There's nothing quite like a retreat into nature. Whether you're looking to fill your days with fishing and boating, hiking, or even just relaxing and getting away from the stress of everyday life while enjoying the views from a secluded cabin, there's a reason why natural escapes are so attractive. One of America's most mesmerizing spots to get away from it all is in McCurtain County, Oklahoma. With lush forests hiding peaceful trails and charming cabins, and lakes and rivers that make for incredible fun and some pretty amazing scenery, this slice of natural enchantment provides everything you could want from a relaxing getaway.
Broken Bow Lake is one of Oklahoma's most jaw-droppingly beautiful gems. Explore it at Beavers Bend State Park, which has all of the amenities you need for a perfect lake getaway. Along with a lodge, the park has countless luxury and rustic cabins and campsites galore, so finding the perfect place to stay is easy. The lake itself provides opportunities for scuba diving, fishing, water skiing, canoeing, swimming, and more. You can also enjoy golf, mini golf, hiking, boat rentals, ATV trails, horseback riding, and tons more in the forests and mountains around the lake. Restaurants, bars, and marinas in the area all share the relaxing lakeshore vibe that makes this lake so special.
Also on Broken Bow Lake, Hochatown State Park is another great destination for those looking to escape everyday life and enjoy a few relaxing days by the water. This used to be the site of a town, Hochatown (not to be confuse with the second Hochatown, which was established after). The original Hochatown was flooded when Mountain Fork River was dammed up, and created Broken Bow Lake. When you're boating around or swimming, keep an eye out because under the lake rests the remnants of an entire town.
From the moment you drive into the park as the road winds its way through the forest, you'll fall in love. The swimming beach, fish cleaning station, and boat ramps provide convenience and fun, and there are plenty of campsites and cabins for rent. In the fall, this is a great place to spot changing leaves and bald eagles. You'll definitely feel miles away from everyday life here, in your own world of peace and relaxation.
Surrounded by the Ouachita National Forest is the Forest Heritage Center and Museum. The inside is covered in dioramas (painted by the artist who drew Smokey Bear, the famed forest fire prevention mascot) that tell the story of these woodlands. From the Caddo Indians who made the forest their home, to the start of the paper-making industry in the South, through lumbering and, later, forest appreciation and protection, there is a lot of history in these woods. See historic homestead artifacts, antique forestry equipment, and one-of-a-kind wood art as well. You'll leave with a whole new love, respect, and appreciation for the forest!
Add a flair of excitement to your trip through McCurtain County by rafting, canoeing, or kayaking down Mountain Fork River. The rapids, rocks, and waterfalls also make for excellent fly-fishing, some of the best in the area. The park has plenty of campsites, and the river flows into Broken Bow Lake in Beavers Bend State Park. Check out the dam that helped create the lake!
Welcome to the McCurtain County Wilderness Area, home to the largest expanse of untouched shortleaf pine and hardwood forest in the nation. Babbling streams meander through dense stands of elm, maple, massive shortleaf pine, and old-growth oak. Deer, wild turkeys, rabbits, and more call this patch of land home, and while controlled hunts are allowed, it's also a lovely place to simply enjoy some untouched natural beauty.
8,000 acres of land within the gorgeous Ouachita National Forest have been set aside and designated as the Red Slough Wildlife Management Area. It protects a special natural habitat that is home to hundreds of rare birds and plants that you can visit for yourself. Rare birds not often seen in this area, such as roseate spoonbills, purple gallinules, yellow rails, and black-bellied whistling ducks can be spotted, and this is the only place in Oklahoma where alligators breed. Visit in the spring, and you're likely to see them swimming around. Plus, this is a great place to spy bald eagles! Hunting and fishing are popular here, but make sure you have all the permits and follow all regulations; since this is a wildlife management area, camping and motorized vehicles are prohibited!
From peaceful lakes and waterfall-lined rivers to thickets of lush woodland and luxurious cabins, a trip to McCurtain County is pretty close to heaven on Earth. Everyday worries fade as the sun rises above the water, and days filled with hiking, boating, or just relaxing make for pure joy. You probably won't want to leave this special place, but don't worry; every time you return, it will be waiting for you, just the same as it was when you left.