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Chickasaw National Recreation Area

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From the 1986 edition of A Guide to Birding in Oklahoma published by the Tulsa Audubon Society. This account was partially reviewed and updated in 2007.

"Peaceful Valley of Rippling Waters". Early American Indian visitors used this statement to describe this area’s significance. These beautiful words can still be used today to describe Chickasaw National Recreation Area and its many resources.

From prehistoric times to the present, access to the combination of cool water, mineral springs, cool breezes, shade, and wildlife has created at Chickasaw National Recreation Area an experience that sets it apart from the surrounding environment.

The springs and streams of Chickasaw come from one of the most complex geological and hydrological features in the United States. These resources have been economically and environmentally significant throughout the history of the region, and are valuable for scientific research.

Dating from the public works era of the 1930's, classic examples of Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) architectural craftsmanship and ingenuity--included in one of the largest and most intact designed cultural landscapes of that period--blend harmoniously with the natural environment. A trail system was designed and constructed during this period that meets the needs of the casual walker as well as the avid exerciser.

The park holds within its boundaries a vast diversity of natural resources. These unique flora, fauna, waters, and geological formations have withstood the external pressures of man made and natural changes. The combination of these resources has created an area unlike any in the surrounding territory.

Chickasaw lies in a transition zone where the Eastern deciduous forest and the Western prairies meet. It has flora and fauna from both environments, and other flora and fauna specific to such transition areas. The view over Veterans Lake, especially beautiful at sunset, illustrates this transition.

The park provides opportunities to experience a wide range of outdoor experiences--swimming, boating, fishing, hiking, observing nature, hunting, camping, and picnicking--reminding us of the rural character in the history of the American people. It adds measurably to the quality of life for visitors and area residents.

Chicasaw NRA was established as Sulphur Springs Reservation in 1902; renamed and redesignated Platt National Park in 1906 and finally combined with Arbuckle National Recreation Area and additional lands and renamed and redesignated in 1976.

Mineral springs, streams, lakes - water has always been the attraction at Chickasaw National Recreation Area. A visit to the park should start by stopping at the Travertine Information and Nature Center that sits on top of Travertine Creek. The Nature Center offers numerous activities, exhibits, dioramas, as well as live fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds of prey, and an interactive learning area for people of all ages.

Brisk Hike? Leisurely stroll? With over 18 miles of trails including a newly constructed two-mile long paved handicapped trail, Chickasaw National Recreation Area is sure to have a trail just for you. Along the way you’ll discover riverbanks graced with Sycamore, willows, and cottonwoods with a mix of prairie grass, prickly pear cactus and even yucca along the way. Just Up ahead the cool waters of Little Niagara Waterfall, Travertine Creek and Rock Creek beckon waders and swimmers. Streams are cold and clear all year. Rock Creek has a small beach suitable for sunbathing.

Spectacular views await you on the Bison Pasture Trail. Named for the small herd of Bison, brought here in 1920 from Yellowstone National Park this trail offers the very best of views. Bromide Hill rises up 140 feet over the surrounding terrain and as you climb the hill hardwood trees disappear into a sea of prairie grass.

Buckhorn Area Trail is one of the best places to spot wildlife (or signs of their activity) including armadillos, wild turkeys, and fox squirrels. The lakeshore is also alive with a number of amphibians, minnows and turtles.

Veterans Lake Trail snakes around the 67-acre manmade Veterans Lake abundant with wildlife and wildflowers. Canada geese can be spotted fall and spring using the lake as a stop over.

Rock Creek Trail is a hotspot for horseback riders and mountain bikers. Nearly nine miles round trip across fields, forests, and hills, this trail offers a variety of terrain anyone can appreciate. Rock fields and creek crossings create a fun and scenic ride.

Six campgrounds, including three on the shores of the Lake of the Arbuckles, provide visitors with a total outdoor experience. All campsites have picnic tables and fire rings.

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Copyright © 2013 Tulsa Audubon Society
Last modified: October 15, 2018




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