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10 Surreally Scenic Drives in Oklahoma

Whether it is a short trip with friends to blow off some steam or a weekend getaway with your family, long drives through scenic routes have always been on our bucket lists. And the state of Oklahoma provides you with the perfect opportunity to tick this one off! Read on to know more about some breathtaking Oklahoma byways that you can traverse the next time you’re there.

Scenic Drives in Oklahoma

1.  Wichita Mountains Byway

Mt Scott Oklahoma

Scenic Highways Oklahoma Wichita Mountains Oklahoma

Beginning at the small town of Elgin in southwest Oklahoma, the byway of the 550 million-year-old Wichita Mountains ends at Lost Lake, leading up to the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge wherein Theodore Roosevelt initiated the bison preservation act. Interestingly, the refuge comprises of over 50 kinds of mammals, 64 species of reptiles and 24 types of birds, roaming about freely in the area.

The route is a home to an assortment of alluring landscapes ranging from grasslands, aquatic regions, the ancient cross timbers to rocky terrains, giving you ample opportunities to stop and admire the view while letting your camera run wild. One of the top tourist attractions of Oklahoma, you may also encounter innumerable buffaloes, and longhorn cattle in the course of your travel.

While you’re there, make it a point to visit Turkey Creek Prairie Dog Town for the black-tailed prairie dogs. You could also make a stop at the Medicine Park which has a variety of recreational activities in the offing including lodging, hiking, a mountain biking festival, besides fishing and kayaking at the creek. It even features the Red Door Gallery showcasing the works of regional and local artists.

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2. Talimena Scenic Drive

Talimena Drive Oklahoma

Talimena Scenic Drive Oklahoma Ouachita National Forest Oklahoma

The most famous scenic drive of Oklahoma, the 54- mile Talimena Scenic Byway from Talihina, Oklahoma to Mena, Arkansas, offers the easiest access and the best view of the 352,000-acre Ouachita National Forest through which it passes. The quintessential fall foliage drive provides for a serene presentation of the rocky land with a bounteous wildlife. The sight of the fresh greenery on the hills, particularly in autumn, or the ice-capped oak and maple trees in the winter are enchanting.

The route gives access to multiple recreational activities including mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, as well as camping in the Horsethief Springs Trail. You could also take some time off from driving to relax at Cedar Lake National Recreation Area by fishing for catfish and bass.

Since there are few gas stations along the serpentine lane, make sure you’re leaving with a full tank of gas.

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3. Route 66

Route 66 Scenery Oklahoma

Pops Route 66 Oklahoma Oklahoma Motorcycle Scenic Drives

The scenic Route 66 from Quapaw to Texola encompasses 400 miles of lovely Oklahoma countryside. As you cover this vast stretch, you could pay a visit to the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum, featuring historical tales about Route 66, or stop by the plethora of eateries with simple dishes on the platter.

While on ‘The Mother Road’, you will also encounter a 1925 railroad framework, the 1921 Rock Creek Bridge, and the legendary Rock café built in 1936, which has its walls adorned with rocks from when the original Route 66 was excavated. Moving west, you will come across Arcadia: The Round Barn, and the legendary POPS, a gas station with a 66-foot high soda bottle sculpture weighing 4 tons, having multi-colored LED lighting as an embellishment.

This route is ideal for motorcycling enthusiasts for it comprises of the Seaba Station Motorcycle Museum along with the Route 66 Vintage Iron Motorcycle Museum, which houses an impressive range of antique Evel Knievel merchandise.

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4. Cherokee Hills Byway

Oklahoma Road Trips

Best Roads in America Ozark Mountains Oklahoma

The 88-mile long Cherokee Hills Byway along the Ozark Mountains in northeast Oklahoma display diverse terrains including exuberant vegetation in Cherokee, Delaware, Adair, and Sequoyah Counties. It presents a panoramic view of bluish-gray flint stone hills topped with rich greenery encasing the Illinois River and Lake Tenkiller.

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5. Mountain Gateway Scenic Byway

Scenic Road Oklahoma

Best Scenic Drives in US Glover River Oklahoma

The winding route of the Mountain Gateway Scenic Byway across the dense forests and steep hills spans 22 miles along Highway 59. The two-lane road adjacent to the state line of Arkansas has some incredibly sharp, low visibility bends and steep slopes. Passing through the town aptly named Heavener, this route is saturated with picturesque sights of Ouachita Mountains, Winding Stair Recreation Area, Black Fork, Mountain Fork as well as the tranquil waterways of Glover River. The view of the 2,600 feet high hills combined with the wildflowers of spring, or even the charming tangerine hues of autumn are too awe-inspiring to miss out on.

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6.  Mountain Pass Scenic Byway

Winding Stair Recreation Area Oklahoma

Kerr Nature Center Oklahoma Scenic Drives South East Oklahoma

The 23 mile long Mountain Pass Scenic Byway in southeast Oklahoma between Page and Octavia crosses the 26,445-acre Winding Stair Recreation area while providing an unbelievable view of the Ouachita Mountains. You can also pitch a tent in any of the campgrounds in the area to devour the glorious beauty of the valleys and plantations, or even hike through Kerr Arboretum to learn about the various terrains on a single mountain range.

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7. Quartz Mountain State Park

Quartz Mountain State Park Oklahoma

Lake Althaus Oklahoma Scenic Drive Oklahoma

Spanning from Altus to Lone Wolf, this 27-mile drive features a peek into the towns of Blair as well as Lugert, the latter being adjacent to the magnificent Lake Althaus where you can stop by for a swim, a boat ride or an afternoon of fishing to relax with. The lake is cradled by the Quartz Mountain range which stays true to its name with its quartz sediments gleaming in and reflecting sunlight. However, the height of the range has reduced from 20,000 feet to 2,040 feet owing to erosion.

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8. Route 8 State Parks

Red Rock Canyon Oklahoma

Scenic Drives Oklahoma Roman Nose State Park Oklahoma

Dating back to 1924 and spanning over a length of 179 miles, the scenic State Highway 8 is riddled with myriad canyons and cliffs. Start your journey with a trip to Roman Nose State Park and soak in the therapeutic waters of any of its three natural springs. The park provides a marvelous view with its redbud flowers, Eastern red cedar tree, and Indian blossom tree. The best way to conclude the trip is to take a hike through the spectacular trails of Red Rock Canyon State Park.

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9.   Highway 325

Beautiful Road Oklahoma

Black Mesa State Park Oklahoma Scenic Road Trips Oklahoma

From Boise City to Kenton, Highway 325 heading northwest along the Oklahoma Panhandle is a beauty to behold with its rugged terrains on either side. En route, you will also come across Black Mesa State Park, the highest point in the state with its tallest peak standing at an altitude of 5, 239 feet.

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10. Highway 10, Tahlequah

Most Scenic Drives in America

Oklahoma Fall Foliage Illinois River Oklahoma

The long scenic route between Tahlequah and Muskogee along the serene embankments of the Illinois River is as well known for its curvy, low visibility turns as it is for its captivating view of mighty cliffs and lush greenery.

The banks of Illinois River provide ample opportunities for float trips in canoes, inflatable rafts or even kayaks. You should also visit the Cherokee Heritage Center for a peek into native Indian culture or even the renowned Fort Gibson Historic Site, the first army outpost of the Indian Territory with 29 buildings from the period still intact. Another attraction for hikers, bikers, and rock climbers is the Camp Gruber Recreation Area, located south of Braggs. Once you reach the end of the route, browse through the splendid wilderness and golf course of Greenleaf State Park.

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So without further ado, pack your bags and discover the stunning locales of Oklahoma enlivened with fall and foliage, mountains and rivers that are absolutely worth a visit.

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