Everyone wants to go to Hawaii or maybe Carmel-by-the-Sea in California. These are sunny havens known for perfect weather and breath-taking beauty. America is rife with scenic vacation spots of every type for every taste. But Oklahoma? What draws the adventurous traveler to this no man’s land north of Texas for a vacation spot? You would be pleasantly surprised. There is some pretty gorgeous scenery with some pretty interesting background and many tales to tell for the American history buff. There is something for everyone on the hunt for a new kind of native experience from kayaking to canoeing.
Great Mountain Spots
If you like picturesque drives, there are ample choices among Oklahoma’s outdoor vacation spots. In the southern part of the state, you can wind your way through the Ouachita Mountains via the Talimena National Scenic Byway. Every mile brings a stunning view of verdant forests, cascading waterfalls, and spectacular winding rivers. More foliage of wonder (especially in the fall) comes along the Wichita Mountains Scenic Byway, all the way up to Mount Scott, with panoramic views that will stun and amaze. And winter is as impressive as spring and summer with snow-kissed banks at Mountain Fork River or Buffalo Creek Guest Ranch. The ranch is a gorgeous place with plenty of outdoor activities to engage in such as horseback riding, hiking and buffalo spotting. It is a good way to escape the city and enjoy the fresh air of the Oklahoma mountains.
Amazing State Parks
There is no dearth of flora and fauna in these diverse regions of Oklahoma’s vacation spots. Don’t miss the wooded banks of the Illinois River, the fragrant pine forests, and the quaint and friendly towns along Route 66 (the longest stretch of drivable road in the United States at 400 miles). No road trip is complete without a visit to Beaver’s Bend and Hochatown Park, Quartz Mountain Resort, Lake Eufaula, Roman Nose Park. Turner Falls in Arbuckle Mountain, awe-inspiring Natural Falls Park, Chickasaw National Recreation Area near Travertine Creek, Alabaster Canyon Park, the Black Mesa area, and Robbers Cave (remember Jesse James?). The names are exotic, evocative, and redolent with Oklahoma’s Indian heritage. You will want to take the time to learn the lore and immerse yourself in a rich and nostalgic past such as the Valley of the Peaceful Rippling Waters noted for its healthful mineral springs. Nature preserves keep everything pristine and primeval while housing local creatures like bighorn sheep and regional plant life.
Enjoy the sunset on a mountain top, fields of wild flowers abloom, clear and crisp well-stocked lakes, rolling dunes in Little Sahara State Park, free-range buffalo on the roam, and a scissor-tailed Flycatcher poised right before your eyes. Oklahoma is surprisingly a great area for birding among other outdoor recreational activities. Among colorful hardwood trees, lush ferns, and flowering cacti, you can find a plethora of wildlife (golden eagle, black bear, deer, bobcats, bison) to view at close range and colorful plants to scrutinize and admire. Oak trees and cedar populate Keystone Ancient Forest in Sand Springs while botanical gardens like Honor Heights Park in Muskogee abound.
Inland Oklahoma is like harking back to another era when American small-town life was the norm, values were simple, and life was uncomplicated. Although blessed with several semi-metropolitan spots like Oklahoma City and Tulsa, complete with sprawling suburbs, Oklahoma vacation spots are rural and remote. The state (bound by Arkansas on the southeast, Texas to the south, and Kansas to the north) encompasses over 68 and a half thousand square miles to explore as you hike, horseback ride, swim, hunt and fish, and camp your way to nirvana. Tranquil little valleys give way to immense lakes and outcropping rock formations. It is a delight for an outdoors lover, a bucolic playground, a naturalist’s dream, and a loner-seeking-solitude fantasy.
Take a tour or go on your own. Whether hiking or biking on rugged or well-marked trails or motoring lazily, there is no end to the natural glory of Oklahoma for scenic vacation spots. It is unsurpassed in earthly delights and long overdue in recognition for its vast tall grass prairies, sandstone bluffs, ancient mountains, free-flowing waterways, and grand Red Rock Canyon. It is a photographer’s paradise, undiscovered by the masses, and ready for visitors seeking a peaceful, unspoiled Eden and an enchanting vacation destination.