The Largest City Park in Oklahoma Is a Massive 1,000 Acres

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Written by Carlee Parsley

Published: March 4, 2024

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The largest city park in Oklahoma, Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge, sits north of Oklahoma City to offer a spectacular getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life. The refuge began as a 27-acre parcel in 1917, annexed from the city to protect the part of the North Canadian River that feeds Lake Overholser. Then, the Oklahoma City Water Utilities Trust and the Parks and Recreation Department came together in 1983 to expand the parcel into the massive refuge it is today.

Autumn leaves frames the bird refuge

Fall brings beautiful colors to the Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge’s oak and sycamore trees.

The largest of Oklahoma’s 170 parks, Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge includes 1,000 acres of marshland, swamps, trails, trees, lakes, and a peaceful river. The refuge is very popular with kayakers, boaters, fishermen, bikers, and pedestrians, as it boasts ample space for them all. It also has multiple gates and entrances for visitors from every direction. For those looking to get onto the water, the main put-in for boats and kayaks is on 39th and Lake Overholser Drive alongside a parking lot. Equipment rental businesses frequent the parking lot for those without their own.

The swamp brush and cattails surrounding the four small lakes on the refuge offer a serene soundtrack for visitors to enjoy. The coffee-colored river adds to the symphony while also offering some relaxing exercise for kayakers and canoers. Walking, biking, and running trails connect the four lakes, creating the perfect excuse to meander through the refuge on a break. Some trails are even paved for easy access. Tall oak and sycamore trees surround the area, providing shade for those sunny Oklahoma days.

Animals in Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge

Red-tailed hawk pair perched on a tree branch

Red-tailed hawks make their meals from smaller creatures that also live within the refuge.

The refuge is home to many animals who make their homes in the protected space. The river teems with catfish, bass, and sunfish. Water-loving creatures abound, so visitors have an excellent chance of seeing white-tailed deer, beavers, raccoons, snakes, frogs, and more. But don’t worry — alligators don’t live this far north. The Oklahoma City Audubon lists over 200 birds who call the refuge home, including:

  • Multiple heron species
  • Indigo Buntings
  • Prothonotary Warblers
  • Carolina Wrens
  • Mississippi Kites
  • Double-crested Cormorants
  • Red-tailed Hawks
  • Great Horned, Barred, and Eastern Screech owls
  • White-faced Ibis
  • Various sparrow species

The wild population of the refuge attracts birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts from all around. In addition, Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge is one of the two spots in Oklahoma City where waterfowl hunting is permitted at blind sites. Interested hunters must have current permits and obtain a blind site through an annual drawing held by the Oklahoma City Police Department every September.

Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge is a rare slice of nature tucked within an urban setting. Its 1,000 acres offer sanctuary not just to the many animal species that call the refuge home but also to the residents of Oklahoma City. What better way to relax or get out into nature than to enjoy a huge natural area right in your backyard?

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About the Author

Carlee is a writer and researcher with nearly a decade of experience that ranges from fiction to business. She loves to write about the outdoors, weird and lesser-known animals, and all types of flora.

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