(NPS)
Sunset at the Point, Lake of the Arbuckles, Chickasaw National Recreation Area

Exploring the Attractions of Chickasaw Country: A Summer 2013 Guide

ICTMN Staff
6/28/13

Summer is a special time for outdoor lovers who are looking for new adventures in an ever-changing environment with truly something for everyone.

For kindred spirits, Chickasaw Country is a must-see, must-do, must-visit area spanning 13 counties in southeastern and south-central Oklahoma. Attractions will appeal to historians, bikers, golfers, hikers, fishermen, hunters, photographers and outdoor aficionados.

Attractions and information about Chickasaw Country excursions may be explored by visiting the Chickasaw Nation Welcome Center in Davis, Oklahoma, or from the comfort of your home by going to ChickasawCountry.com.

THE GEM OF CHICKASAW COUNTRY

Bringing the vision of the Chickasaw people to life, the Chickasaw Cultural Center is dedicated to sharing and celebrating Chickasaw history and culture through demonstrations and community outreach activities. The destination attracts visitors worldwide and is located at 867 Charles Cooper Memorial Road in Sulphur, Oklahoma.

The largest tribal cultural center in America is situated on 109 acres of rolling hills, woodlands and streams adjacent to the Chickasaw National Recreation Area.

Using modern technology, theatrical environments and interactive media stations, this state-of-the-art campus provides a non-traditional way of connecting to the Chickasaw culture. Explore the exhibit center, amphitheater, large-format theatre, research center, sky pavilion, garden village and café as you discover the amazing Chickasaw way of life.

A Chickasaw village invites visitors to explore the centuries-old way of life of the Chickasaw people. Stomp dances, stickball competitions, and the impressive art of Chickasaw Mike Larsen greet everyone who enters the facility. Since 2010, more than 170,000 people from around the world have enjoyed the Chickasaw Cultural Center.

Hours of operation are Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., and Sunday from noon – 5 p.m.

THE CHICKASAW NATIONAL RECREATION AREA

The Park

The Chickasaw National Recreation Area is part of the National Park Service system and a natural choice for family-fun, corporate events and educational tours. Combining Travertine Creek, Rock Creek, Veterans Lake and Lake of the Arbuckles, the Chickasaw National Recreational Area is a lush paradise of a unique flora and fauna combination of eastern deciduous forest and western prairies meant for all visitors. Located in south-central Oklahoma, the area also offers multiple activities year-long, including boating, water skiing, sailing, fishing, swimming, hiking and camping.

The park is also home to over 30 miles of trails novice and experienced hikers alike can enjoy. Six campgrounds for adventurers and seasonal hunters are available for those with appropriate hunting permits and licenses.

Lake of the Arbuckles

Located six miles southwest of Sulphur, Oklahoma, Lake of the Arbuckles consists of 36 miles of shoreline and 2,300 acres of open water. The unusually crystal clear water and deep rock cliffs make it one of the most popular lakes for trolling, scuba diving and fishing in Oklahoma. Fishing is permitted year-round with catfish, crappie, bass and perch as top catches. Turkey and deer may also be found on the hunting grounds. The Lake of the Arbuckles is perfect for a number of activities that combine recreational use with scenic, scientific and historic values.

Ariel view of the Lake of the Arbuckles (NPS)

Veterans Lake

This 67-acre lake was named in honor of U.S. war veterans when it was built in 1933. Veterans Lake is located in the western portion of the Chickasaw National Recreation Area’s Platt Historic District. It features 3 miles of shoreline which provide great opportunities for small boat use, fishing, hiking and picnicking.

Travertine Creek

Visitors will find a 1.5 mile trail along Travertine Creek, along with a Nature Center and picnic areas. The Travertine Nature Center also has nature activities, exhibits, dioramas, an interactive learning area and live animals native to the area.

Along Travertine Creek (NPS)

THE ARBUCKLE MOUNTAINS

The Arbuckle Mountains is south-central Oklahoma's ancient mountain range, stretching 35 miles east-to-west, and located 5 miles south of Davis, Oklahoma. It is an outdoor paradise featuring waterfalls, lakes and hiking trails that draws thousands of visitors each year. Turner Falls Park (see below), the Chickasaw National Recreation Area and Lake of the Arbuckles are popular recreation areas within the scenic mountain range.

THE BLUE RIVER

Those looking for an outdoors and adventure will enjoy Scotty's Blue River near Tishomingo, Oklahoma. The Blue River is known far and wide for trout, small-mouth bass, black bass, crappie, and blue catfish fishing. Deer, turkey, and wild hog hunting are also popular.

More adventures await those brave enough to go kayaking down the Blue River. This class II-III river gives a pleasant floating experience with several short falls and ledges depending on seasonal rainfall. Public access points are limited and a Blue River Conservation Passport is required for anyone to enter the Blue River area. Check with the Oklahoma Wildlife Department for availability and criteria. More supplies and information can be found at Scotty's Blue River One Stop.

The Blue River (TravelOK.com)

Amenities include Americans with Disabilities Act compliance, canoeing, kayaking, campsites, rafting, fishing and a host of other activities, such as bird watching and outdoor photography.

BOGGY DEPOT PARK

Located at 475 S. Park Lane in Atoka, Oklahoma, Boggy Depot Park is a restful place for both recreation and campers. It is open year-round and features a fishing lake, nature trail, baseball diamond, playground, picnic tables, group picnic shelters, charcoal grills and comfort stations with showers. The lodging offers 35 acres of camping ground for tents and recreational vehicle parking and includes amenities for an exciting stay in southeastern Oklahoma.

The Boggy Depot Park received its name from Clear Boggy Creek and was used as a Confederate commissary depot during the Civil War. In 1972, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places and is now managed by the Chickasaw Nation. For more information, click here.

FOREMAN PRAIRIE HOUSE HISTORIC SITE

Built by W.T. Foreman, this architecturally and historically-significant 1918 brick home offers a look into the early Oklahoma lifestyle. Its grounds, gardens and collections provide tourism, artistic, educational and entertaining programs for the Duncan, Oklahoma, community. The house has been reopened as the "jewel" of Duncan in 2007. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is located at 814 W. Oak.

Tours, appointments and special events can be held in the two-story building. Tables and chairs are available to serve 100 people for small weddings, class reunions and other indoor or outdoor functions. The facility is open 1-4 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays or by appointment. For more information, visit ThePrairieHouse.com.

CAMP BOND

Located at 2901 S. Camp Bond Road in Tishomingo, Oklahoma, is Camp Bond. If cabin living is your style, you’ve arrived at the right location. The campground features 10 large cabins, a family cabin, 23 hotel units and 24 full recreational vehicle hookups. With plenty of wide open spaces and Pennington Creek running through the campground, there are a number of recreational activities to choose from. A large fishing pond, nature trails, swimming pool, 18 hole putt-putt golf, basketball court, softball and soccer fields are available.

LAKE MURRAY STATE PARK and LODGE

As Oklahoma's oldest and largest state park with 12,500 acres located on the shores of Lake Murray, the facility appeals to outdoor and water sport enthusiasts. There are 52 guest rooms and suites and 56 cabins, many are historic structures built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. In addition, nine RV campgrounds with more than 300 RV sites and almost unlimited tent sites are available.

It features diverse terrain, exceptional trails and historic sites. Outdoor activities include golf, horseback riding, swimming, paddle boating, baseball and much more. Several meeting rooms, a restaurant and cozy fireplace is located in the lobby for your relaxation. The lodge is located at 13528 Highway 77 in Ardmore, Oklahoma. For further details, click here.

LAKE MURRAY STATE PARK ALL-TERRAIN VEHICLE RIDING AREA

Lake Murray State Park has 1,000 acres of trails with different kinds of terrain, sand, hills and escarpments perfect for ATV riding. Riders pay $10 per day per rider to enjoy 10 miles of outdoor fun from 8 a.m. until sundown. RV camping is available for $28 a night, while tent camping is available for $17 a night.

Riders 18 and older are required to wear an approved motorcycle helmet. Only three- and four-wheeler, MC and dirt bikes are allowed. Off -road trucks, dune buggies or golf carts are disallowed in the ATV area. For details, click here.

LAKE TEXOMA STATE PARK

Oklahoma's second largest lake offers water activities, camping, picnic areas, hiking and wildlife viewing. Camp in one the two RV areas featuring 30- and 50-amp full hookups with water service or the tent sites with showers and boat ramps.

Lake Texoma State Park is proud to be a premier striped bass hot spot in the southwest and home to the Texoma Striper Guide Association. The full service Catfish Bay Marina is located within the park with a fuel dock and striper guide fishing services. The park also has a marina mart with a convenience store and gas station. Lake Texoma Park amenities have no day-use fees and run on a first-come, first-serve basis. It is one of the premiere destination spots in Oklahoma and is located at 1988 State Park Road, Kingston, Oklahoma. For more, click here.

TURNER FALLS

Turner Falls Park is the oldest park in Oklahoma and was named for farmer Mazeppa Thomas Turner who discovered the state's largest waterfall in 1878. Just below the Arbuckle Mountains, the water forms Honey Creek before falling 77 feet into a natural swimming pool. The 1,500-acre area around the falls has been compared to the Grand Canyon and Black Hills as it provides an amazing geological view into the past. Since 1868, the recreational area has been a popular family destination providing a rock castle, picnic sites, cabins, bath houses and sandy beaches to explore. Turner Falls Park is located at I-35 and Highway 77 near Davis.

Turner Falls (MyWaterfallsinfo.net)

CHICKASAW COUNCIL HOUSE MUSEUM

Explore Chickasaw history and culture at the Council House Museum, located at 209 N. Fisher Ave., in Tishomingo. Dating back to the Trail of Tears removal to Indian Territory and Oklahoma statehood in 1907, the Chickasaw Council House Museum showcases why the Chickasaw Nation is known as "Unconquered and Unconquerable."

The first Chickasaw Council House built in Indian Territory is preserved inside the museum, along with the largest collections of Chickasaw art, artifacts and archives. Browse souvenirs, books, music, Chickasaw language materials as well as pottery, jewelry, beadwork and other artwork by Chickasaw artisans. The Chickasaw Council House Museum is located in Capitol Square in Tishomingo next to the genealogy research center and Chickasaw National Capitol. It is open Tuesday-Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

CHICKASAW NATION WHITE HOUSE

The Chickasaw Nation White House once served as the pre-statehood home of Chickasaw Governor Douglas Hancock Johnston and his family. It was used by the Chickasaws from 1889 to 1971. Johnston was an important political figure during Oklahoma’s transition from Indian Territory to statehood. The mansion was built in 1895 and was host to political gatherings, tea parties, dances, receptions and weddings.

The Chickasaw Nation restored the building to its full grandeur with 14-foot ceilings, cherry mahogany fireplace mantels, crystal chandeliers and a dance floor. When you go through the mansion, you will get a glimpse of life in the Victorian period dating from the late 1800s to the early 1900s. It is listed as "The White House of the Chickasaws" on the National Register of Historic Sites. Hours of operation are Wednesday-Saturday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. The attraction is closed during federal holidays.

FORT WASHITA

For those who love history and spooks, visit Fort Washita, located at 3348 State Road 199 in Durant, Oklahoma. The fort was established in 1842 in the Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory, as the southwestern-most military post of the United States. The mission of the soldiers was to protect the recently removed Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians. The Southern Plains Indians to the west and non-Indian intruders posed threats to the peace and stability of the region. On May 1, 1861, the fort was abandoned by U.S. forces and occupied the next day by Confederate troops from Texas.

Confederate soldiers used the post as a headquarters during the remainder of the Civil War. After the war, the Chickasaw Nation received the old post grounds and buildings from the federal government. The Colbert family, prominent Chickasaws, owned the property until it was acquired in 1962 by the Oklahoma Historical Society. The site is on the National Register of Historic Places and designated as a National Historic Landmark.

Civil War buffs make the fort come alive each summer with re-enactments. Be prepared, though. Ghosts, apparitions and strange goings-on have been reported and many “ghost hunters” from around the United States have visited the site. Fort Washita is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. and 1-5 p.m. on Sunday. The facility is closed during major state and federal holidays.

AIR DONKEY ZIPLINE ADVENTURE

Zip on down to Air Donkey Zipline Adventures. Come soar over one mile through the scenic skies of the Arbuckle Mountains. Streaming six ziplines and one sky bridge, it is an adventure of a lifetime, gliding through the ancient mountain range while gazing at the breathtaking views.

The longest zipline extends 1,800 feet, which is Oklahoma's longest. Each canopy tour is over two hours long and guided by certified professionals. You may book your zipline tour online more than 24 hours in advance, otherwise call for information and reservations. The attraction is located off I-35 at Exit 55. Go west to Dolese Road and then two miles south.

Zipline the Air Donkey way (Air Donkey Zipline/Facebook)

CROSS BAR RANCH

The Cross Bar Ranch consists of 6,500 acres of prime Arbuckle mountain range virtually untouched and teeming with wildlife. The ranch offers the largest area in Oklahoma dedicated to ATV and motorcycle off-road riding. There are also 3,000 acres of equestrian and mountain biking areas. ATV and motorcycle Cross Bar Ranch visitors are welcome to camp overnight. Please note camping is primitive and located in a wilderness setting. RV's are welcome with provided hookups. The Cross Bar Ranch is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Prices include use of helmets. Prices are $40 per hour with a two-hour minimum. An all-day pass is $125 for fun beginning at 9 a.m. and ending at 5 p.m. Ranch admission is $10 daily per adults and $5 daily for children. Adult camping is $12 per person and $7 for children. Checks and credit cards are not accepted so bring cash. For more information, contact Cross Bar Ranch at 580-369-2444.

DISCOVER THE CHICKASAW NATION WELCOME CENTER

The new Chickasaw Nation Welcome Center is located at the southwest corner of Interstate-35 and State Highway 7 at Exit 55 in Davis, and across from the new Bedré Fine Chocolates Factory. It is a one-stop destination for information on all attractions in Chickasaw Country.

The center also provides information about attractions throughout the state with trained staff members, informational kiosks, and printed brochures highlighting recreational, historic, cultural, and business-related information.

The 5,500-square-foot facility features original Chickasaw and American Indian artwork as well as made-in Oklahoma retail items and other great gift items. The displayed artwork in the facility rotates throughout the year and some of the artwork is on sale while others are used as interior decoration. The facility grounds offer a children’s playground area, indoor lounge area, public restrooms, dog park, coffee service, vending machines, and RV/bus parking.
 

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