Wendel Whisenhunt, Oklahoma City Parks and Recreation Department director, said drought, hot winds and high temperatures are causing the browning and making some trees go dormant early. Even if the greater Oklahoma City area receives more rain before the late October and early November show, it’s doubtful local hardwood trees will deliver much of a spectacular display this autumn.
“We’re unlikely to see much color in the foliage this year,” Whisenhunt said. “There may be some color, but it will be sparse.”
But people can still enjoy the coming crisp fall weather at the city’s numerous local parks, including its newest, the 299-acre Bluff Creek Park at N.W. 122nd Street and N. Meridian Avenue.
“Bluff Creek Park is very large and has a beautiful walking path and biking trail through the forest,” Whisenhunt said.
Another family favorite to consider is the 144-acre Martin Park Nature Center, 5000 W. Memorial. The heavily wooded park features a self-guided nature tour and an education center, plus a five-acre lake and a wildlife sanctuary featuring animals native to Oklahoma.
“Martin Park Nature Center has good programming and it is very loved by the public,” Whisenhunt said.
Extensive renovations are now complete on the Margaret Annis Boys Arboretum, located on 10 of the 160 acres that make up the historic Will Rogers Park in northwest Oklahoma City at 3400 N.W. 36th Street. The arboretum is universally accessible and features hundreds of varieties of trees, both native and out-of-state species.
“We just finished the Margaret Annis Boys Arboretum with the help of Oklahoma City bond issue funds and a gift from the Oklahoma City Community Foundation,” Whisenhunt said. “The trees at the arboretum are very old and it is like a tree museum where visitors can learn about the trees of Oklahoma.”
Additional options to visit include the Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge at N.W. 51st Street and Stinchcomb Road, Lincoln Park and Zoo Lake at 2101 N.E. 50th Street, and Route 66 Park at 9901 N.W. 23rd Street.
The one sanctuary for color this fall may be the Myriad Botanical Gardens in the heart of downtown. Maureen Heffernan, Myriad Gardens Foundation executive director, said the area’s oaks, maples and other trees are continually irrigated, helping to ensure at least a modest display of golden yellow, orange and red leaves. Myriad Gardens also has a host of events on its fall schedule.
“While we may not have a brilliant display of trees, if you want to see fall colors, we’ll have it,” Heffernan said. “We will have a wonderful display in our Children’s Garden called ‘Pumpkinville’ with 2,000 pumpkins. It will be super charming, the kids will love it and there will be harvest charm for all.”
The gardens also feature an autumn foliage getaway trip to Hot Springs, Ark., planned for Oct. 12-13. The trip includes a luxury motor coach that will tour the Talimena Drive route to Arkansas Highway 88 with an overnight stay in downtown Hot Springs and a visit to the Garvan Woodland Gardens.
“Even if the fall colors are average, the trip will be wonderful,” Heffernan said. “The drive is beautiful any time of the year.”
For more information, call 297- 3611.