Three-day weekends are made for road trips. For those with a case of wanderlust, but are budget conscious, I’ve compiled this list of a few cheap road trip ideas in Oklahoma.
Can’t get more inexpensive than exploring nature via a hike or a bike ride if you already got the gear. I know for those in the city, people sometimes forget Oklahoma isn’t all flat. The Chickasaw National Recreation Area in south-central Oklahoma near Sulphur is in a transition zone where eastern deciduous forest meets the western prairie landscape. I also enjoyed Robbers Cave State Park, located in the hilly woodlands of the Sans Bois Mountains of southeast Oklahoma.
Perhaps a prescription to Medicine Park can cure a case of wanderlust. The town’s first and foremost draw is the Cobblestone architecture, which is not found anywhere else in the US. Challenge yourself to find all 16 of the Robert Dean Metal Sculptures as you explore the shops, walk about the river trail, and go for a swim.
Next to Medicine Park is the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge. The Wichita Mountains have been a treasured escape for nature lovers throughout the state’s history. They provide a beautiful home for multitudinous wildlife and plant species. While there, be sure to explore the Parallel Forest. The trees in this forest were originally planted in order to have wood for fences. By the time the trees were ready to be harvested, the land had been redesignated by the Wildlife Refuge.
A designated area of the Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge in northern Oklahoma has gypsum concentrations high enough to grow selenite, a crystalline form of gypsum. The selenite crystals found there has an hourglass-shaped sand inclusion that is not known to occur in selenite crystals found elsewhere in the world. Digging for crystals are allowed for free, but only from April 1 through October 15.
If you go, be sure to bring sunscreen, drinking water, buckets, a change of clothes, and a large shovel (not some small garden shovel) for digging. For more advice, visit this page from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
One of the few consistently performing mystery lights, the Hornet Spook Light (named after a defunct town), has been going since at least the 1880s. The mysterious glowing orbs are visible at night along a four-mile stretch of the gravel Oklahoma East 50 Road, also called the “The Devil’s Promenade” and “Spook Light Road.” For more and directions, read this Roadside America article.
You don’t have to travel the whole road—even a small section in your local neighborhood will make for a fun adventure. Stop wherever you want. There are entire books dedicated to all of the Route 66 landmarks and activities. There’s even a great free book by the State of Oklahoma that you can pick up at many tourist centers, but honestly just take a cruise.
For a road trip for the seasons, the Talimena National Scenic Byway has something to experience each season.
The highlight of the 200-acre Alabaster Caverns State Park is the 3/4-mile cavern formed of alabaster, a rare form of gypsum, making it the largest natural gypsum cave in the world open to the public. Daily guided tours of the cave are available on the hour from 9 am to 4 pm for a fee charged. The cavern tour involves a strenuous walk of approximately 3/4 mile and the path is, at places, narrow, wet, uneven or at a steep incline. The tour takes about 45 minutes to complete.
For more road trip ideas, read past road trip articles. What are some of your favorite Inexpensive Oklahoma Road Trips? Leave a comment for possible inclusion of a future article.