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  Photo: Gerry Vinson 
Sailing is a popular pastime on Fort Gibson Lake.

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Fort Gibson was the westernmost post of the U.S. Army at one time.

It was Wednesday, sunlight glinted off the van windows, and we were on our way to Fort Gibson, so it was a great day. We started our drive from Oklahoma City at 7 a.m. 

Grand Casino Hotel Resort

Our first stop for the day was the Grand Casino Hotel Resort in Shawnee. Sitting just off the highway on I-40, it was very easy to see and very easy to get to. We stopped in to enjoy their incredible $2.99 full breakfast special and drop a few coins in the slot machines. The Grand Casino offers over 1,800 of the most popular slot machines as well as a sports bar & grill, a fine dining steakhouse and the amazing Grand Buffet. They also offer blackjack, poker, craps and more for your gaming enjoyment.

Fort Gibson National Cemetery

After a completely satisfying breakfast, we drove to Fort Gibson in eastern Oklahoma. Arriving at the Fort Gibson National Cemetery entrance was a sobering moment. Large white marble columns frame the front gate. The sight of hundreds of perfectly aligned, small white marble headstones was impressive. The veterans interred in the cemetery had served their country in every conflict since the War of 1812. We paid our respects and then headed for the Fort Gibson Historic Site and Interpretive Center. 

Fort Gibson Historic Site

We arrived at Fort Gibson Historic Site after a short drive. The historic site consists of an 1824 fort and a museum building as well as several support buildings such as a hospital, officers’ quarters and the stockade. We met our tour guide Chris Morgan at the museum and began our tour. The museum offers a look at Fort Gibson’s history and the role it played in keeping settlers out of Indian Territory.

After touring the museum we walked over to the fort, a large square-shaped log building with an open courtyard in the middle. All rooms or quarters are on the exterior wall and most have been furnished with period displays to show how the soldiers lived in the 19th Century. When walking around the grounds it was easy to imagine a soldier’s struggle at the fort where day-to-day life was made difficult by their lack of modern-day conveniences.

It was easy to imagine a soldier’s struggle at the fort where day-to-day life was made difficult by their lack of modern-day conveniences.

Sequoyah State Park & Lodge

Sequoyah State Park & Lodge, which was our final stop for the day, was a short 15-mile drive away near Hulbert. Sequoyah State Park’s natural beauty was incredible and the park offers guests many outdoor recreation opportunities including golfing, hiking, horseback riding, wildlife viewing, swimming, boating and much more. A large nature center gives visitors an up-close view of several of the park’s inhabitants including deer, wild turkey, raccoons, birds of prey and a wide variety of other creatures. Deer are a common sight throughout the park and can often be seen right from your car.        

The Lodge at Sequoyah State Park is comprised of a lodge and a group of cabins located within Sequoyah State Park. Sitting on a promontory and surrounded by Fort Gibson Lake on three sides, the views from the lodge rooms were amazing. An outdoor pool oasis area is located in the center of the horseshoe shaped lodge. Rooms offer either a view of the pool or a view of the lake. The full-service restaurant features a Western-themed dining room looking out into the pool area. The facility also offers a game room stocked with plenty of board games, ping-pong tables, pool tables and more. The park sponsors fun Western activities like hayrides and opportunities to boot-scoot and two-step to country music, and kids can participate in the Lil’ Wranglers program.

Todd Bennett is the director of recreation at the park and was nice enough to take us out on a pontoon boat tour of the lake. He brought along some of the lodge restaurant’s signature chocolate chip cookies, which were out-of-this-world good. Even though the weather was a little cool for a boat trip, the warm chocolate chip cookies and the beautiful scenery made it an incredible experience we’ll all remember fondly. 

Tips:

Breakfast at Grand Casino Hotel Resort in Shawnee is a great value.

A great time to visit Fort Gibson Historic Site is during one of their living history events when the old fort comes to life and teems with uniformed reenactors. Search our festival and events listings for the dates of these events.

Remember to book your Sequoyah State Park cabin or lodge room at least a month in advance. Don’t wait until the last minute because they fill up fast.