Whether you’re looking for an activity that will get your adrenaline pumping or simply seeking a quiet escape into nature, you’ll find it in Oklahoma. Check out these great adventure hot spots with ready-made trip ideas.
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More than two dozen state parks and countless outdoor recreation areas in Oklahoma beckon thousands of visitors each year to reconnect with nature and try something new. The state is packed with opportunities to experience nature from beneath the water’s surface to high above the clouds and everywhere in-between. Explore these unique outdoor activities and you might just discover a new hobby or hidden passion.
Soar above the Arbuckle Mountains with a zip-lining excursion in Davis. Air Donkey Zipline Adventure will take you on a two-hour sky tour over Oklahoma's breathtaking scenery, wooded areas and rock quarries. With six platforms over 60-ft. high and Oklahoma’s longest zipline at 1,700-ft. (that’s the length of five football fields!), Air Donkey will keep your adrenaline pumping as you soar through the air.
Fuel: After your big day traversing the skies over Davis, grab a seat on the popular garden patio at Las Cascadas Mexican Restaurant and relax over a huge plate of sizzling fajitas.
Rest: Turner Falls Park Cabin features top-notch amenities and a porch that overlook the natural beauty of Turner Falls Park. This cabin is only a short hike away from the naturally cool swimming pool that forms at the base of the falls.
Rock-hop your way from one boulder to another along Charon’s Garden Trail, located within the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in scenic southwest Oklahoma. This tucked-away trail offers intermediate to advanced hikers interesting geographic features such as unique rock formations, winding creeks and gorges. Wind along this 2.4 mile path for hiking and boulder hopping amidst huge granite boulders for a heart-pumping good time and sweeping valley views.
Fuel: The one and only Meers Store & Restaurant in nearby Meers serves up fresh burgers made from local grass-fed Longhorn beef, cheese fries and the restaurant’s very own wheat brew.
Grab a paddle and hit Broken Bow’s Lower Mountain Fork River, where the perfect mix of mild rapids and quiet ripples will make for a memorable experience. Float trips along this scenic stretch are best when taken spring through fall and year-round trout fishing is also available. Check out area outfitters for equipment rentals and guides.
Fuel: Step into Grateful Head Pizza Oven & Tap Room in nearby Hochatown to sink your teeth into a tasty pizza pie topped with fresh veggies, gooey cheese and meats bursting with flavor.
Rest: Relax and unwind after your river float with an overnight stay at River’s Edge Cottages. These luxurious and peaceful cabins are fully furnished and complimentary use of bikes and a canoe are available during your stay.
What better reward for a strenuous hike than to look out over a breathtaking landscape as it unfolds below? Hike to the highest point in the state at Black Mesa State Park & Nature Preserve and view where the Rocky Mountains meet shortgrass prairie from 4,973 feet above sea level. Allow time for the 16-mile round trip hike, which features distinct elevation changes and stunning views, and make sure to bring plenty of water.
Rest: After a hearty ranch meal, turn the covers down in your Hoot Owl Ranch guestroom for a restful night under the spacious Oklahoma sky.
Whether it’s your first time exploring a cave or your hundredth, you’ll always find something new when you enter Alabaster Caverns State Park in Freedom. Colorful lighting shows off the brilliant natural beauty in this famous gypsum cave, which is the largest in the world open to the public. Check in with the park office before you climb down into one of four undeveloped caves on property – items such as a hard hat, light sources and first-aid kit are required.
Fuel: Head to Stables Steakhouse & Lodge in Freedom for mouthwatering hamburgers, plates of tasty fried catfish and homemade pie.
Rest: Tent camp or park your RV within the state park.
Those who tire of exploring the natural world on dry land can dip into the exciting waters of Lake Tenkiller to find a whole new place to discover. Dive 80-feet under the lake’s crystal clear water to find rocky cliffs, as well as sunken planes, boats and vehicles. Access to the diving area can be found at Fisherman’s Point within Tenkiller State Park. Also, Nautical Adventures Scuba, the area’s premier scuba and snorkeling store, offers equipment rental as well as scuba classes.
Fuel: Jincy’s Kitchen in nearby Qualls will satisfy your hunger with pan-friend chicken and hot rolls, while Soda Steve’s in Gore is known for huge burgers, onion rings and floats with homemade root beer.
Rest: A 1950s-era motor court along the lake’s shoreline has been reborn as Blue Doors at Tenkiller, a charming resort where you can rent a kayak, sit in a teepee and pick vegetables and melons from a community garden before resting your head in a cozy cabin.
Grab a shovel and head to Jet to start digging for your favorite souvenir at Great Salt Plains State Park. This park is home to a natural phenomenon you won’t find anywhere else. Hourglass-shaped crystals form under the massive salt plains in this park and diggers love to seek out these unique crystals. Make your way to the park during the annual digging season (April 1 – October 15) and ask the park staff for their popular crystal digging tips before heading out to the salt flats.
Fuel: Take a short drive to the nearby ghost town of Ingersoll to enjoy Oklahoma barbecue at Smok-Shak. People drive for miles to indulge in slow-smoked ribs and brisket piled high on homemade buns.
Rest: Stay at a charming, eco-friendly cabin within Great Salt Plains State Park and enjoy kitchen amenities as well as wildlife watching from picnic tables. Pets are accepted for a small fee.
The scenic Illinois River, which features serene water rippling over ancient flint rock, invites visitors to enjoy its natural beauty from rafts, canoes or kayaks. Watch sunfish swim alongside you as mild rapids take you on a float trip through some of the most delightful scenery in the state near Tahlequah. Several outfitters are located along the river banks for convenient equipment and lodging rentals.
Fuel: Settle into a patio seat at Drip before sinking your teeth into a tasty crepe and indulging in a refreshing smoothie or cup of coffee, or head over to Sam & Ella’s Chicken Palace for hearty, topping-heavy slices of pizza.
Rest: Check into a yurt at Elephant Rock Nature Park and enjoy features like air conditioning, a bathroom and full kitchen with stellar views of the river winding through the surrounding Ozark woodlands.
Oklahoma is full of surprises and Little Sahara State Park is no exception. This desert landscape, which encompasses over 1,600 acres of sand dunes, is known as one of the best ATV riding destinations in the Midwest. Whether you bring your own dune buggy or rent one from a private dealer off-site, you’ll have a blast flying over the dunes.
Fuel: Indulge in a tasty burger topped with fried ham or load up on fried catfish and mouthwatering hushpuppies at the Hometown Café in downtown Waynoka. For dinner Thursday- Sunday nights, you can’t beat Café Bahnhof for German favorites.
Rest: Ride your ATV or dune buggy right from the park to your room at Trails Inn Suites & Motel in Waynoka. Take your pick from a cozy guest room with a kitchenette or book a two-to-three-bedroom apartment for extra space.
Head to the Boathouse District in Oklahoma City for an adventure on the Oklahoma River. OKC Riversport Adventures sets up experienced and novice paddlers with lessons and gear for traditional kayaking as well as paddle boarding, long boarding and dragon boating. While there, don’t miss a chance to scale the 80-ft. SkyTrail, an adventure course with over six levels of challenges, America’s tallest slide and a free-fall jump.
Rest: The fun never stops on this outdoor adventure with a stay at Hampton Inn & Suites Bricktown. Located close to the river, check into this hotel and enjoy the on-site miniature indoor waterpark.
Get your adrenaline pumping at Hogan’s Off Road Park, the perfect playground for any ATV or ORV. Explore rocky terrain complete with water obstacles and natural features at this one-of-a-kind park. Whether riding a dirt bike or steering a rock crawler, you’ll have a blast traversing over five square miles of trails and rock structures right next to the neighboring dam spillway.
Fuel: Travel to The Artichoke Restaurant & Bar in Langley for amazing steaks, chicken and seafood. This unique eatery is located in a century-old farmhouse surrounded by gardens where they grow and serve their own produce.
Rest: A stay at Southern Oaks Resort & Spa guarantees much more than a private room and a cozy bed. Stay up late to take advantage of the sparkling swimming pool, horseshoe pit and volleyball court for endless fun.
Set sail and soar over 500-ft. above the tranquil waters of Grand Lake on a single or tandem parasailing ride with Sail Grand Waterfront. While parasailing is one of the most thrilling things you can experience at Sail Grand, this one-stop destination has everything you could ever want for fun on the water. Load up the family on a pontoon, board a luxury yacht or hit the waves on a jet ski.
Fuel: Pull your boat right up to the patio at Tera Miranda Harbor & Resort’s Quarterdeck Waterfront Café and indulge in an onion ring tower and hearty hamburger before hitting the water again.
Rest: Stay in one of the quaint properties at the Cottages at Big Hollow and you’ll enjoy complimentary use of a paddleboat, canoe and floats for the ultimate lake experience, as well as stunning Grand Lake sunsets from your own private balcony.
These ideas for zipping, sailing and paddling across Oklahoma should keep you busy for awhile. But when you catch your breath, we've got even more extreme adventure and outdoor recreation ideas waiting for you.