While Oklahoma isn’t exactly known for its outdoor adventure opportunities, most people don’t realize that there is actually quite a bit to do around the Sooner State. Last summer, my husband and I took the opportunity to explore as many of Oklahoma’s “hidden gems” as possible. There are lots of fun and unique outdoor activities to choose from, but here are just a few of our favorites…
– Alabaster Caverns State Park (Freedom):
If you are into exploring caves, this place is for you. Alabaster boasts of being the largest, publicly available gypsum cave in the world. We absolutely love going here to see the bats – which most of the time are just a few feet above our heads! You’ll take a tour, where your guide will tell you all about the caverns’ history and natural phenomenon. And it’s a fantastic place to go when the sweltering summer heat rolls in, as the temperature in the caves never gets above 60 degrees F.
– Chickasaw National Recreation Area (Sulfur):
We love hiking out here. It’s scenic, and there are a variety of easy to moderate hiking trails. In the spring, the trails get quite pretty, with big leafy trees, flowers, berries, and stone work from the 1930’s Civilian Conservation Corps. You’re likely to see deer among other animals, and there is even a section of the park dedicated to buffalo viewing.
– River Sport Adventures (Route 66 Boathouse):
Grab a kayak and float down into the Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge. Enjoy the sights and sounds of nature. Then, when you are ready, paddle back upriver to the boathouse for a great afternoon workout. We do this all of the time in the spring/summer and have so much fun! If you don’t feel like kayaking, rent a bike from the boathouse or standup paddle board (SUP) from Flat Tide Surf (next to the boathouse).
– Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge (Lawton):
This is a classic Oklahoma hangout in the summer. People come from all over the state to hike, fish, and watch the wildlife. Look for buffalo and elk as you drive to your trail and stop by the “prairie dog town” on the way. Hike to the top of Elk Mountain (a moderate hike on a clearly defined trail) and look around at all of the unique rock formations. And don’t forget to stop and eat at the historical Meers Restaurant after you’ve finished exploring! (Note: Meers is cash or check only, so be prepared for this.)
– Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness Area (Tulsa):
When we are around the Tulsa area, we love going to Turkey Mountain. It’s the perfect place for walking or biking, while enjoying nature. There are miles of trails. Bring your dogs, and hike around for hours.
– Talimena Scenic Byway (SE Oklahoma):
The views here are amazing and well worth the drive through. The Ouachita backpacking trail goes right through the area, if you are in the mood for some hiking. Stay a night or two just south in a Beaver’s Bend cabin (which has everything from economy to luxury accommodations), and explore Beaver’s Bend State Park before heading home.
– Other Activities (Not Detailed here, but check them out anyway):