Download GPX file for this article
34.72917-98.50250Full screen dynamic map

From Wikivoyage
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Medicine Park is a town in the Great Plains Country region of southwest Oklahoma just north of the Fort Sill Military Reservation.


Medicine Park is in Comanche County, in the Wichita Mountains near the entrance to the 60,000-acre Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge. Many of the original structures are constructed out of naturally formed granite cobblestones. These red granite cobblestones are unique to the Wichita Mountains. It was founded on July 4, 1908 by Oklahoma Senator Elmer Thomas, and was Oklahoma's first planned tourism resort.

Medicine Park has grown into an arts community with several artists in residence including sculptors, fine artists, graphic designers, musicians including street theater actors. There are outdoor concerts at the Park Tavern throughout the summer. The population was 373 at the 2000 census.


The community has a rich and colorful history. It was founded by Elmer Thomas, a young lawyer who had just become the first Senator of Oklahoma.

In the spring of 1906, five years after the establishment of the Wichita Mountains National Forest, Thomas envisioned the need for a recreational area and for a permanent water source for the budding and newly founded City of Lawton. Over a period of a few years, he and a partner, Hal Lloyd from Altus, quietly purchased approximately 900 acres of what is now the cobblestone community of Medicine Park.

When the resort opened, it consisted of a large surplus Army tent with a wooden floor where hot meals were served. Two dams were constructed on Medicine Creek to form Bath Lake Swimming Hole and a few campsites were built. Over a period of approximately 4 years, numerous improvements were added, and the area began to take on the look and feel of a bona fide resort.

About this same time, numerous such resorts were opening near the entries of other newly founded National Parks and National Forests all across the country. The American public held a remarkable fascination with nature. The coming of the automobile gave unprecedented access to the country's natural wonders. Resorts began springing up nationwide to provide these new found "tourists" with food, lodging and entertainment.

Tourists flocked to the area from around the state and North Texas to enjoy the mountains, wildlife, swimming, good food and lodging. Soon, there were two inns -- the Outside Inn and the Apache Inn (which was formerly the Press Association Clubhouse) -- Baird's Health Sanitarium (which featured clay tennis courts and a spa) -- a dance hall, the Medicine Park Lodge (atop Mount Dunbar), a canteen, petting zoo, bath house, general store, school, bait shop, hydro electric power plant and the infamous Dam Café. Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys (the kings of western swing) became regulars at the dance hall from 1929 through the late 1930s. Numerous other famous bands of the day made their way through Medicine Park in route to big city venues in Oklahoma City, Dallas and Fort Worth.

The entire Bath Lake Park was landscaped with beautiful gardens, large trees, foot bridges and grassy areas for visitors to lounge around, sunbathe and enjoy the natural beauty. The area flourished during the late teens to the 1940s as the "Jewel of the Southwest."

The nearby Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge and Lake Lawtonka attracted thousands of people each weekend and throughout the seasons. Medicine Park became the "playground" for the State's rich, famous and notorious. Folks would come to town for the weekend and leave their "work-a-day" world, troubles and reputations behind them. Outlaws and horse thieves mixed with noted politicians and businessmen, soldiers and officers from Fort Sill, families and socialites in this new cobblestone community. The pages of the Town's colorful history are filled with the likes of Will Rogers, Wiley Post, Frank Phillips, Bob Wills, Al Capone, Bonnie and Clyde, Pretty Boy Floyd, Lil Hardin, Colonel Jack Abernathy, Les Brown, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans and countless others.

Get in[edit]

Medicine Park is near the city of Lawton and Fort Sill. Interstate 44 runs north-south just to the west of Medicine Park. State Hwy 49 runs east-west and can be accessed from I44. Medicine Park is at the main entry to the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, the second most visited wildlife refuge in the country - hosting more than 1.5 million annual visitors.

Get around[edit]


  • Gondola Lake and Dam.
  • Lake Lawtonka Dam.
  • Lake Drive.
  • The White Deer.
  • Spirit of Survival Marathon.
  • Old Plantation.
  • Veterans Monument.
  • Sanders House.
  • Buffalo Sculpture.
  • Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.
  • Lake Lawtonka.
  • Lake Elmer Thomas Recreation Area.
  • Fort Sill, +1 580-442-5541.
  • Meers.
  • The Tour de Meers, +1 580-429-8051. Held here annually.
  • [dead link] Museum of the Great Plains, Red River Trading Post, Lawton, +1 580-581-3460.
  • Fort Sill Museum, Lawton, +1 590-442-5123.


  • Bath Lake Swimming Area.
  • Medicine Park Trail.
  • Trout Fishing.





Medicine Park has wonderful lodging from historic cabins to Bed & Breakfasts. You will find a variety of accommodations available.

Go next[edit]

This city travel guide to Medicine Park is an outline and needs more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. Please plunge forward and help it grow!