Lake Murray State Park: The Complete Guide

Sunset on Lake Murray

John Elk / Getty Images

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Lake Murray State Park

Address
3323 Lodge Rd, Ardmore, OK 73401-8424, USA
Phone +1 580-223-4044

Lake Murray State Park, Oklahoma's first state park, is named after former Oklahoma governor William H. "Alfalfa Bill" Murray. This 12,500-acre park includes a human-made reservoir (created in the 1930s), a large lodge, cabins, campsites, beaches, and recreational areas. It is one of the state's most popular spots for fishing and boating, as its spring-fed waters are crystal clear and filled with several species of fish. Whether you're a longtime Oklahoma City resident looking for a quick getaway, or an out-of-town guest hoping to spice up your visit to the state, a trip to Lake Murray State Park will offer you recreational opportunities that put you smack dab in the middle of nature.

Things to Do

Lake Murray is a recreational paradise for people who love to swim, fish, and boat. Sunset Beach on the east side of the lake and a smaller beach on the southwest side give sunbathers and swimmers a place to nest. You can fish for certain species of bass (specifically, smallmouth) from the banks of the lake or from a fishing or human-powered boat.

The miles of multi-use trails at Lake Murray State Park provide an excellent opportunity to walk, hike, or horseback ride in a natural setting. All-terrain enthusiasts can make their way to the northeast side of the lake, where an all-day pass gives you access to one thousand acres of ATV and motorbike trails. 

Wind down with a round of either mini-golf or regular golf on one of two 18-hole courses, specified for each. And, don't miss a trip to Tucker Tower, offering a picturesque view of the lake. The tower was originally built as a summer retreat for Oklahoma governors. Today, it contains museum exhibits and a glass-sided nature center.

Lastly, if you're looking for a venue for your wedding, the Lake Murray Chapel, built in the 1960s, hosts several weddings each year and provides space to hold a large event. 

The Best Hikes & Trails

The extensive trail system at Lake Murray State Park provides multi-use trails for hikers, bikers, and horseback riders. Trails can be rocky, tree-lined, and sandy, and low-lying routes can become flooded after a storm (pack waterproof hiking boots). Water and restrooms are available at most trailheads and along some routes.

  • Elephant Rock Trail: This paved, 2.2-mile trail is suitable for beginner hikers and walkers who want to connect with nature. Take the kids along, or use this trail to access one of the other hikes that stem off of this main connector.
  • Buckhorn Hiking Trail: The Buckhorn Trail offers great views of the lake and the park's wooded setting with a 3.4-mile out-and-back. Look out for signs of wildlife, like deer and wild hogs, and wear hiking boots, as this trail can be muddy after it rains.
  • Ski Jump Trail: This 6-mile trail starts at the Ski Jump Campground and takes you into the woods, offering a scenic view of the lake. Mountain bikers frequent this route, as it's a good beginner bike trail for kids. Dogs are allowed on this path with a leash.
  • North Anadarche Trail: Head out from the Dukes Forest Campground for a 6.6-mile out-and-back trail that hugs the lake. Pack along a fishing rod, as you'll have ample opportunities to stop and cast. Set out in the morning or before dusk if you want to see wildlife, and watch out for mountain bikers.

Fishing & Boating

Although Lake Murray doesn't pull rank as one of the state's best fishing lakes, it's a very good spot to catch bass. A designated fishing dock is located at Martin's Landing, and the lake has a number of small coves that provide calm waters for boat fishing. The park's marina stocks bait like worms, frozen shad, and chicken livers, but if you prefer to fish with minnows, head north toward Ardmore in your car to the Lake Country Store or Paul's Place. Both are about a five- to 10-minute drive. 

Just up the street from the Lake Murray Lodge is a rental area for sailboats, personal watercraft, fishing boats, and water sports accessories, like skis and tubes. Rent a jet ski or boat or, for a human-powered experience, grab a canoe, kayak, stand-up paddleboard, or paddleboat. Party groups can rent the Big Kahuna or the two-decked Island Cruiser for a half-day, full-day, or weekend. Both come complete with a jet ski, water slide, and barbecue grill. The Big Kahuna accommodates up to 25.

Consider a guided lake cruise on a huge houseboat. With a minimum group of 25 passengers, you can book a private sail, with dinner included. Advanced reservations are required through Lake Murray Water Sports, which is open from mid-April through mid-September. 

Where to Camp

Nine campgrounds dot the shores of the lake, from Duke's Forest Campground up north, to those centrally located around the park's office. Each campground has restrooms and a shower area, RV hook-ups, a playground, and nearby boat ramps. 

  • Buzzard's Roost Campground: Located on the southwest shore of the lake, this campground is a favorite of overnight visitors to park, as it offers lakeside tent and RV sites. Each site is equipped with a fire ring and a picnic table, and there is an on-site dump station.
  • Marietta Landing Campground: This small campground, located near the dam and spillway, has many of the amenities of the park's larger campgrounds, including a boat ramp and a dock. Yet, it's further away from the centralized park action and is favored by anglers wanting to fish near the dam.
  • Tipp's Point, Elephant Rock, and Cedar Cove Campground: These three campgrounds are located right next to each other on the west side of the lake, sharing the same entrance (which is the only pay entrance located in the park). Tipp's Point is one of the nicest campgrounds on the lake, with beautiful lakeside sites. Elephant Rock is reserved primarily for RV camping. And, Cedar Cove is heavily treed, offering plenty of shade.
  • Martin's Landing Campground: Martin's Landing, on the east side of the lake, offers camping for both tents and RV and contains one of the best beaches on the lake. Families flock here for waterside fun and campsites with a view.
  • Duke's Forest Campground: Duke's Forest is for sports lovers, as this campground contains both a baseball field and a gathering pavilion. It's located on the west side of the lake is only open seasonally for tent and RV campers.
  • Rock Tower Campground: Tent camping at Rock Tower is located just off of the lake on the southeast corner. This campground offers both tent and RV sites and is named after the historical tower on its grounds.
  • Ski Jump Campground: Ski Jump Campground offers only a handful of primitive sites without fire rings or tent pads. However, most sites have a picnic table, a barbeque grill, and there is a vault toilet located on-site, but no restrooms with flush toilets.

Where to Stay Nearby

If you want to turn a day trip into a weekend, but don't feel like roughing it, a few lodging options are available both inside and outside the park. Lake Murray's floating cabins assure you never need to leave the water's edge, while a romantic bed and breakfast better suits those looking for a couples-only retreat.

  • Lake Murray Floating Cabins: Renting one of Lake Murray's floating cabins provides a unique water-side experience. If you have a boat or jet ski, park it alongside the front porch of your temporary home on the lake. Luxury cabins come complete with a living room, bedrooms, kitchen, and a bathroom, in addition to air conditioning and an outdoor grill. Certain cabins will house up to 18 people and linens are provided. Book early, as cabins tend to fill up fast.
  • Lake Murray Lodge and Cabins: The Lake Murray Lodge, located on the west side of the lake, offers 32 guest rooms and suites and 56 cabins for rent. The rooms in the lodge overlook the lake with private patios and balconies. Most of the cabins are small and perfect for a weekend getaway, while others house up to 12 and come complete with a screened-in porch. Unlike the floating cabins, the lodge cabins do not have cooking utensils, pots and pans, or plates, so you'll need to bring your own. And, the vast majority of the cabins are within solid walking distance from the lake itself and don't offer a lakeside view. The lodge has a waterfront restaurant, meeting rooms, and a ballroom, and Lake Murray Water Sports is located on-site for boat and board rentals.
  • Shiloh Morning Inn: This inn is located close to the park in the neighboring town of Admore, and offers romantic accommodations in a bed and breakfast setting. The Shiloh Morning Inn boasts five suites in the main house and four secluded cottages, each with a king-size bed, a television, a mini-fridge, and either a whirlpool tub for two or a private hot tub. In addition to their breakfasts, the on-site kitchen provides room-service dining for two for an extra charge.

How to Get There

Getting to Lake Murray from Oklahoma City is a breeze. Take I-35 South past the towns of Moore and Norman, and toward the city of Ardmore. Take Exit 24 (OK 77S) and travel east a few miles to Lake Murray State Park. Highway 77S is the primary route that accesses all the lake sites and activities. It runs all the way around the lake, meeting up with Highway 70 on both the northwest and the northeast corners. The drive, scenic and interesting, is an attraction in and of itself.

Accessibility

Lake Murray State Park offers many ways for people with all ability levels to access the park. Most of the campgrounds offer ADA-compliant restrooms, campsites, group campsites, and boat ramps. The Lake Murray Lodge is completely wheelchair accessible, with ADA-compliant rooms and a restaurant. Handicapped parking is available at every boat ramp, beach area, and picnic area.

Tips for Your Visit

  • Day-use parking passes are issued throughout Lake Murray State Park, starting at $10 per vehicle.
  • Rent a boat at the main entrance to the Lake Murray Marina or Lake Murray Watersports at the Lake Murray Lodge.
  • Get Hooked on Fishing Guide Service provides fishing guide service for every level of angler on Lake Murray.
  • The Tipp’s Point boat ramp does not have a boat dock next to the ramp. Also, there is an entry fee into this campground area. None of the other ramps on the lake require a fee.
  • Firewood is not provided with cabin or campsite rentals. If you want to have a campfire, either bring wood from home or purchase individual bundles at the lodge. 
  • The Apple Bin restaurant at the lodge is the closest option for dining. It's casual, with a nice lake view, and serves American dishes, like burgers and sandwiches. This restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 
  • The Lake Murray Marina sells snacks, and Fireside Dining, located just west of the park, offers steak and seafood. Otherwise, the best dining options nearby are in the city of Ardmore. 
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Lake Murray State Park: The Complete Guide