ADVENTURE BLACK BOOK
Oklahoma Today|March/April 2021
How do you feel most alive? Whether your adrenaline rushes come from death-defying feats, unusual journeys, or one-of-a-kind meals, these fifty-one Oklahoma spots will have you living life to its fullest all year long.

Northwestern OKLAHOMA

AT BLACK MESA State Park & Nature Preserve, thrillseekers can commune with the sky at the highest point in Oklahoma. If the trek to the top of the mesa doesn’t get your blood pumping, spotting a golden eagle above or dinosaur tracks left millions of years ago should do the trick. (580) 426-2222 or TravelOK.com/blackmesa

Treasure awaits visitors to Oklahoma’s saltiest spot. At Great Salt Plains State Park, fish, swim, boat, or kayak through the lake, ride horses or bikes along miles of trails, then recharge in one of six cozy cabins. From April to October at the Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge, an alien landscape beckons families hoping to dig up the only hourglass selenite crystals found on Earth. Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge, (580) 626-4794 or fws. gov/refuge/salt_plains. Salt Plains State Park, (580) 626-4731 or TravelOK.com/saltplains

Imaginations run wild at Leonardo’s Children’s Museum in Enid. From a shop that lets kids use real tools to a mini medical clinic and a three-story castle playground complete with an area to dig up dinosaur bones, this creative destination allows children of all ages to learn a little and laugh a lot. (580) 233-2787 or leonardos.org

For history buffs, Shooting Star History in Hitchcock is a dream come true. At their farm, Doug and Marna Jean Davis teach classes on how to craft parasols, bonnets, and other Victorian accouterments; bring figures like Annie Oakley and Teddy Roosevelt to life through living history programs; and introduce guests to a menagerie of longhorn cattle, sheep, and rabbits. Open by appointment only. (580) 623-0126 or shootingstarhistory.net

The open road has nothing on Little Sahara State Park in Waynoka. With more than 1,600 square miles of sandy dunes, ATV adventurers and dirt bike daredevils can fulfill their need for speed as they race to the top of hills as high as seventy-five feet. (580) 824-1471 or TravelOK.com/littlesahara

Few things get the heart racing like a good mystery, and the Nightmare in the Country Escape has two waiting to be solved. In Woodward’s one-of-a-kind escape rooms, teams must work together to discover the whereabouts of missing teen Bobby Gene or unlock the secret of The Lost Chamber if they hope to get out in time. Open Saturdays or by appointment only. (580) 254-3944 or nitcescape.com

BLAST OFF!

Jetpacks and space cruises are a distant dream, but Oklahoma has plenty of opportunities to explore the final frontier without ever leaving the ground. The Ames Astrobleme Museum (580/753-4624) in Ames shows how an asteroid crashed into northeastern Oklahoma 450 million years ago. At Kenton’s annual Okie-Tex Star Party (okie-tex.com), skygazers will see more stars than they thought possible. The Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium (918/934-9900 or tulsamuseum. org) and the Kirkpatrick Planetarium (405/602-6664 or sciencemuseumok.com) in Oklahoma City take visitors on a tour of the cosmos. And at the Stafford Air & Space Museum in Weatherford (580/772-5871 or staffordmuseum.org), explorers can check out actual Titan II launch vehicles and Stafford’s Apollo 10 flown space suit.

Southwestern OKLAHOMA

FOR THOSE LOOKING to experience the Wichita Mountains’ scenic beauty from the side of a cliff-face, Tony Mayse is the go-to guy. This former U.S. Marine has done multiple one-day ascents of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park and has climbed all over the world. Since 1993, he has introduced scores of Oklahomans to the sport with his Guide For a Day service in Lawton. guideforaday.com

The Wichitas present some of the state’s best terrain for mountain biking, and Basecamp Adventure Outfitters in Medicine Park, which has operated in the picturesque resort town since 2013, is a great starting point. With trail updates, group activities, and supplies for sale or rent—from bikes, kayaks, and paddleboards and guide services—Basecamp will make sure you’re ready. (580) 574-8955 or facebook.com/ basecampmedicinepark

The word adventure doesn’t have to be synonymous with outside. Enjoy a waterslide fantasia any time of year at Clinton’s Water-Zoo Indoor Water Park, where a constant eighty-six-degree indoor temperature and adrenaline-pumping attractions like four-story water slides and a wave pool will have your family screaming with delight—and a little fear—all day long. (580) 323-9966 or water-zoo.com

Despite its name, one of the defining features of Great Plains State Park is its breathtaking views of the Wichita Mountains. Visitors to this four-hundred-acre wonderland can go rock climbing on enormous boulders; hiking or biking on the park’s trail system; exploring the ruins of the Gold Bells Mine (watch out for rattlesnakes); or fishing, skiing, and swimming in Tom Steed Lake. Tent and RV campsites are available for those who want to make a weekend of it. (580) 569-2032 or TravelOK.com/state-parks/ great-plains-state-park

At Fortress of Faith Adventures in Hastings, visitors pick up skills like horseback riding, cheese making, goat milking, and more. But the fun doesn’t stop there; in addition to overnight stays, Fortress of Faith offers a range of experiences from guided hunts along the Red River to wildcrafting to that ultimate of anxiety inducers: date night. (940) 733-5141 or fortressoffaithadventures.com

HEY, DUDE!

Adventure is part of Okie DNA, which is probably why the state has produced so many famous astronauts, athletes, and adrenaline junkies. But to find one’s true Okie-ness, a visit to a guest ranch is a must. Oklahoma guest ranches offer a wide range of experiences and can accommodate any guest’s comfort level. Whether you’re seeking a more Diet Cowpoke experience—think luxury cabins and an on-staff massage therapist at A to Z Guest Ranch (580/2443729 or atozguestranch.com) in the mountainous reaches of Smithville in southeastern Oklahoma or fine dining and cooking classes at Buffalo Creek Guest Ranch (877/527-4207 or buffalocreekguestranch.com) near Talihina—or a true authentic working vacation complete with cattle drives, stagecoach rides, and overnight trail excursions like the ones at Hitching Post Lodging and Ranch (580/5161213 or hitchingpostlodging. com) near Kenton, the state’s authentic cowboys and cowgirls have you covered. Sooner State ranching families have centuries of experience and old-school know-how at their disposal. Book a guest-ranch stay and soak it all in for the ultimate taste of Western adventure.

South-Central OKLAHOMA

FOR MORE THAN twenty years, own-ers Pete and Cheri Wolfe have welcomed tenderfoots to the world of horseback riding with Arbuckle Trail Rides. Saddle up for one to four hours of exploration in the Chickasaw National Recreation Area, across Wolfe Ranch, and throughout other large private ranches. (580) 993-0097 or arbuckletrailrides.com

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