlife.

The trailhead is behind the State Park headquarters building and follows the canyon rim overlooking the campground and Lake Etling, as well as providing views of the surrounding prairie.

Black Mesa State Park Fishing

Black Mesa State Park Fishing

Black Mesa State Park - Photo by Van Remsen from Flickr

Bring your camper to the park with your fishing gear in tow and enjoy the excellent winter trout fishing. The trout population is supplemented seasonally from November through April. Many trophy-sized rainbows have been caught here using pink power bait worms in the past few years.

Aside from trout, expect to catch sunfish, large-mouth and small-mouth bass, and perch. Shoreline fishing and fly fishing are permitted at the park. Note that a valid fishing license is required to fish in the area.

Black Mesa State Park Camping

Black Mesa State Park - Photo by gautreaux737 from Flickr

Black Mesa State Park campground offers 29 RV sites and 25 tent sites that are totally pet-friendly. All of the RV campsites feature water and electric hookups.

There is no sewer hookup, but an RV dump station near the comfort station is available. You will also find a picnic table, fire pit, grill, and lantern holder at each campsite. Centrally located showers and restrooms are within walking distance for your convenience.

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