I saw this write-up online about Black Mesa, in the far northwest part of the Oklahoma Panhandle. The information is from the Nature Conservancy, which has done a lot of work to preserve America’s wild places. Check this out, and if you have the time and are in the mood, see this incredibly cool place while also standing atop Oklahoma’s highest point.
From The Nature Conservancy
Located in Cimarron County, the Black Mesa Nature Preserve consists of approximately 1,600 acres. In 1991, the Conservancy conveyed its property to the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department with restrictions regarding development and other use. The preserve protects about 60 percent of the mesa top in Oklahoma in addition to talus slopes and plains habitat. A native granite monument marks the highest point in Oklahoma — 4,973 feet above sea level.
The Black Mesa area supports 31 state rare species (23 plants and eight animals) and four community types. Here, the Rocky Mountains meet the shortgrass prairie and it is unique in that it represents an area where many species are at the easternmost or westernmost portions of their range.
Vegetation on the top of the nearly flat mesa comprises a Bluestem-grama shortgrass community. The mesa’s talus slopes support a one-seed juniper/shrub oak community, while similar slopes of neighboring smaller buttes support a one-seed juniper/pinyon woodland community. The plains below the mesa support a shortgrass prairie.
Black Mesa is a birder’s paradise any time of the year. Golden eagles, scaled quail, black-billed magpies and pinyon jays are just a few of the birds that may be observed. Black bear, bobcat, mountain lion, mule deer, bighorn sheep and antelope are some of the mammals that may be seen in the mesa region.
The preserve is open dawn to dusk only. Allow at least four hours to walk from the parking area to the top of the mesa and back. No restrooms are located on the preserve and camping is not allowed, but both are available at Black Mesa State Park, about 15 miles away. For more information, call 1-800-654-8240 or go to the Oklahoma State Parks Web site.
Directions: Follow State Highway 325 west 35 miles, toward Kenton, to a blacktop road marked “Colorado” and turn north (right). Drive five miles to the preserve parking area on the west side of the road.