Escapes

Q:

My Husband and I are Outdoor-Loving Folk in Central Oklahoma. (They do exist!) Any Suggestions on Things To Do that Don't Require a Plane Ride?

Sunset on Hefner Lake, Oklahoma.     Photo: katsrcool/Flickr

A:You’re in luck. Believe it or not, the Sooner State boasts plenty of state and national parks, wildlife refuges, and more. And these places provide opportunities for everything from hiking to rock climbing and biking to boating. Plus, all of these open-air areas are located within a few hours of OK’s centralized state capital, Oklahoma City.

Hefner Lake & Park is just 16 miles northwest of Oklahoma City. Lake Hefner is belted by a 9.1-mile paved trail that is great for biking or jogging. If you’d rather take advantage of the water, you can sail, sail board, or fish.

When it comes to cycling, you should also check out the Chickasaw National Recreation Area just about 90 miles south of OKC. There are both paved and dirt paths depending on what you prefer. 

If you’d rather do some more extreme biking, you could head a little more than 104 miles northeast to the Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness Area, near Tulsa. There, you’ll find sharp turns, steep inclines and drops, and rocky sections. 

The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, which is just a 110-mile drive southwest of OKC, contains 59,020 acres of opportunities to hike, wildlife watch, rock climb, and fish. The refuge contains about 15 miles of trails that wind through bison-filled prairies, as well as forests and mountains.

Some 160 miles southeast of Oklahoma City, Robbers Cave State Park used to shelter fugitives (hence the name), but now serves as a great place to explore caves, as well as rock climb and rappel on sandstone cliffs.

Just about 180 miles east of Oklahoma City, you’ll find the picturesque Cookson Hills and the Illinois River. One of the most popular ways to enjoy this part of the state is on a float trip on the gently moving river. You can choose your float from a number of river outfitters, who will set you up for anything from a six- to 12-mile trip. You're likely to see a bald eagle or two along the way.

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