Road Trip: Chickasaw National Recreation Area
Back in April when I had visited the Chickasaw Cultural Center, Leslie and I drove around the city of Sulphur and briefly saw the Chickasaw National Recreation Area. Both of us wanted to come back another time to ride bikes and yesterday we did.
[pullquote-right]TIP: Visit the Travertine Nature Center for information about the area.[/pullquote-right]I want to preface this post with the fact that the Chickasaw National Recreation Area is huge–15.47 sq miles to be precise. For this road trip, we explored the north eastern area. We parked at the Travertine Nature Center, which was a good central location with various paths, facilities, and sights.
The Travertine Nature Center, located on Travertine Creek near the eastern edge of the Platt Historic District, serves as the parks main educational center. The nature center contains exhibit dioramas, live reptiles, amphibians and birds of prey, and an interactive learning area for visitors of all ages.
We biked around randomly until we decided to head for the Pavilion Springs, a path which was little over a mile, one way. The unpaved trail was an exciting uphill and down hill ride, oftentimes pretty steep.
The path was of medium difficulty, but the scenery and downhill cruising were worth it. Pictured above was one of the stops we made to rest.
While called “Sulphur Springs,” not all of the springs are still flowing. As we learned at the nature center, natural changes in the water table and a long-running drought in our state mean that several springs have dried up. Pavilion Springs, however, is one of the mineral springs that is still flowing. According to the National Park Services, it was once the center of the park, and the community of Sulphur Springs which preceded it. First known as the seven springs for the seven separate flowing vents that came together at this location, the springs were later renamed for the series of pavilion structures built over the springs beginning in the 1890s. The best known of the Pavilion Springs in the early days of the park was “Big Tom” which flowed at forty gallons per minute.
After we arrived back to the car, pleasantly exhausted from the ride, we decided to drive around to explore more of the park. After about fifteen minutes of random turns, we stumbled upon Veterans Lake, which looked it had recently been developed to improve the area’s accessibility. Definitely want to bike it another time.
We saw a few more springs (and former springs), a cool bridge, campgrounds, bison, and more picturesque scenery as we left the area.
The Chickasaw National Recreation Area was about an hour drive from Norman and was worth the drive to drive and ride around. As I said before, we only explored a small bit of the park. Make a trip there!