Alabaster Caverns State Park: Oklahoma's Geological Wonder


Prehistoric Seas and the Laramide Orogeny


Two hundred million years ago, a vast sea stretched across America from the Rocky Mountains in the west to the Appalachians in the east. Small mountain ranges dotted this great sea, studded with rain forests typical of those found in equatorial regions. This shallow sea, called the Western Interior Seaway, slowly began to receed during the Late Cretaceous period (65-55 Million years ago), leaving behind thick marine deposits and a relatively flat terrain where the shallow seaway once existed.

As the Western Interior Seaway slowly evaporated, large deposits of gypsum and other minerals were left behind. Around 60 million years ago, a great upheaval of the earth (the Laramide orogeny) raised the gypsum bed close to the surface, and over time, water streams tunneled caverns through the formation.

It was during this great upheaval that the Prehistoric Alabaster Caverns in Northwest Oklahoma were born.

Alabaster Caverns


A massive cliff overhangs the entrance of the main cavern, appearing as if it could suddenly topple in at any moment. Dense vegetation surrounds the mouth of the cave, and if it weren’t for the steps leading up to it, the entrance would be nearly invisible.
Once inside the Alabaster Caverns, one feels as if they have entered into another world. Cocooned inside the water swept cavern the temperature suddenly drops to a chilly 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Light slowly diminishes as one moves deeper into the caverns. With a maximum height of fifty feet, and a width of sixty feet, the walls seem to sparkle like stars at night. Violet formations of selenite crystals peek out from small crevices in the cavern walls as the trickle of a small stream echoes through the chambers.
Walking through the caverns, one may come across uniquely named boulder formations, such as "Ship's Prow," and into chambers called "Devil's Kitchen" or "Crystal Vault." During certain times of the year, one may also encounter many unique species of bat, including the western big-eared bat, eastern pipistrelle, western big brown bat, and Mexican free-tailed bat.

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