Oklahoma tends not to get the credit it deserves. As one of the most underrated states in the nation, it's not uncommon for outsiders to overlook the many great experiences and locations that can be found for anyone willing to look. Whether you are a resident of Oklahoma looking for new adventures, or it's your first time visiting the state, here are 22 places you should consider visiting in Oklahoma during 2022.
Beavers Bend State Park is the perfect find in southeastern Oklahoma. One of the best parks that's well-known for its stunning scenery and crystal clear lake water. Visit the nearby town of Broken Bow for attractions like Forest Heritage Center Museum, Beavers Bend Brewery, and Beavers Bend Wildlife Museum.
Legendary for its fall foliage scenery, this 54-mile route, located on the eastern border of Oklahoma, takes you through the Talimena National Scenic Byway, Cedar Lake Recreation Area, and the Ouachita National Forest. With 22 stately vistas and several historic towns, this is a trip well worth driving.
At the foothills of the Arbuckle Mountains, right off of I-35, stop in and visit the Chickasaw National Recreation Area in Sulphur, Oklahoma. Famous for its natural and mineral springs, it's a cultural treasure. From here, take a short jaunt to the child-friendly Arbuckle Wilderness Park.
4. Oklahoma Panhandle (Western Oklahoma)
Located in the pan's handle, occupying the upper northwestern corner of Oklahoma sets 166 miles of breathtaking beauty. The backdrop of the Selenite mountains is hiker-worthy. Come see why the Gloss Mountains, also referred to as Glass Mountains, are said to mimic a shiny glass mirror.
Guthrie, Oklahoma, is one of the best small towns the state offers. Best known for its cultural values, its most prized possession is the Scottish Rite Temple, one of the largest Masonic temples worldwide. This historic town will leave guests relishing in the quaintness of small-town living.
A bird lover's paradise, J.T. Nickel Preserve offers uncommon breeding bird species. Located in the Ozarks, this unique Oklahoma preserve is well known for its high-quality rocky glades and pristine water quality delivered from spring-fed creeks. This preservation is privately protected. Their self-guided trails are open to the public and very well kept.
For a desert-like scenery full of sand dunes, visit Little Sahara State Park in Waynoka, Oklahoma. These 1,600 acres are full of vast dunes that have formed over time ranging from 25 to 75 feet in height. Rent a dune buggy or an ATV for the thrill of a lifetime riding experience.
This self-proclaimed "Heaven in the Hills" is located in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains. Lake Tenkiller is a scuba diver's paradise, situated deep in the heart of Oklahoma's woodlands with crystal-clear blue water and visibility from 8 to 28 feet. This lake paradise was built from the damming of the Illinois River.
If visiting the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, take a short trip to Medicine Park. Tourists will be enthralled with nature's finest outdoor beauty while visiting this cobblestone resort town. Here, travelers can hike, rappel, bike, fish, and camp while enjoying nature's spectacular scenic views from this small town in Medicine Park, Oklahoma.
Nestled in the upper eastern corner where Oklahoma borders Arkansas is the tallest waterfall in Oklahoma. Feeling adventurous? Let Oklahoma show off its finest scenery while glamping in a yurt while enjoying nature trails, volleyball, and golf at Natural Falls State Park.
The San Bois Mountains of Southeastern Oklahoma hide 12 miles of trails, caves, lakes, streams, and astonishing scenery at Robbers Cave State Park. Notorious outlaws such as Jesse James, Belle Star, and the Dalton gang sought refuge in Freedom, Oklahoma. You don't want to miss this 15-foot granite tribute to the cowboys that settled along the Cherokee Strip located along the Cimarron River.
Tucked away in the beautiful Arbuckle Mountains, just off of I35, is Turner Falls State Park. Stop by for a hot minute during the hottest summer months and enjoy the icy cold streams while sunbathing. This park features an impressive 77-foot waterfall, swimming holes, and lovely campsites making this an ideal retreat for families.
For the spelunker lovers, visit this 200-acre state park, which offers tours of nature's very own Alabaster Caverns. Oklahoma offers this diversion of the world's rarest and largest natural gypsum caves in the United States. This wild caving experience also provides the Selman Bat watch, an absolute must-see!
Weave your way through the Cookson Hills in northeastern Oklahoma on the Illinois River. One of Oklahoma's most popular destinations for river rafting. This outdoor sports lover's dream winds you through 60 miles of rocky bluffs and lush greenery from start to finish.
The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge is positioned in southwestern Oklahoma near Lawton. Embraced within is The Holy City, much like that of Israel's Biblical times, and it's just a hike away. Also, catch sight of the American bison herd that is roaming freely.
Visit one of America's top bass fishing lakes, right here in Grove, Oklahoma. Grand Lake sprawls out at 46,000-acres and contains five of Oklahoma's state parks. The small, once-booming mining community Picher, Oklahoma, and the historic Route 66, America's Main Street, is a short distance away.
18. Tallgrass Prairie Preserve (Pawhuska, Oklahoma)
The largest protected tallgrass prairie on Earth sits in Pawhuska, Oklahoma. Spanning 39,000-acres, this wildlife prairie hosts more than 2,000 bison. Pawhuska is the home of the Osage County Courthouse, which held the 1926 murder trial of Ernest Burkhart's where nearly 100 members of the Osage community, "Reign of Terror," were killed over their oil rights.
Visit the only spot in the world where you can dig for hourglass selenite crystals – Salt Plains State Park in Jet, Oklahoma. Once covered by an ancient ocean, this vast, barren array of salt plains spans 41-miles of shoreline of a salt lake filled with fishing opportunities for catfish, saugeye, sand bass, and hybrid striper.
Enjoy this natural 66.5-acre park where families can explore, learn, and play. This uniquely designed, one-of-a-kind hybrid park offers a vibrant outdoor and indoor space. The Gathering Place Discovery Lab lets children explore exhibits such as the Central Gallery, Math and Music, HydroLab, Ballapalooza, Rock It, and the Imaginarium.
One of Oklahoma's uniquely designed 224-foot long tropical conservatory displays two different climate zones, Tropical West and Tropical Dry zones. Crystal Bridge Conservatory is renowned worldwide and is located in the middle of the Myriad Botanical Gardens in Oklahoma City. Plan to stay through its Sunday night concerts and art exhibits at the Omni Hotel.
The Spiro people brought the Caddoan Mississippian culture to Spiro, Oklahoma sharing their elaborate rituals, pictographic writing system, and mound-building expertise. Becoming one of the first states to scientifically research archaeological sites, Oklahoma persevered this prehistoric Native American site after a mining company tore through sacral mounds destroying and selling off artifacts. The Spiro Mounds Archaeological Center preserves 150-acres, offering exhibits, interpreted trails, and a small gift shop.