Nature Experience #13 – Oklahoma’s Beavers Bend

Am I still in Oklahoma? This thought had to have been in the front of my mind the first time I ever made it down to the rugged forested land in the southeastern corner of Oklahoma, the corner that is close to Texas and to Louisiana as well as Arkansas.

There, in the midst of the Ouachita National Forest and the Kiamichi Mountains, near the McCurtain County Wilderness Area,  lies a magical place on Lake Broken Bow known as Beavers Bend State Park. Many mornings, I woke to find fog on the lake outside my window, and a glimpse of a beautiful scene of water, sky and forest straight from a fairy tale sketch book. Whether staying in the Lakeview Lodge, or in one of the 45 log cabins right on the river, the sound – and sight – of water is never far away.

A great place for a family vacation, WATER is the word. Ski boats, jet skis, paddle boats, kayaks and canoes, get you out on the blue waters of the lake or the rushing water of the Mountain Fork River below the Lake’s dam. Hike on the shorelines, ride horseback, or fish for trout. Minitature golf and an 18-hole golf course provide options for everbody! 

A unique feature of this state park is the Forest Heritage Center. Visitors can learn about the 33 native tree species found in Oklahoma, and about the timber industry in the Ouachita Forest. (What type of wood is best used to make a bow and arrow? a baseball bat? a chair?)

A short adjacent nature trail provides a unique opportunity to actually see how these various trees are different. Examine their leaves and view their bark, as well as the nuts they drop in the fall or the seeds they fling out into the world in the spring.

A nature center near the river is an adventure in itself, with a small zoo of injured birds and animals for closeup viewing. Picnic tables are plentiful with wide lawn space for croquet or badmitton or just congregating. Then, find a quiet spot to watch the birds. You may be rewarded by a show of red as any number of woodpeckers, including the pileated (like Woody) woodpecker, fly from tree to tree in search of just the right bug for supper.

One family trip to Beavers Bend found us hiking the trails up to bluffs that overlook the river, and then, later, plunging into the roaring stream in a kayak, only to find ourselves floating serenely on a wide pool of water, paddling through shadowed water among the knobby knees of a bald cypress tree.  A horseback ride, two rounds of miniature golf, and a weiner roast outside our cabin, and the six of us were ready to hit the sack. Exhausted, happy.

And eight hours later, ready to get up and do it all again.

Beavers Bend State Park remains on my list of the best places to visit in the whole WORLD!

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