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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tustin, California, United States
    Posts
    272

    Default Roadtrip Shorts - A jaunt to South Central Oklahoma

    Last week, the folks and I took a 6-day retreat and flew to visit family in Plano, TX. My sister-in-law, acutely aware of our past roadtrips, insisted that I create an itinerary so we can take a few days and go exploring somewhere while we're here.

    It was a little more challenging to research, since there aren't many notable federal/state parks within a 3-hour drive of the Dallas/Ft. Worth metro vicinity. Since my folks haven't been to Oklahoma yet, I figured to mark another state off their bucket list and focus on the areas between the border and Oklahoma City. I came up with the following:

    A) Lake Murray State Park
    B) Chickasaw National Recreation Area
    C) Turner Falls Park

    Of course, I just happen to be looking in one of the hardest-hit drought areas in the nation, so I was not exactly hopeful to see what the online pictures were showcasing. But I attempted to make the best hand with the cards given. We rented a cabin near Sulphur, OK that we would stay overnight and use as our center.

    I'm not counting this as part of our regular roadtrip series, but thought it may give some insight for other travelers interested in this area. Here's my report on our 2-day "microtrip" to the OK. Days are broken up by posts.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tustin, California, United States
    Posts
    272

    Default Day 1

    We used 2 cars to divide a party of 6, and at 9:00am CDT headed up Interstate 35E, crossing the Oklahoma border soon after. Twenty minutes later, we found the US 77 off-ramp for Lake Murray State Park and headed east. The primary (aka only) thing of particular interest was the Tucker Tower on the south side, which contained a nature center with many exhibits, as well as an ancient meteorite. Imagine my extreme frustration when we get to the proper turn off where the sign was removed and the road closed off due to construction. Nowhere on the official website or within the park was this stated. That's not irritating or anything...

    So instead of going around the entire lake, probably useless by this point, we turn around and go back to the Bay/Marina turn we passed earlier. Here sits one of the major launch ports for the boats (although hardly anyone was there). A view of Tucker Tower was across the way so we had a bathroom break and took what pictures we could. All in all, this place was a bust.

    We get back to I-35 and continue north until we hit Route 7. I wasn't exactly sure what we were going to do next, but there were billboards advertising a Chickasaw Cultural Center. The group seemed to agree on that and it was the same exit as where we were going anyway so I figured why not.

    Come to find out the Cultural Center was only a few miles away from the cabin we had, plus it was literally right next to the Chickasaw NRA, which we were visiting the next day. How convenient. We spent about 2-3 hours there, going through the presentation and exhibits about the Chickasaw tribe. They also had a traditional village with many houses you can walk through. If you like Indian history and culture, you'll dig this place.

    We checked in to our cabin at 3pm and rested an hour or so before heading back out to dinner in Sulphur. Afterwards we decided to catch the sunset at Turner Falls, picking up some delicious fried pies on the way. We didn't go into the park, but went to the outlook found up the hill on US 77. This was definitely hit by the drought because the falls, usually gushing, was relatively down to a trickle. I'm sure the seasonal timing of our arrival wasn't particularly primed either. We took pictures as the sun set over the horizon, then headed back to the cabin to end the day.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tustin, California, United States
    Posts
    272

    Default Day 2

    Our cabin was nice and roomy, so we made the best of it as long as possible. Around 10:00am we headed over and through Sulphur to our next destination, the Chickasaw National Recreation Area (formerly Pratt National Park). The first stop, of course, is the Travertine Nature Center with the exhibits and gift shop. Although there's a lot to do here recreationally, we didn't quite have that kind of time and were only here to check it out briefly and take pictures.

    The trails to get to the springs were a bit too long, so we continued on the paved road. From the Nature Center, we started out and went straight across the main road to check out "Little Niagara" as it were. They might as well have re-dubbed it "No Niagara" because the mini-falls was bone dry. Another drought victim, no doubt. We drove up the road a little bit and found the Travertine island, but there wasn't too much there if you weren't in a recreational mood. Onward...

    On our way to the west loop, we found the Bison viewpoint, although it's just one edge where about 5 buffalo were chillaxing. I expected the bison pasture to be open but with the brush and foliage there was no way to see inside from any direction. Hmm, ok. We take the south entrance and loop all the way around, finding an overlook view but not much else.

    We're about to turn off this road and go back into town, but then I saw the old stone bridge off the side, the attraction which I completely forgot about. Lincoln Bridge, dedicated in 1906, was easily the highlight of this leg. I was able to walk down into the creek below where some waterfalls were running at a pretty good pace. Great pictures from down there.

    Done with the Chickasaw. We head back through Sulphur and Davis (getting more fried pies) and on to Turner Falls, except we go inside this time. Prices were rather steep for what little was here, although if we had waited 2 more weeks, we could have gotten in for much cheaper. Awesome timing as usual.

    The first thing to check out was Collings Castle that was built on the hill by some eccentric doctor. A few dozen steps led you up the hill and through the corridors. The tourist vandalism kinda sucks, but the castle itself was definitely unique in its own right.

    Over to the falls we go. Yep, still a trickle. And not another soul was there. I guess we're die hards. Taking in the solidarity (and shooting with the camera) was all there really was to do here.

    On the way back, I decided to be adventurous and go down the two water slides near the park entrance, where they dump you a few meters above the lake surface. The temps flirted with 100°F so it was definitely a good time to cool off. Once I got the hang of the physics (after landing on my back the first time) I made a few runs. Had to get my money's worth from this place somehow. :)

    That's it! We get back on I-35 and head south back over to Texas and home again.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default

    Enjoying the latest virtual tour with you and your parents....

    Mark

  5. #5

    Default

    If you should make another run into Okla I would strongly suggest the trip up to Broken Bow lake area a really nice drive and a museum inside the park that is free and interesting (or was)
    From there you could drive on up to Big Cedar and take the Talimena trail drive back over to Talihani

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tustin, California, United States
    Posts
    272

    Default

    Thanks Doc. I may go again sometime when the drought isn't so bad...

    I've got pics from the TX/OK trip on Facebook. You don't need an account to view them so feel free to take a peek.

    There's a few intermingled pics of just family, mostly at the end, so you can skip past all those, otherwise the rest shows a glimpse of the Chickasaw/Turner Falls area (by Davis and Sulphur, OK) and the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, TX.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 10-06-2012 at 04:11 PM. Reason: Fixed the link so it should work now

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