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Black Mesa offers opportunities to not only hike, but dream

Black Mesa in the Oklahoma Panhandle is a sought-after destination for thousands each year. People are drawn to the hiking, astronomy, rare plants and animals, campsites and dinosaur tracks.

by Bryan Painter Modified: July 7, 2010 at 4:36 am •  Published: July 7, 2010
/articleid/3474015/1/pictures/1018436">Photo -  Black  Mesa is located in Oklahoma's panhandle and visitors can hike to the top of the plateau. Photo provided By Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Dept.
Black Mesa is located in Oklahoma's panhandle and visitors can hike to the top of the plateau. Photo provided By Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Dept.
The area marks the point where the Rocky Mountains meet the shortgrass prairie and many species are at the easternmost or westernmost point of their natural range.

Black Mesa State Park and the Nature Preserve are a birder's paradise. Other wildlife in the area includes black bear, bobcat, mountain lion, mule deer, bighorn sheep and antelope.

Kenton enjoys its semi-arid High Plains climate in the summer since it keeps it a bit cooler than other parts of the state. Its northerly location coupled with the higher altitudes give it a more mild summer. It still gets warm, of course, but only has about seven days each summer with high temperatures at 100 degrees or above, said Gary McManus of the Oklahoma Climatological Survey.

That's in stark contrast to even the eastern Panhandle where Beaver sees 21 days with 100-degree temperatures. The low temperatures are where Kenton (like most of the western Panhandle) residents are really lucky. The average low temperature from June to August is 60.6 degrees.

July is Kenton's wettest month with an average of 3.14 inches of rainfall and August comes in second with 2.78 inches.

In this area, there are many things to see in addition to Black Mesa, including looking at dinosaur tracks, touching a three-state marker or gazing at the old Santa Fe Trail and try to envision the hopes and dreams, as well as the materials, carried across it.

"It's very beautiful, rugged and remote,” Watkins said.

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by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
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Black Mesa State Park

Where: Located about 15 miles from the nature preserve, Black Mesa State Park is adjacent to Lake Carl Etling.

Amenities: Recreational vehicle and tent campsites, picnic facilities, a playground, restrooms with showers and a group camp with bunkhouses.

Hours: Dawn to dusk.

Hiking: Those

intending to hike should allow at

least four hours to journey to the top

of the mesa from the parking area

and back.


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