Oklahoma National Parks
Oklahoma has a rich Native American heritage along with beautiful landscapes and some hidden gems. Come #FindYourPark in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma National Parks
Chickasaw National Recreation Area
Chickasaw National Recreation Area is one of the few parks that used to carry a National Park designation but no longer does. The park began as Sulphur Springs Reservation in 1902 and was re-designated to Platt National Park in 1906. In 1962, the park was once again changed to Arbuckle National Recreation Area, and in 1976 became Chickasaw National Recreation Area.
Water is the primary attraction in the park, and Little Niagara Falls is its most famous attraction. Other activities in the park include hiking and wildlife viewing, while boating, water skiing, and canoeing are popular at nearby Lake of the Arbuckles. With the Arbuckle Mountains as a backdrop, Chickasaw National Recreation Area is a beautiful park to explore any time of year.
Fort Smith National Historic Site - AR, OK
Fort Smith was established on Christmas Day in 1817, was eventually converted into a Federal Courthouse, and was finally decommissioned in 1896. In its early years, the Fort served as a home and barracks for the U.S. Army. In its later years, Fort Smith had Federal jurisdiction over Indian Territory and modern-day Oklahoma.
Today, visitors can explore Belle Point (site of the first Fort Smith), the Trail of Tears Overlook and River Walk, and stand on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, the Commissary and Second Fort Smith Grounds, and the Historic Barracks/Courthouse/Jail Buildings where the Visitor Center is also located.
Oklahoma City National Memorial
The Oklahoma City Memorial stands on the site where the Alfred P. Murrah Building once stood before it was tragically bombed and so many lost their lives on April 19, 1995. The Memorial includes the Outdoor Symbolic Memorial and the Memorial Museum. The Symbolic Memorial is a place of reflection. Walk around and enjoy the beauty and quiet of the reflecting pool and read the story of the Survivor Tree as you look out onto the grounds.
The Memorial Museum takes guests through the anxious highs and tragic lows of what Oklahomans and the nation were feeling during that time, and shines a light on the unselfish heroes who rose up and inspired us with their selfless acts. Although it may be emotionally difficult to visit, it's worth your time and is very well done.
Read our post for more information on visiting the Memorial and other things to do in Oklahoma City.
Santa Fe National Historic Trail - CO, KS, MO, NM, OK
The Santa Fe National Historic Trail runs from Western Missouri to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and passes through the states of Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, and New Mexico. Since 1821 the trail was a major thoroughfare for goods, but by 1880, the trail had become obsolete due to the Santa Fe Railroad line built between Kansas City and Santa Fe. With thirty sites along the trail to get a passport stamp, there are plenty of stops to learn the stories and history of this famous old-west 'highway'.
Trail of Tears National Historic Trail - AL, AR, GA, IL, KY, MO, NC, OK, TN
The Trail of Tears National Historic Trail commemorates the forceful removal of the Cherokees from their homes in Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama to Indian Territory in Oklahoma. States participating the the Trail are Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. More than 16,000 Cherokee were relocated between 1838 and 1839, and the trail documents their stories of suffering, illness, and death, but also preserves their routes and important sites along the Trail.
Washita Battlefield National Historic Site
Washita Battlefield National Historic Site commemorates and interprets the attack by the U.S. 7th Cavalry led by Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer on the Cheyenne encampment of Peace Chief Black Kettle in 1868. It tells the story of the increasingly tense relations between whites and Native Americans during this time, and illustrates the heightened reluctance of tribes to give up their native lands and be forced into life on the reservation.
Guests can tour the Visitor Center, visit the park overlook, and walk the trails around the site to the nearby Washita River and the encampment. The overlook and trail are open daily from dawn to dusk. A walking trail down to the site of Chief Black Kettle's village begins at the overlook. The Park Service has also partnered with the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes to create a native garden that showcases plants significant for their spiritual and practical uses.