Twin Rocks Mountain looms above Styx Canyon
Twin Rocks Mountain is one of Oklahoma's finest summits. While a statement like that may not inspire much excitement, those familiar with the Wichita Mountains nod their heads with eager anticipation. The Wichitas offer mighty granite peaks, dome and canyons amidst a sea of unyielding flatness. Almost entirely unknown outside of the Sooner State, the Wichita's are one of the Plains States' most scenic regions.
Located at the heart of the Charon's Garden Wilderness, Twin Rocks Mountain is the third highest peak in the wilderness area. Indeed, Elk Mountain, the highest in the wilderness is only 78 feet taller. The height of the mountain coupled with its location in the center of the wilderness means the peak has some of the best views of the Wichitas. An argument can be made that it actually has the best views of the range. The other competitor for that title would be Mount Scott. While the vista from the summit of Mount Scott is certainly awe-inspiring, its location at the edge of the Wichitas means it takes in a lot of flat land in addition to the peaks at the east end of the range. On the other hand, Twin Rocks Mountain is at the core of the most confoundedly rugged corner of the entire Wichita Mountains. This area is a tangled pile of granite mountains and canyons. It is not for nothing that the wilderness is referred to as Charon's Garden, which is practically synonymous with "Devil's Playground". The view from the summit takes in this vast maze and includes 10 major peaks in the immediate vicinity in addition to all the peaks in the east, north and west. Topping it all off is the view of the massive south face of Elk Mountain, a huge granite cliff nearly 600 feet high.
Granite Mountain and Styx Canyon viewed from Twin Rocks Mountain
The area immediately surrounding Twin Rocks Mountain is one of the remotest corners of the Wichita Mountains. Most people who venture into the Charon's Garden Wilderness do so via the Elk Mountain and Charon's Garden Trails, both of which are well to the east of the mountain. No trails venture near Twin Rocks Mountain, which means anyone intent on reaching the summit must be prepared for a lot of scrambling over weathered and fractured granite and through some thickly wooded and boulder strewn canyons. As noted at length in the previous paragraph, the views from the summit are worth the effort.
Twin Rocks Mountain is a large granite dome. It has about 500 feet of relief above the surrounding area. While this is a significant level of relief, it is often difficult from most vantage points due to the extremely rugged surroundings. The only places where a real appreciation of the peak can be had is in Styx Canyon on the peak's west side or from the south flanks of Elk Mountain. The chasm on the south side of the peak, seperating Twin Rocks Mountain from Granite Mountain is one of the deepest and narrowest in the Wichitas and seems out of place in light of the oppressively flat land visible beyond it.
Looking up the route to the summit of Twin Rocks Mountain
Twin Rocks Mountain can be approached from numerous directions. The most commonly used approach is from the east, scrambling up the mountain from the Post Oak Lake drainage. A good approach is also viable by climbing over a rocky ridge separating Twin Rocks Mountain from the Crab Eyes. More detailed information can be found here
Charon's Garden Wilderness Map
From I-44 take Highway 49 (exit 45). Go west 10 miles to the Refuge gate. Proceed through the park, past the visitors and turn right at the stop sign. Continue west and turn left into the Sunset Picnic Area.
If coming from Highway 62, take Highway 115 (Cache exit) north to the Refuge Gate. Proceed north. The road will turn west and continue until turning left into the Sunset Picnic Area.
Backcountry camping area between the Crab Eyes and Sunset Peak
Camping in the wilderness is by permit only. These can be obtained for $2.00 at the visitors center or by mail. Permits are issued for a maximum of ten people in the backcountry at one time. Only the northern portion of the wilderness is open to camping and no fires are permitted. Watch out for bison and longhorns, since they tend to wander through this area.
Doris campground is a few miles away and is a good option if you do want to sleep in the backcountry. Another great option is the group campground on the eastern border of the wilderness. It is much cheaper than the Doris campground and you can head up into the wilderness directly from there if you do not mind some bushwhacking.
Refuge Camping Site
Twin Rocks Mountain is located in the Charon's Garden Wilderness Area of the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. Unlike most wilderness area, this one is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). No permits or fees are required to climb, but camping is by permit only. Wilderness rules and ethics apply.
Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge,
Route 1, Box 448,
Indiahoma, OK 73552
- Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge