I wanted to take a minute to remind everyone about the importance of travel. Let me first say that traveling can easily be done on a budget; this in turn will hopefully encourage many of the young couples at the church and singles, or even youth, to consider what I have to say.
We have a majestic world that God has created for us. The state in which we all currently reside has grandeur beyond measure. Some of it can be found locally, but most of it is outside of the metropolitan area. Recently, I decided that I wanted my children to see as many state and national parks as possible before they graduated. Part of my reasoning for this is that it gets my entire family away from daily stresses. Television, phone (or other devices) get limited time and instead, we can focus on each other and the beautiful world God has created. Here are some of my favorites:
Great Salt Plains – Jet, OK
There isn’t much to the town, but the state park is fantastic. You can stay in the park cabins, which are clean, for under $100 a night. They have a lake, but my favorite part was the crystal digging. It is believed that a sea once inhabited the area. After subsiding, it left a large deposit of salt in the ground, which crystalizes and leaves awesome treasures for kids and adults alike.
Tenkiller State Park – Vian, OK
There is a Nature Center for kids to explore and during the summer months the park rangers will host events for kids like nature exhibits and marshmallow roasts. The lake is beautiful and the area is one of the most scenic parts of the state. Above the lake you can float the river for a day of relaxation and passive enjoyment. Below the lake you can fish for trout in the Lower Illinois River, one of only two year-round trout fisheries in the state.
Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge – Indiahoma, OK
Elk and buffalo are left to roam freely on the range. Where else can you be driving and have to stop because a buffalo simply won’t move? This last Fall, I took my Karsten with several other fathers and their sons for a campout. It is a cheap and simple way to enjoy nature. You can climb to the top of Mount Scott, one of the highest points in Oklahoma. There are several lakes; nearby is Medicine Park, which I have not visited, but plan to before too long. Further, you can drive to the nearby town of Meers for arguably the best burger in the state.
Beavers Bend State Park – Hochatwon, OK
To me, this is the most beautiful part of my beloved state. It seems to me that everyone who visits here cannot believe they are in Oklahoma. You can camp by the Lower Mountain Fork River, the second of two year-round trout fisheries in the state. The trout fishing is pristine and resembles something you would see in Colorado or Arkansas. Nearby Broken Bow lake is famous for producing the biggest largemouth bass in the state. Just outside of the park are two excellent places to eat, both of which seem out of place. Also, there is a local winery where you can shop for gifts or just enjoy a tasting session. If you feel like staying in a cabin, the area boasts hundreds, which can cater to those on a budget, spending an anniversary weekend away, or those that can accommodate large families and groups.
Yellowstone National Park – Various parts of Wyoming and Montana
I had to add at least one place outside of the state. You could travel and explore the park for a month and not even see it all. Wildlife roams freely and visitors can see wolves, elk, and bears among others. The sites compare to nothing else I have ever seen. Whether you are there to fish (which is excellent) or just enjoy the scenery, Yellowstone will not disappoint. Here, campsites have to be arranged far in advance. They also offer several cabins, a lodge, and just outside of the park at various points, there are several hotels and cabins. You’ll understand first-hand why Teddy Roosevelt commissioned this park.
Hopefully, you will find at least one place on this list and allow yourself the benefit of travel and relaxation this summer or soon thereafter. Next up on my list for the summer is Little Niagara. Even if you have visited all of these places, find another one, or revisit those you have already frequented and allow God to bless your soul with the land He created. Have another idea of a great place our state has to offer? Share it!