We had been planning our Spring Break camping trip to Palo Duro Canyon State Park with our dear friends for months. The sites were reserved, the bags were packed, when suddenly it occurred to our friends to call the park and make sure there wasn't a burn ban. We were all surprised and sad to learn that there was indeed a burn ban! All the meals we had packed to cook over campfires, the firewood we were counting on to keep us warm at night, all of it was useless and we were bummed! So we found ourselves at 8 PM the night before we planned to leave scrambling to make new plans because we were determined to have a campfire!
Guess what. It's almost impossible to find camping spots the night before a Spring Break trip. Many parks had been full for weeks. We found an open spot here or there but at lousy locations that didn't really interest us. Then, our friends suggested Broken Bow, OK and I got on the phone to figure out the Oklahoma State Park system. Here's what I can tell you about their system: it's crazy. They don't accept reservations at all, there's no check in or out times, and everything is kind of a free-for-all. But the good news was, they had about 25 tent spots still open when I called to ask them about availability the evening before our trip. The bad news was: it was raining and would continue to rain until the second day of our trip.
We then started frantically looking for a cabin to book for the first night of our trip (so we wouldn't have to set up in the rain) hoping to stay dry the first night then move into the state park to tent camp for the remainder of the trip. I looked up a million web sites and all the cabins near the park were either booked or too small for our party of 11.
But by some small miracle, I found one cabin that was available for just the one night we needed that was cheap, lovely, and slept 10. We booked it. We left the next morning and drove in non-stop rain to our lovely cabin where we spent a fun evening safe and warm as the rain finally stopped. The next morning, we drove into the park (3 miles away) and found the perfect campsite right next to the river.
Well, it was almost perfect. The picture shows how we had to hike down a steep hill from the parking area to our campsite. That made unloading and packing up a bit rough, but it was worth it because the spot by the river was secluded and peaceful.
We could hear a steady babbling from the river, and we enjoyed watching kayaks and canoes pass by. The temperatures were perfect and there were lots of fun activities to do in the park.
The river was a nice spot for quiet reflection, but it was also the site of a lot of rambunctious play as our 7 kids threw in rocks, splashed around, and played themselves into exhaustion. I've got lots more to share about our trip, but for now I'll sign off with this cute group photo we took the last day.