Where is Lake Murray State Park
Most of Oklahoma is better known for arid plains and wide-open farmland but located in the south-central part of the state is a welcome sight, Lake Murray State Park. Lake Murray State Park is aptly named for the large freshwater lake that occupies roughly half of the park’s territory. However, Lake Murray isn’t even the largest body of water in the area. Nearby Lake Texoma is one of the largest reservoirs in North America.
Lake Murray State Parks is just 27 miles from the Oklahoma/Texas border on Interstate 35 and roughly 105 miles north of Dallas, Texas. The drive from Dallas to Lake Murray US State Park is a mere hour and thirty-five minutes, while Oklahoma City is only slightly further at one hour-forty minutes driving. Being nearly equidistant from both major cities makes Lake Murray State Park a popular vacation spot for Sooners and Texans.
How Big is Lake Murray State Park
Lake Murray State Park is the largest state park in the State of Oklahoma. It covers nearly 12,500 acres, but the landmass of the state park is considerably less in size. What accounts for this discrepancy in size and land? Nearly half the park is under water!
The huge Lake Murray is located entirely within the park’s grounds, and in fact Lake Murray State Park entirely surrounds the 5,728-acre lake. Lake Murray is a man-made reservoir resulting from the damming of two large creeks, the Fourche Maline and Anadarche Creeks.
Lake Murray State Park Weather
Similar to surrounding cities, like Dallas and Oklahoma City, Lake Murray State Park is dry and sunny most of the year. On average Lake Murray State Park has 21 dry days a month, these are days with less than two millimeters or 0.78 inches of rain. Generally, visitors to Lake Murray State Park can count on sunny or partly cloudy days with very little precipitation.
Of course, very little rainfall can lead to unyielding heat during the summer months. In June, July and August, there are few better places to be in southern Oklahoma than Lake Murray. Even as the temperatures crest at 98°F during July and August, the water temperature sits around 82-85°F.
When did Lake Murray become a State Park
Not only is Lake Murray the largest state park in Oklahoma it is also the oldest.
Planning for Lake Murray back in 1929. At this time, the federal government was eyeing the location for a wildlife refuge and reservoir. However, the project didn’t gain steam until 1933 when the Governor of Oklahoma, William H. "Alfalfa Bill" Murray, hoped the dam and lake construction would put many people impacted by the Great Depression back to work.
Construction of Lake Murray would be supported by two Emergency Works Act programs under Franklin D, Roosevelt, the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps, and it would take four years to complete. Nearly 17,000 people, almost all men, would work daily on damming Fourche Maline and Anadarche Creeks and a castle-like structure, later called Tucker Tower after the governor of Oklahoma.
Lake Murray State Park would open to the public in 1938, and has since delighted visitors from Oklahoma, Texas, and much further afield. In 2001, Lake Murray State Park was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Things to do in Lake Murray State Park
While Lake Murray is the obvious attraction for visitors to Lake Murray State Park, there is so much more to do here! Surrounding the lake are public beaches, a golf course, hiking trails, and even an ATV-designated area. Below, our State Park Visitors Guide has outlined activities for everyone.
Located on the west side of Lake Murray, the Lake Murray Marina is a staple of boating and water sports in the state park. The full-service marina is the place to stock up on snacks, gas, or rent a temporary/long-term boat slip. Pontoon rentals are also available on a four or seven-hour basis during warmer months. There are recent plans to open a second marina on Lake Murray in 2021 on the southeast side of the lake.
Hikers should head to the west side of Lake Murray State Park to intercept either the Anadarche Trail or the Buckhorn Trial. These two main trails form the backbone of Lake Murray State Park’s 10 miles of hiking trails. Offshoots from either the Anadarche Trail and the Buckhorn Trial will take hikers to the water’s edge and along various coves, but there is not a trail circling the entire lake for public use.
While a popular activity in Lake Murray State Park, there are no rentals available within the park so plan to rent from nearby shops or bring your own vehicle. There is, however, plenty of parking and nearly 10 miles of off-road trails for use. Cost per rider is $10.
Golf enthusiasts are in luck at Lake Murray State Park. The park’s course is open daily, except Thanksgiving and Christmas, all year long. The 18-hole course has clubs and carts available to rent from the on-site pro shop, and you can book a tee time in advance by calling the golf club directly.
The Lake Murray Riding Stables are open to visitors from March 1 until Labor Day each year and also reopen for a short, seasonal stint in December. There are a number of options to fit your group size and interests, including daily trail rides, hayrides, and twilight rides for groups of 10 or more. The riding stables are closed on Wednesdays.
Take in the beauty of Lake Murray State Park without ever leaving your vehicle. The scenic Route 77S encircles the entire lake and most of the state park, giving visitors an opportunity to see the lake from every direction.
Lake Murray State Park has four public beaches scattered around the lake. Martins Landing Beach and Resort Lodge Beach are both located close to campgrounds and accommodation in the state park, but Sunset Beach is usually a little less crowded and allows plenty of space to spread out with ¾ mile of sand.
One of the most unexpected trip to Lake Murray State Park is a stop at Tucker Tower. The tower was originally designed to be a retreat for Oklahoma’s governors, but construction ceased on Tucker Tower in 1935 due to costs. The uncompleted tower was hardly a good choice for vacationing governors, but it has attracted thousands of visitors over the years as a geological museum and nature center.
When to go to Lake Murray State Park
Summer is definitely the best time to visit Lake Murray State Park. The park’s water activities and boating are best enjoyed when the temperatures rise, and the cooler water offers a great reprieve. Plus, there are several amenities and accommodation options that are only available between May 1 and Labor Day each year.
Yet, summer will always draw a crowd to this water respite between Oklahoma City and Dallas. Locals and visitors alike fill the cabins and campgrounds all summer long, leaving some visitors feeling overwhelmed and frustrated with the crowded beaches and trails. For this reason, hikers, bikers, golfers, and ATVers may prefer to visit during the shoulder seasons, either late spring or early autumn. Particularly in September, the weather can remain warmer, often in the mid-80s, but the summer crowds dispersed.
Must-Have things to bring to Lake Murray State Park
The vast majority of visitors to Lake Murray State Park are hoping for some fun in the sun and time out on the water. Therefore, List of Parks recommends what to bring, whether on vacation or a day trip, revolve around preparing you to stay safe and prepared while out on the water.
There are very few overcast or rainy days in south-central Oklahoma, making sunscreen the number one priority for most visitors to Lake Murray State Park. if you forget it at home, stop at the Lake Murray Lodge or Lake Murray Marina to pick some up.
Boating rules on Lake Murray require that every passenger onboard a watercraft, whether pontoon, speedboat or fishing boat, have a life jacket also onboard. This includes children under 12.
Snacks and Water
While there are several options available for stock up on snacks and drinking water in the park, it is a great idea to have some on hand. Overnight guests in Lake Murray State Park’s 56 cabins may also want to bring supplies and ingredients to cook. Each cabin has a full kitchen with pots, pans, plates, and utensils.
Where there is heat and water there are certain to be some mosquitos and Lake Murray State Park is no exception. While campsites near the water are often the most desirable, they are frequently the buggiest at dusk and sunset.
Bikes and ATVs
While Lake Murray State Park’s trail network and off-road tracks are available for visitor use year-round, there is nowhere to rent bikes or ATVs in the park. You’ll want to haul yours from home or rental locations in Ardmore, Oklahoma and take advantage of the state park’s ample parking.
Where to stay in Lake Murray State Park
Lake Murray State Park has an array of accommodation options in the park, including campsites, lodge guest rooms, cabins, and unique floating cabins, but you should still book in advance.
There are nine total campgrounds throughout Lake Murray State Park. All campsites in the park operate on a first-come first-serve basis, so it pays to show up early in the day and secure your spot. The cost per night is $14 for tent campsites and semi-modern RV camping and $22 for modern RV sites (with electric hookups and RV dumping stations).
There are options for RV hookups at all campsites, except the park’s smallest Ski Jump Campsite, and most offer other amenities such as picnic tables, restrooms and showers, and playgrounds. Certain campsites are also attached to swim beaches and boat ramps.
Looking for something a little more substantial? There are 32 lodge rooms and 56 cabins available for rent within Lake Murray State Park. The lodge guest rooms are newly constructed and highly accessible from the similarly new restaurant, balloon, and meeting rooms in the lodge. For families, the 56 cabins are a great option with slightly more space and a full kitchen.
Probably the most well-known place to stay in Lake Murray State Park are the floating cabins. Located right out on the water, these cabins can accommodate between four and 18 people. The floating cabins all have a full kitchen, propane grill, and come with bed linens and towels for use during your stay.
Food Nearby Lake Murray State Park
The Foggy Bottom Kitchen is the all-dining option within Lake Murray State Park. The restaurant opens for breakfast at 7am and doesn’t close until 8pm. Conveniently located within the Lake Murray Lodge, it is a popular dining option for many campers and guests staying overnight in the park.
Just beyond the park’s western entrance Fireside Dining gets rave reviews for food and hospitality. The dinner-only restaurant is open from 5pm to 9pm on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights only.
Visitors to the park hoping to score a meal at other times of the day or week can head just a few minutes north of the park to Ardmore, Oklahoma. The town has options ranging from skillet breakfast, to bar-b-q, and everything in between. A few recommended options are Baldwin’s Restaurant and Drive-In, Prairie Kitchen, and Swadley’s Bar-B-Q.
Airports near Lake Murray State Park
Lake Murray State Park attracts over 1.7 million people a year, so undoubtedly a few visitors are coming from outside south-central Oklahoma. The closest option, if arriving by air, is actually located just outside the park’s boundaries. The Ardmore Downtown Executive Airport is a private airstrip that can be used for private and personal planes. However, far more likely options are located within two hours driving distance from Lake Murray State Park.
Both the Oklahoma City Will Rogers Airport and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport are roughly one hour and forty-five minutes away from Lake Murray State Park. Visitors can rent cars or other vehicles from both airports to make the trip.