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Rock Climbing in Oklahoma's Wichita Range

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When people think of Oklahoma, they think of flat boring plains with tumbleweeds blowing across long straight highways. Nothing could be further from the truth.

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Oklahoma is host to several small mountain ranges that offer not only great Jeep destinations, but numerous other outdoor activities. The Wichita Mountains of southern Oklahoma is one of these ranges.

The highlight of this little mountain range is the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge (WMWR). Situated in the southwest part of the state near Lawton, the WMWR is one of Oklahoma’s gems. There is something for everyone there including hiking, boating, fishing, camping, scenic roads, biking, and wildlife viewing. The refuge has one of the largest bison and elk populations east of the Rockies. Although all these activities are fun, that’s not why Jackie and I head to the Wichitas.

Little known to most is the outstanding rock climbing at the WMWR. World class climbers like Duane Raleigh (owner of Rock and Ice Magazine) cut their teeth on the granite slabs, faces, and cracks of the Wichitas. Raleigh, and climbers such as Bill Thomas, Mark Herndon, Jon Frank, and numerous others put up great routes in a bold style that is still the standard today.

Jackie and I love to head to the Wichitas on a typical winter weekend to enjoy a day of Rock climbing. Our 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 4×4 is perfect for hauling all the gear, dog, and climbers for the hour and a half drive south from Oklahoma City. Off-roading is not allowed in the WMWR, but there are many miles of roads that are perfect for enjoying the scenery.

We hopped in the Grand Cherokee with friend, Rene, and headed to The Narrows, one of the more popular areas of the WMWR. This was a beautiful winter day with temperatures in the 60s and not a cloud in the sky. A one mile approach is needed to access the Narrows and you’ll be breathing hard as you negotiate the ups and downs of the trail while getting there. Our favorite area in the Narrows is Zoo Wall. Zoo Wall has about 20 beautiful granite face and crack climbs that will keep you busy all day.

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