Spend the day cruising sand dunes in northwest Oklahoma with this guide to the best places to eat, stay and play.
Continue reading below
Known as the “Little City by the Sand,” Waynoka is home to the popular Little Sahara State Park - a destination known to ATV and off-roading enthusiasts for its excellent sand dunes. Looking at the park from above, you’ll see a incredible display of creamy white sand in an area otherwise known for its red dirt. Planning your Waynoka getaway has never been easier with this itinerary guide to ATV rentals, gorgeous log cabins and unexpected culinary fare.
No ATV? No problem! Before your trip, give Stewart Sandsports a call to reserve your ATV and they’ll have it gassed up and ready when you arrive. Rentals are available by the half day, full day, 24 hours or 48 hours six days a week (closed Monday). There is also a variety of rentals available, including a Polaris automatic ATV, two-seat Polaris and four-seat Polaris. The minimum age to rent an automatic ATV is 18, and the minimum age to rent a side-by-side is 27. Passengers must be at least six years old to ride. Once you’ve been equipped with helmets, you can drive your rental straight to the park, which is approximately two miles away, via Sahara Drive, a sand trail that runs parallel to US-281.
Over 1,600 acres of sand dunes await within Little Sahara State Park. The dunes have formed over time from terrace deposits, remnants of prehistoric times when the Cimarron River flowed over the entire area. Today, the area is marked by dunes ranging in height from 25 feet to 75 feet that are crisscrossed in some areas by trees and shrubs, while other areas are open as far as the eye can see. Spend the day zipping around shrubs, traversing hills and gaining air as you race across the vast landscape.
Note: It costs $10 a day for all drivers and passengers to get on the sand, and passengers under 10 years old are free. Brush up on park rules and regulations under the 'Read More' button here.
After a day of riding the dunes, spend the night under the stars in one of the 143 tent sites or 86 RV campsites scattered through the park. Sites within all three of the RV campgrounds - Cowboy Camp, Golden Sands and Buttercup Camp - are able to be reserved in advance, while all of the tent campsites are available on a first come, first serve basis. All RV sites offer either 30 or 50 amp electric and water hookups, and a dump station is available in the main park area.
Another great overnight option is Gloss Mountain Outfitters, located about 15 miles southeast of the park. The on-site Cedar Haven Lodge can be rented either as a complete unit or in smaller sections, such as the basement only or main floor and loft, to accommodate groups of four or less. The lodge was built as a custom log home and offers a full kitchen, bar, living room and covered porches on all sides and levels of the home.
Climb up the observation deck (link to 360 view) at Little Sahara State Park and enjoy a beautiful sunrise. Not only will you enjoy gorgeous views, but also the shaded platform offers bench seating and information on area history. Then, head into town where you can grab a bite to eat at the Hometown Cafe before venturing out to explore the town.
Experience a little Waynoka and Woods County history with a trip to the historic 1910 Harvey House and Santa Fe Depot complex, open Tuesday through Saturday. The buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and house the Waynoka Air Rail Museum and a gift shop. Browse displays on the Transcontinental Air Transport (forerunner of TWA), Santa Fe Railroad and notable citizen Fred Harvey. With its location along the BNSF main line, the museum sees up to 100 trains pass by each day. Visitors will also spot a large model railroad, static diesel locomotive and a four-room, 1920s-era foreman's house.
End your time in Waynoka with some delicious German cuisine in a fun atmosphere at Cafe Bahnhof, open Wednesday through Saturday. Start your meal at this little slice of Bavaria with a warm pretzel and sweet mustard before moving on to authentic entrees like bratwurst, Wiener schnitzel, beef roulade or schwein’s haxn. Cafe Bahnhof also has a bier garten where you can savor wine and roughly 20 varieties of German beer. Cheers to a fun trip to Waynoka!