There aren’t a lot of state, national or even county parks near Oklahoma City. We spent an afternoon at a lake south of town, Lake Stanley Draper, and found that it was more of a marina than an actual park. There were few hikes listed on our trail app and even fewer green areas on google maps, so one warm weekend we headed about 80 miles away to Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge outside Lawson Oklahoma.
Oklahoma is as flat as you would imagine (in general) until you get to the Wichita Mountain Range on the west side of the state. We didn’t know what to expect of midwest mountains, but when we arrived in the park we were impressed. Of course they weren’t the Rocky Mountains, or even the Smoky Mountains, but they were actually quite cool in their own right.
The first marked turn-off in the park goes to the top of Mt Scott. Naturally in the flat terrain around a mountain like has to just pop up out of nowhere – no time for gradual elevation here, so the only way up is a steep winding road with an increasingly impressive view of the surrounding valley and range. In the distance the horizon is lined with wind turbines, in the foreground, giant boulders, cactus and enough juniper for a gin factory.
After our long drive to the park, then the climb up Mt Scott, we were on our way down and nearly to the main road, ready for an afternoon of hikes..when…the truck stopped running. Luckily we were already down the steep part of the hill and had just shifted from 3rd into drive or both power steering and power brakes going out a hill could have been a disaster. We came to a stop just before the stop sign at the bottom and naturally we tried to restart. Nothing happened again and again until we had no choice but to call our insurance and get a tow. Unfortunately, we were 80 miles from home so we would have to get towed into the nearest town and get a rental car.
After waiting a couple hours in the middle of the road, watching car clubs and tourists alike speed around and past, the tow truck driver showed up. We had the truck taken to the local Ford dealership. Since it was a Saturday evening by then we would have to wait til Monday before they could even look at it. We took a taxi to the airport, rented a car and pouted for most the drive home.
However! We didn’t let it stop us from going back a couple weekends later with Sherlock, where she went on her first hike and we finally saw a bison and some “wild” Longhorn cows. We went on three hikes total, over some 100 year old dams, next to some marshy creeks and we were even followed by a bison who just happened to be headed the same direction (luckily no Sherlock on that hike).
Although our first attempt at seeing the park was mostly a failure, we didn’t let it deter us from seeing this great Oklahoma Gem. I wish some of these farming states had set aside more places like this rather than clearing so much land for farming and development. At least what there is, although far apart, is worth the drive.