Although not very big in size, Robbers Cave does hold a unique history, and is the main attraction of this state park. Long ago, the cave and surrounding area were used by Osage Indian hunting parties. Later, it became an object of French exploration during the eighteenth century. The French obviously had many dealings and impact in the area and in eastern Oklahoma, leaving behind such names on the San Bois Mountains and the Poteau River.
What makes the cave most famous, and probably gives it its namesake, was that it was used as a hideout by Civil War deserters and outlaws. Some of the more famous included Jesse & Frank James, the Youngers Brothers, the Dalton Gang, the Rufus Buck Gang, and Belle Star, who actually had a cabin at one time only 20 miles from the cave.
While the cave itself and its entrance are not all that big, its location and other features are what made it such a good hiding spot. The entrance is up on one of the large rock formations, giving the outlaws a view for miles around of anyone approaching. During the nineteenth century, there were numerous small springs located in the area, and even one in the cave, which provide plenty of fresh water for men and their horses or pack animals. Down below the cave, some of the rock formations and large boulders formed an area that created a sort of natural corral, which helped to hide the outlaw's horses from anyone approaching. Also, the cave was reported to have a secret exit, in which the outlaws could easily escape without being noticed. With all of these factors, it is no wonder why it was chosen as such a great hideout between "jobs."
Rock Climbing & Rappelling
Situated in the San Bois Mountains, Robbers Cave and the bluffs surrounding it are of tightly compacted sandstone and shale. The bluffs and rocks have made the park a favorite of local climbers and even rappellers. Numerous routes can be found up the many different bluffs and boulders, while there are as many more spots from atop to rappel down. There area has some slightly difficult climbs, but for the most part, it is a great spot for beginner and intermediate climbers to learn or brush up on their skills.