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Black Mesa
Black Mesa summit, Oklahoma.jpg
Black Mesa, highest point in Oklahoma
Highest point
Elevation 4,973 ft (1,516 m)
Listing U.S. state high point 23rd
Geography
Location Colorado / New Mexico / Oklahoma, U.S.
Topo map USGS Jacks Gap
Geology
Mountain type Mesa
Climbing
Easiest route Hike

Black Mesa is a mesa in the U.S. states of Colorado, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. It extends from Mesa de Maya, Colorado southeasterly 28 miles (45 km) along the north bank of the Cimarron River, crossing the northeast corner of New Mexico to end at the confluence of the Cimarron River and Carrizo Creek near Kenton in the Oklahoma panhandle. Its highest elevation is 5,705 feet (1,739 m) in Colorado. The highest point of Black Mesa within New Mexico is 5,239 feet (1,597 m). In northwestern Cimarron County, Oklahoma, Black Mesa reaches 4,973 feet (1,516 m), the highest point in the state of Oklahoma. The plateau that formed at the top of the mesa has been known as a "geological wonder" of North America. There is abundant wildlife in this shortgrass prairie environment, including mountain lions, butterflies, and the Texas horned lizard.

History

The plateau has been home to Plains Indians.

In the late-nineteenth and early twentieth century the area was a hideout for outlaws such as William Coe and Black Jack Ketchum. The outlaws built a fort known as the Robbers' Roost. The stone fort housed a blacksmith shop, gun ports, and a piano. The present-day Oklahoma Panhandle area, which was then considered a no man's land, lacked law enforcement agencies and hence the outlaws found it safe to hide in the region. However, as new settlers arrived in the area for copper and coal mining and also for cattle ranching activities by grazing cattle in the mesa region, law enforcement became more effective, and the outlaws were brought under control. In more recent times, at least one person has claimed to have been abducted by extraterrestrial aliens at Black Mesa.

Geography

The Mesa is situated in the Cimarron County in the Oklahoma Panhandle. The Black Mesa plateau there is part of the Rocky Mountains and the shortgrass prairie. Some features include the Old Maid Rock, and Devil's Tombstone. The mesa's base includes a 200 feet (61 m) escarpment which is parallel with the Dry Cimarron River's north bank. Its highest elevation is 5,705 feet (1,739 m) in Colorado. The highest point of Black Mesa within New Mexico is 5,239 feet (1,597 m). In northwestern Cimarron County, Oklahoma, Black Mesa reaches 4,975 feet (1,516 m), the highest point in the state of Oklahoma.

A hiking trail of 4.2 miles (6.8 km) leads from the preserve to the summit which rises about 800 feet (240 m) above the level of the surrounding plains, and a round trip requires four hours minimum; overnight camping is not permitted.

The mesa's highest point within Oklahoma is marked by a granite obelisk, and a visitors' log.

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