Robber's Cave State Park Wilburton, Oklahoma
The cave is located in a “frontal belt of the Ouachita Mountains called the Sans Bois and traverse southern Haskell and northern Latimer counties in southeastern Oklahoma". According to the Oklahoma Historical society, “Sans Bois is a French phrase meaning "without wood."
Well, I thought I'd take a short ride yesterday out to Robber’s Cave State Park down south from here and really hadn’t considered how far it actually was. I had just replaced the worn-out tire on the back of my Roadstar, (Lela), and was looking to put a few miles on ‘er to get it broke in.
So, 180 miles and four hours later, I feel confident of doing a pretty good job – maybe. I also got to see some really beautiful country in the process.
Where Robber's Cave is located, five miles north of Wilburton, OK, the terrain changes very subtly until you get to the cave and notice all the pine trees, hills, and ravines.
The road, South highway 2, literally takes you from the floor of the Oklahoma plains to an elevated look-out where, in some areas the peaks reach more than 1,800 feet above sea level. This altitude and seclusion was coveted by early outlaws such as Belle Star and others.
Robber's Cave is also located in a “frontal belt of the Ouachita Mountains called the Sans Bois and traverse southern Haskell and northern Latimer counties in southeastern Oklahoma. According to the Oklahoma Historical society, “Sans Bois is a French phrase meaning "without wood."
It is one of the many names indicating early French exploration and influence in Oklahoma.
Taking a deeper look into the history of this area, there have been two indigenous groups recognized living in proximity to the Sans Bois range. The Wichita, a confederacy of smaller tribes and the first documented to have inhabited the area, lived in larger villages in major stream valleys and the Choctaw Nation came to Indian Territory in significant numbers from 1831.
Robbers Cave State Park, named from reports that the cave was used as a hideout for several outlaws, is located four miles north of Wilburton, and is almost in the center of the Sans Bois range.
While the resource rich area has always drawn hunters, trappers and miners, the mountains surrounding Robbers Cave really achieved notoriety after the Civil War with legendary outlaws such as the Youngers, Daltons, Rufus Buck Gang, Jesse James and even Belle Starr.
These wanted fugitives took advantage of the area’s natural amenities as a place to cool their heels from the long arm of frontier justice.
The altitude of the cave also allowed for an almost 360-degree panoramic view of the surroundings and contains natural rock formations that allowed horses and provisions to be kept at the ready but away from the prying eyes of the law.
Robber’s Cave has been a popular destination for our family over the years and is one of our favorite places where we would have mini-family reunions while camping overnight.
The park itself hasn’t changed very much over the past 20 years except for the addition of some anti-theft devices in the bathrooms and a few other needed "upgrades".
It's still a good place to get together with the family and do some camping, fishing, paddle-boating, rappelling, or hiking and sightseeing. If you are a lover of the outdoors, you'll love Robber's Cave!
After my, eh, short ride, I am pleased to report that Lela did wonderful and the new tire promises many more miles of Zen-inspired, uninterrupted riding. Overall, I have no complaints whatsoever.
I'm sure you'll be instantly recognized by suspicious stares and nervous glances; hailed incessantly as a knowledgeable insider of mythological outlaw legends and showered copiously with much praise, applause, and fanfare as you are escorted quickly to the nearest exit. Seriously though, I think you'll be glad you did.