In Choctaw Country, the lush foliage of forested state parks provides miles of shaded canopy for hiking and camping. The majestic lakes and clear rivers beckon with opportunities for swimming, water sports, fishing and floating. Luxury cabins, furnished yurts, and dozens of RV sites provide a safe haven from the Summer sun. (And for those interested in sleeping under the stars, designated camping areas abound.)
Here, we present to you three beautiful state parks of Choctaw Country—and how to enjoy them while staying cool this summer.
Beavers Bend State Park
Beavers Bend State Park is an idyllic summer getaway for every kind of vacationer. Family trips, weekend getaways, class reunions, corporate retreats—Beavers Bend accommodates groups of all sizes and interests. Secluded luxury cabins dot the area, providing a comfortable home base at the end of each day. Adults can enjoy a refreshing beer or glass of wine from one of the local breweries or wineries in nearby Hochatown, while children can get lost in the heavenly sights and smells of the local candy shops.
Broken Bow Lake runs deep through much of the park, with 180 miles of shoreline, 14,000 surface acres, and countless activities. Water ski or jet ski, party on a barge or lounge on the shore, canoe or kayak, fish or float—virtually anything you’d want to do on the water is game. Our personal favorite? Scuba diving. Submerge in the deep and observe the colorful, varied underwater wildlife—including, if you’re lucky, freshwater jellyfish.
The connecting Mountain Fork River appeals to adrenaline junkies and Zen masters alike—experience a roiling adventure kayaking the river’s wild white waters or spend a day meditating in the serene shallows while you fly fish for trout.
Robbers Cave State Park
Robbers Cave State Park earned its name over a century ago, when noted Old West outlaws like Belle Starr, Jesse James and the Dalton Gang took cover from justice in the nooks and crannies of the area’s otherworldly caves. Walk in the footsteps of those infamous giants and find a spot to lay your head at a nearby cabin, one of 80 RV sites, or one of the 86 primitive camping options along the park’s secluded trail. Or, bask in the primitive luxury of a furnished yurt with a deck overlooking the water.
Make a splash in Lake Wayne Wallace or cast a line in Coon Creek. Paddle boat with the kiddos across breathtaking Lake Carlton, then ride horseback along the shoreline. Rent a bicycle for the day, go on an ATV excursion, rappel the area cliffs, or play a relaxing game of disc golf. Rarely crowded, Robbers Cave promises peace, quiet and adventure.
Lake Wister State Park
Considered the gateway to the Ouachita National Forest, Lake Wister State Park skirts the edge of the Oklahoma/Arkansas border in LeFlore County and has a little bit of everything. Lodging options run the gamut from 15 rustic cabins to over 100 RV sites. Hunters can venture into the Wister Wildlife Management Area while students of history will be fascinated by the prehistoric mounds, where Native Americans thrived as part of the Caddoan Mississippian Culture. Leisure-seeking families and friends can play miniature golf on the park’s course, and serious hikers can follow a six-mile self-guided trail into the secluded wilderness.
And then there’s Lake Wister itself—115 miles of winding, verdant shoreline where visitors can wade into the cool, clear water, whether to swim, float, fish or ski. Families of little ones who might not be ready to step into the lake will be relieved to find the Wister Spray Park nearby, where children (and adults, for that matter) can go bonkers while cooling off and enjoying the lake’s mist in a safe, controlled environment.