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Sunday, March 8, 2009

Little Sahara State Park in the News


Doin' the dunes
Little Sahara is an ‘economic hub for northwest oklahoma’By Cass Rains, Staff Writer
WAYNOKA — About four miles south of Waynoka hundreds of thousands of people visit one of Oklahoma’s state parks on an annual basis.
Little Sahara State Park offers all-terrain vehicle enthusiasts some of the best sand riding in the United States.“Little Sahara State Park is ranked by ATV Magazine as one of the top five parks for off-road enthusiasts,” said Park Manager Jason Badley. He said the park “roughly” sees about 300,000 visitors a year, most from the eastern part of the United States, which is a boon to area economies, especially in nearby Waynoka.
“We are only here because of the park,” said Don Blalock, owner of Little Sahara Sand Sports and Little Sahara Power Sports, which cater to the park’s customers. “We completely rely on it.”
Blalock said his business sells ATV parts and accessories to thousands of riders who visit the park.“We’ll have an over 2,000-per-day customer count on a busy day,” Blalock said. “It’s pretty amazing the amount of visitation we get out here.”
The lack of dunes east of the Rocky Mountains makes Little Sahara a premiere destination, he said.“It’s consistently ranked in the top 10 as one of the top riding areas in the country.”Despite such high accolades, Blalock said a majority of his customers are from out of state.“Over 50 percent of the business in my store are people from the Kansas City and the Dallas metro areas,” he said. “It has always amazed me to have so few a number of customers from Oklahoma.“I think maybe a lot of times you don’t even notice what is in your own backyard.”Little Sahara offers more than 1,600 acres of rideable sand dunes, ranging in height from 25 feet to 75 feet.Amenities at the park include showers, picnic areas, RV hookups with electric and water and tent sites. Seasonal concessions provide refreshment, and fuel and groceries are located nearby.Badley said the park has 92 recreational vehicle sites, with electric and water, and there are more than 200 RV sites at private campgrounds near the park. He said the park has two particularly busy seasons: mid-March through mid-June and the beginning of September through the first of December.“Those are the times we really see our customers coming out to the park,” Badley said. “We’re really busy.”
He said not all visitors can be accommodated at the park, which has been good for the area economy. “They do fill the surrounding towns and motels. They have a big economic impact, especially on the fuel-buying,” Badley said. “This is a pretty big economic hub for northwest Oklahoma.“They’re coming here in RVs with ATVs. There’s a lot of local industry that solely caters to our customers.”
Badley said in the eight years he’s been at the park he has been able to see families that come each year, a favorite part of his job.“I just enjoy meeting the campers who come,” he said. “Seeing the kids come here year after year. ... It’s pretty neat to be part of their family experience ...”
The park also is nearby other state parks and attractions, such as Alabaster Caverns State Park, Great Salt Plains State Park, Boiling Springs State Park and Gloss Mountains.

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