About a week ago, we published some stories about caving and its risks. I ended up going to Alabaster Caverns State Park and talking to two people who work there. I’ll be sure to post some links to that story just in case you all didn’t see it.
But more importantly, I learned some interesting things about the park. So if you’re curious about the caves there and would like to check it out, maybe I can give you a couple of things to think about as you head up there.
First of all, this is one small park. There are farms in Oklahoma County that are bigger than Alabaster’s 200 acres. But what it lacks in size it makes up for in experiences to be had.
The park’s namesake and star attraction is its cave system. These gypsum caves offer a subterranean experience for just about anyone. Those wanting a casual stroll inside can go on guided tours through the main cave.
Others wanting a more adventurous experience can try “wild caving,” essentially self-guided caving through the park’s four lesser caves. Those wanting to go wild caving need to register with the park, pay a fee ($5 per person) and be in groups of at least three people. There are a number of equipment and clothing requirements to be met before anyone is allowed to go caving in the wild caves.
In talking with Tandy Keenan, the park’s naturalist, she told me that Alabaster Caverns State Park is a good place for beginners. The caves are relatively small (500 to 1,600 feet), rarely have water in them and do not require technical climbing/caving skills. People who go in them will get muddy, however, and there are some tight spaces to wriggle through. So if you’re not into confined spaces and darkness, maybe wild caving isn’t for you.
Caving can be done between April 1 and Sept. 30.
Aside from caving and cave tours, Alabaster Caverns is well known for its wildlife. Which in this case, we’re talking about bats.
Several species of bats call the caves home, and many more use the caves as a place to roost during their migrations.
The park has spaces for tent and RV camping, showers, restrooms, a playground and a volleyball court, among other amenities. Hiking trails are also available.
When I was there, the park was doing guided tours for families and a YMCA day camp. In terms of sparking kids’ imaginations, this park may be one of the better places in the state to do that.
Alabaster Caverns State Park is near Freedom in northwest Oklahoma.
Some links about the park:
And some more about wild caving:
Awhile back, I read a book about Heimo Korth and his family titled “The Final Frontiersman.” Great book about a resourceful man living in the wilderness of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Here’s a video that illustrates a taste of life for Mr. Korth.
If you like that video, watch the entire special. And definitely pick up the book. It’s one of my favorites.
I don’t normally plug stuff for retailers, but there are some upcoming activities sponsored by Backwoods stores in Oklahoma City, Norman and Tulsa that may be of interest. Here’s a rundown of what’s on tap in the coming days (information courtesy of Backwoods):
Tulsa hiking club trip
Take a hike with the Backwoods Hiking Club in Tulsa on Saturday. The group will meet at the Turkey Mountain trailhead at 9 a.m.
Hikes will be easy to moderate and anyone with a water bottle and appropriate shoes is invited to participate. Only fees involved are park and vehicle permits, where applicable.
What to bring: A daypack with at least 3 liters of water, snacks, a camera, personal first-aid items/medications, bug spray, sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses. Tennis shoes or light-hikers are appropriate for this hike, since most trails are hard-packed dirt.
For more information about the monthly hikes, contact Robert at (918) 664-7850 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to pack your backpack
In Norman, a seminar on packing correctly for the trail will be held from 6 to 7 p.m. Thursday at the Norman store.
Properly loading your backpack is an essential skill for any backcountry enthusiast. Come learn how to distribute the weight of your load correctly to ensure a comfortable fit. Bring your backpack and your gear to this free interactive presentation. No RSVP needed.
This clinic is open to both beginning and experienced backpackers. For more details, contact Pam at email@example.com or call 573-5199.
In Oklahoma City, there will be a kayak demo day from 5 to 7 p.m. next Wednesday (July 14) at Lake Hefner’s Hobie Point.
The event will be geared to people wanting to try using the Hobie Mirage kayak. For more details contact Tom at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 751-7376.
All of these sounds interesting, so check them out and have some fun outdoors.
Here’s a spooky video. It shows two bears rooting around for food, and one of them gets a little miffed at the photographer. And charges. A wildlife encounter I’d rather not have.
Here’s the video:
And here’s a link to The Adventure Life website, which posted this video and a short narrative that describes the photographer’s thoughts on being charged by an angry bear.
Wow. May your outdoor encounters be a little less stressful!