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Pay to park: Oklahoma state parks to begin charging parking fees

Drew Butler
The Daily Ardmoreite

Starting next week visitors to Lake Murray and many other state parks across Oklahoma will be asked to pay for a parking permit once they arrive. Oklahoma residents will receive a 20% discount on all parking passes. Parking fees for one day will be $8 for those with Oklahoma license plates or Oklahoma tribal license plates and $10 for visitors from out of state.

Guests can also opt to purchase an annual pass valid at all state parks for $60 for Oklahoma residents or $75 for those from out of state. Honorably discharged veterans and Oklahoma residents aged 62 and older will receive a 100% discount after eligibility verification by Oklahoma State Parks.

According to the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department, resources generated from these fees will be used to invest in infrastructure and help to maintain them at an acceptable standard. Lake Murray State Park General Manager Richard Keithley said these fees will help capture revenue from those visiting the park for the day.

“Right now all the burden of paying (for upkeep) falls to the Oklahoma taxpayers and to those who are overnight camping,” Keithley said. “This is allowing all those who are sharing the facility to take responsibility for the payment.”

Keithley said the first month and a half will be an educational process for both guests and park employees as everyone gets used to the new system. Even after August 1, those who do not have a parking pass will only receive warnings. It will be a few months before anyone receives any tickets.

“For the first month and a half this will be an educational process. After that, we’ll go to a bit of an enforcement process,” Keithley said. “However, it will be a soft enforcement with warnings only. In addition to that, enforcement will be primarily in the day use areas. They’re still trying to figure out what areas will be exempt and how to enforce that.”

Keithley said those parking for the ATV riding trails and the water sports will definitely be exempt from a parking pass because they are already paying to use the facilities. Guests who visit for a meal at the lodge will have their parking validated by the restaurant and will not need a parking pass.

Guests will have a variety of ways to pay to park. Guests can pay upon arrival or pay in advance by visiting www.premiumparking.com or downloading the Premium Parking App to their smartphone. The prices listed on the website are for out-of-state visitors and will reflect the Oklahoma resident prices once the vehicle tag is put into the system.

For more information about the parking program visit www.travelok.com.