The best camping near Black Mesa State Park

Discover the most magical spots to pitch your tent or park your rig on your next Black Mesa State Park adventure.

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The views are great from Oklahoma’s highest point.  

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The best camping near Black Mesa State Park guide



Hidden away in the Oklahoma Panhandle, just minutes from the tri-state border of Colorado, Oklahoma, and New Mexico, Black Mesa State Park and its adjoining Nature Preserve sit at the wild frontier of the Rocky Mountains and the shortgrass prairie. Big views await at the top of the Mesa, Oklahoma’s highest point (almost 5,000 feet above sea level), but hikers can also explore ancient dinosaur tracks, admire black lava formations, and spot golden eagles, black bear, and bighorn sheep. Black Mesa State Campground has RV sites with full hookups, a group camp, and tent sites, some with lake views. Campers have easy access to Lake Carl Etling, but the big draw of an overnight stay is the excellent stargazing.

Tips for snagging a campsite

  1. You can reserve one of the campsites at Black Mesa State Campground via the Travel Oklahoma website. A 3-night minimum applies for holiday weekends.
  2. Campsite reservations open eleven months in advance and can be booked up to the day before arrival.
  3. Campsites can book up fast, especially on summer and holiday weekends. Book a minimum of three months in advance to avoid disappointment. 

When to go

Black Mesa State Park is open year-round from 7am through 11pm for day visitors, and the campground stays open through winter. Summer is the most popular time to visit, and stargazers flock to the park in August to watch the annual Perseid meteor shower. Water levels at Lake Carl Etling can get extremely low in summer, so boating and fishing is best in winter and early spring.

Know before you go

  • Black Mesa State Park & Nature Preserve is located in Cimarron county, along SH-325. The closest town is Kenton where you’ll find a general store, but for gas and other supplies, you’ll need to drive to Boise City, a 30-minute drive away.
  • There are no admission fees to visit the park, but camping fees apply. 
  • Facilities within the park include a Visitor Centre, restrooms, picnic tables and grills, a playground, and boat ramps. There are showers, 30-amp electric hookups, drinking water, and a waste dump station at the campground. 
  • Boating is possible at Lake Carl Etling, but swimming is not permitted.
  • The Black Mesa area is renowned for its dark skies and stargazing opportunities, so campers are asked to keep light to a minimum at all times. 
  • Wildfire risk is high within the state park, so keep fires small and always use the fire rings provided. 

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