WAYNOKA, Okla. — The relationship between Little Sahara State Park and the city of Waynoka continues to be mutually beneficial, as this year two “duner” events will involve both the park and downtown.
Waynoka mayor Susan Bradford said the city is thrilled that both groups — Sand Outlawz and UTV Takeover — are willing to locate part of their events in the town proper.
“The Sand Outlawz will be here Easter weekend, and the UTV Takeover group will utilize most of downtown for four consecutive days in the fall,” Bradford said. “We’ve seen tremendous cooperation between the duner groups and the community.”
Little Sahara State Park is roughly 1,650 acres of sand dunes designed for off-road vehicles, including UTVs, ATVs, dune buggies, 4x4s, and side-by-sides. Technically located a few miles south of Waynoka, the dunes actually extend all the way to the city’s southern edge.
“The city has built a 24-hour trail that allows the duners to ride all the way into Waynoka, and if they have a permit sticker they can access downtown and other areas of the town,” Bradford said.
According to the mayor, inquiries from duner communities about property available in Waynoka prompted the city council to approve permits for the off-road vehicles so that prospective buyers could look at property inside the city limits. The result has been sales of properties formerly classified as “falling down,” to use the mayor’s words.
“The duner community has contributed to improving the city’s real estate, and park employees—rangers, temporary and seasonal help—often live in Waynoka,” Bradford said. “The park has been a huge resource for our community, and we love the relationships we have developed with the park and the communities who use it. The cooperation has been such that we are finally seeing park visitors showing more interest in our city.”
One Waynoka business, Stewart’s Service Center, not only repairs ATVs and dune buggies but rent vehicles to ride in the park as well. Hotels and the Deuces Wild Campground also benefit from the park’s proximity. While there are RV hookups inside the park, including three attached to pavilions, many visitors choose to stay in Waynoka, and the 24-hour trail has made staying in the city much easier.
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Rachel Rittenhouse, an employee of the park, said the dunes are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and she and the mayor both touted new features in Little Sahara such as an ADA-accessible observation deck and playground equipment.
“The observation deck is close to the biggest dunes in the park,” Rittenhouse said. “Currently — they change due to shifting sand — the largest is about 75-feet tall with an almost 75-foot drop on one side.”
According to Bradford, dune season runs from March through November, and sometimes December, depending on the weather.