Summer Guide: Day-trippin’ 

Oklahoma features an array of educational and back-to-nature excursions.

click to enlarge Lake Wister has 115 miles of shoreline along the entrance to Ouachita National Forest. - PROVIDED
  • provided
  • Lake Wister has 115 miles of shoreline along the entrance to Ouachita National Forest.

Heavener Runestone Park
18365 Runestone Road, Heavener

One of the biggest mysteries in Oklahoma history is the center of a beautiful state park near the Arkansas border.

A runestone is a raised stone with an ancient inscription, and for many people, the 12-foot-high sandstone atop Poteau Mountain with Scandinavian carvings is proof that Vikings sailed up the Arkansas River to Oklahoma centuries before Columbus landed in the Caribbean.

Other historians theorize that the markings were carved in the 17th century by a member of La Salle’s expedition or by a Swedish captain during French colonization of the 18th century.

click to enlarge Medicine Park Aquarium & Natural Sciences Center opened in June 2017. - PROVIDED
  • provided
  • Medicine Park Aquarium & Natural Sciences Center opened in June 2017.

Medicine Park Aquarium & Natural Sciences Center
1 Aquarium Drive, Medicine Park

Coming up on its one-year anniversary, Medicine Park Aquarium is an excellent scientific addition to the idyllic town (population 438) located on Medicine Creek at the base of Lake Lawtonka and near the entrance of Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.

The aquarium features seven gallery rooms showcasing aquatic freshwater life from the rivers and reservoirs of Oklahoma, North America and the world. In the new Turtle Town exhibit, visitors can feed live turtles, view a snapping turtle and see an American alligator up-close and personal.

Round out your trip by taking a hike through the Wichita Mountain trails or drive to the top of Mount Scott. Riverside Cafe, 180 E Lake Drive, offers comfort food with an excellent view.

Lake Wister State Park
25567 U.S. Highway 270

Lake Wister State Park is the gateway to the Ouachita National Forest that offers watersports on 7,300-acre Lake Wister, hiking and plenty of family activities.

The park features a miniature golf course and water spray park that is for both kids and adults. If you want to stay overnight, there are 15 cabins and 20 tent sites for rent.

The 6.4-mile hiking trail offers view of a variety of wildlife, and there is a designated waterfowl viewing area within close proximity to the park.

Chickasaw National Recreational Area
901 W. First St., Sulphur

The area in and around Sulphur offers Oklahoma’s natural beauty at its finest. Tour the free national park that features 20 miles of trails, bicycling access, swimming and fishing.

While you’re in the area, also check out Turner Falls Park — Oklahoma’s tallest waterfall — and if you want to spend some extra time in the area, the nearby The Artesian Hotel, Casino & Spa offers luxury accommodation.

Pin It

More by Jacob Threadgill

Latest in Summer Guide

View all of today's events »

© 2023 Oklahoma Gazette / Tierra Media Inc. All rights reserved.

Powered by Foundation