Oklahoma is one of the greatest secret travel gems in the United States. Nobody seems to understand that this relaxed affordable state has large swaths of forested mountains in the east, sweeping grasslands in the center, and ranch-style desert in the western panhandle. Throughout it all are over 200 lakes and plenty of state parks where outdoor recreation is uncrowded and diverse.
The hiking, biking, fishing, and hunting in Oklahoma is fantastic, particularly in the eastern region where four mountain ranges provide ample variety for most outdoor enthusiasts. Oklahoma also has plenty of temporal recreation in its 70 or so casinos located on Native American tribal land. Moving between the distinct regions of the state is also a joy thanks to scenic byways and famous highways like Route 66.
Oklahoma may not have many rivers but it’s a lake-lover’s paradise with more than 200 large lakes just perfect for boating, fishing, swimming, and other forms of water recreation. Lake Hefner is one of America’s top sailing lakes, while McGee Creek Reservoir is legendary for its bass fishing. Jet-ski on Lake Murray or scuba dive in Lake Tenkiller’s special dive park. There are dozens of professional guides for all these lake activities such as Dempsey’s Fishing Guides and Island Fever Sailing School on Grand Lake.
On land, Oklahoma has just as much to offer. The hiking in the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge is a highlight of the region with numerous trails that wind through its granite terrain. The southwest corner of the state even has mysterious cypress swamps to explore.
If you prefer to experience the beautiful backcountry on the back of a horse there are dozens of stables and horseback riding guides to choose from. Outfitters like Wood Guest Ranch run everything from day rides to week-long outings. Southeast Oklahoma’s Ouachita Mountains are one of the prettiest parts of the state, and a day or two on horseback is a great experience with a professional guide like Arbuckle Trail Rides.
One of the top local sports here is hunting. It’s a family tradition dating back to the state’s frontier days, and today there are over 100 public areas that allow hunting for wildlife like deer, elk, wild turkey, and quail. Whether you prefer the bow or the gun, there are countless hunting ranches and outfitters to set you up. A great way to go is to stay at a ranch like Weil Ranch Hunting or Wildcat Springs Ranch where everything is on site and arranged.
Lots of folks in Oklahoma enjoy playing in the backcountry with a motorized vehicle like an ATV or ORV. The state has many public areas where off-road vehicles are allowed, such as the cool sand dunes of Little Sahara State Park or the forests of Little Murray State Park. Let a company like Stewarts ATV & Buggy or Antler Motorsports set you up with ATV rentals and guides.
Another form of fun can be found in the 70 casinos scattered across Oklahoma. Many are full-fledged resorts with all the bells and whistles such as WinStar World Casino and the Choctaw Casino Resort. All casinos are on Indian reservations, adding a unique element to the gaming atmosphere.