Natural wonders abound in lush, serene Choctaw Country, where outdoor adventurers will always find new things to explore. There are miles of hiking trails snaking through peaceful forests, crystal-clear rivers and shining lakes, and plenty of scenic spots to pitch your tent for the night.
Here are a few can't-miss state parks, lakes, and museums in Southeastern Oklahoma's Choctaw Country that are brimming with beautiful scenery and historic charm.
The journey begins at Beavers Bend State Park, where there's truly something for every type of outdoorsy traveler. Located on the banks of the Mountain Fork River and the majestic Broken Bow Lake, Beavers Bend offers outdoor recreation in the form of hiking, biking, nature trails, mini-golf, horseback riding, hayrides, and golf. And those who love water are in luck — Broken Bow Lake is the ideal place to canoe, kayak (or do a combo of the two: the yakanoe!), fly fish, sail, rent a houseboat, scuba dive, or swim at the roped-off swimming beach. In terms of lodging, take your pick from luxury cabins, RV and tent campsites, and the Lakeview Lodge, a 40-room lakeside retreat with stunning views.
Hugo Lake State Park is another glorious natural destination to hole up at for the weekend. There's a small shop in the park that sells fishing licenses and gear, a marina that has bike and boat rentals, and tons of hiking trails along the border between Hugo Lake and the state park. Lodging includes a hospitality house, primitive and resort cabins, and tent camping. Meanwhile, nearby Sardis Lake boasts excellent fishing, swimming, and boating.
Over a century ago, legendary Old West outlaws hid out in the caves at Robber’s Cave State Park, and today, the park is home to over 20 miles of hiking trails, more than 70 equestrian trails, a nature center, a mini-golf course, and lots of outdoor programming, including cave tours, canoe tours, guided hikes, cane pole fishing, and more.
Take a leisurely drive along the gorgeous Talimena Scenic Drive, which spans the rolling Ouachita Mountains along the border of Arkansas and Oklahoma, and you'll encounter rugged curves, breathtaking vistas, and historic sites and towns. In the spring, this is one of the best spots to see fields of candy-colored wildflowers, while the rich, golden beauty of fall is truly a sight to behold.
The Heavener Runestone Park is home to the Heavener Runestone, a mystery-shrouded rock with ancient carvings on it that are said to be of Viking runes. Apart from the runestone, the 55-acre park has verdant hiking trails, picnic areas, a playground, scenic overlooks, and primitive campsites.
For a non-outdoorsy treat, downtown Poteau (which was selected as one of the "100 Best Small Towns in America") offers several delights, including historic buildings, gift shops, cafes, clothing boutiques, and charming street facades that date back to pioneer days.
And the Choctaw National Capitol Museum in Tvshka Homma is a must-visit for history buffs — listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this noteworthy museum is chock-full of fascinating exhibits on the Trail of Tears and Choctaw culture, history, and family life.