Most everyone has heard of the Great Salt Lake and the accompanying Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. Meanwhile, the Sooner State of Oklahoma has its own impressive salty ecosystem named the Great Salt Plains located in the north-central part of the state, northwest of Enid.
The Great Salt Plains includes a state park on the east side of Great Salt Plains Lake which covers 8,960 acres of water surface area. According to the state travel website, the Great Salt Plains Lake is approximately half as salty as the ocean. The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma website describes the geological history of this area as such:
Buffering the lake on the north, west, and south is the Great Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge, which occupies over 32,000 acres and is home to the mystical Great Salt Plains themselves. This surreal environment covers 13,500 acres of the refuge — the only place on the planet where visitors are allowed to dig for selenite crystals in designated areas.
We thoroughly enjoyed our 90 minutes of digging last Friday evening and unearthed dozens of gorgeous selenite crystals (see photos below) beneath a vast canopy of blue skies dotted with clouds. The unique identifying feature of these crystals (formed from gypsum) is their hour-glass shaped interior.
Don’t let the salty nature of this unique environment fool you. The Great Slat Plains/Lake is a wonderful haven for wildlife, as more than 315 bird species have been identified here.
Oklahoma is home to a wide-range of fascinating ecosystems and is full of scenic surprises, including sand dunes, mountains, prairies, grasslands, caves, mesas, badlands, and these salt flats. One only need to explore the Sooner State. Enjoy!