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By Oklahoma Tourism Staff
Did you know that Oklahoma is home to 11 different ecoregions? Within our great state visitors can explore diverse terrain of all sorts. Lush green pine forest, cypress swamps, vast desert mesas, alabaster caverns, open skied tall grass prairies, and even ancient mountains all have a home in Oklahoma. The varied landscape here makes Oklahoma a nature lover’s paradise, but of all the topographical options to explore, none are quite as unique and unexpected as Oklahoma’s Great Salt Plains.
Nestled away in the north western section of Oklahoma’s Red Carpet Country, The Great Salt Plains State Park lay amongst miles of beautiful farm land and wide open skies. The park hosts a number of modern cabins that visitors can temporarily call home as they enjoy the hiking, mountain biking, swimming, and sightseeing the park has to offer. The Great Salt Plains Lake lies visible from the cabin’s rear window, and is a great lake for catching the catfish, saugeye, sandbass and hybrid striper that populate the salty body of water. Those who want to be just a little closer to nature can set up camp, and take advantage of the great equestrian trails that circle the park, just make sure to bring your own horse!
Adjacent to the park is the Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge. This 32,000 acre lot of protected land is home to over 30 species of mammal, but is more famous for the 312 species of bird who live or stop by the refuge annually. Bird watching enthusiast from all across the world visit the refuge each year to catch a glimpse of the rare migratory water fowl such as the Endangered Whooping Crane, and American White Pelicans that stop at the refuge during their migratory travels. January is a particularly excellent time to spot bald eagle circling the beautiful salt flats, a site beautiful enough to inspire pro bird watchers and laymen alike.
Rare birds aren’t the only thing to be found at the Salt Plains. The refuge is the only spot in the world where crystal enthusiasts can dig for hourglass selenite crystals, a rare and fragile form of selenite, which is a form of gypsum. Digging is open to visitors during the spring and summer months, and is a great activity for kids of all ages.
Anyone interested in taking a trip to the salt plains, or anywhere else in Oklahoma, should make sure to pick up a copy of the brand new 2010 Oklahoma Travel Guide. The 2010 Oklahoma Travel Guide is a 192-page glossy magazine packed full of helpful tips, photography, contact information and travel ideas covering the entire state. Special features in this year’s guide include extended coverage of Oklahoma’s most popular sites from wide open country skies to the hottest in urban nightlife. The 2010 Travel Guide has an updated layout which maximizes its usability and fun.
To obtain a copy of the 2010 Oklahoma Travel and Events Guide or to find additional information on events or attractions across the state make sure to log onto The Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department website, www.TravelOK.com or call 1-800-652-6552.