8 Beautiful Destinations in Oklahoma You Have to See to Believe

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From the turquoise cascades of Turner Falls to a tropical conservatory shaped like a crystal cylinder, Oklahoma is a feast for the eyes when it comes to breathtaking natural wonders and unique scenic spots.

Check out this list of Oklahoma’s most photo-worthy locations.

1. Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge

A family of prairie dogs in Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. Photo Credit: Sarah Richter.

Fields of wildflowers. Grazing bison. Ancient mountains. You’ll find all these things and more at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in southwest Oklahoma. Spanning 60,000 acres, this refuge is home to babbling streams, glistening freshwater lakes and expansive prairies – all against the backdrop of towering granite mountains. Enjoy an incredible sunrise from your campsite, snap a photo of prairie dogs popping out of their holes, or spend the day kayaking on a lake. Birdwatchers flock to the region due to 275 species living there – keep an eye out for hawks and colorful wood ducks.

2. Quartz Mountain State Park

Sunset over Lake Altus-Lugert in Quartz Mountain State Park, Oklahoma.

Glistening like a pool of liquid glass, Lake Altus-Lugert is the jewel of Quartz Mountain State Park. Nestled at the western end of the Wichita Mountains, this park and lake attracts outdoor enthusiasts seeking adventures on and off the water. Test your climbing skills at Baldy Point – the perfect spot for beginners and experienced rock climbers 300 feet above the prairie. Hit the trails for a hike or a day mountain biking. Need to refuel? Grab a bite at Lookout Kitchen for mouthwatering dishes made from locally sourced ingredients.  

3. Turner Falls

An aerial view of Turner Falls in Davis, Oklahoma. Photo Credit: Kit Leong.

Plunging 77 feet into a vibrant aquamarine pool, Turner Falls is Oklahoma’s largest waterfall and one of the state’s geological wonders. Located near Davis in the Arbuckle Mountains, the waterfall is known for its three distinct falls descending over a towering crag of limestone into a natural swimming pool open for a dip throughout the summer. Beyond the falls, the park has a 1930s rock castle art installation and three explorable caves. 

4. Gloss Mountain State Park

A butte surrounded by a sea of prairie in Gloss Mountain State Park. Photo Credit: The Bohemian Lens.

There’s a moment when the sun hits the Gloss Mountains and the peaks shimmer as if made from shards of glass. Towering over an expansive sea of prairie, these mountains in Gloss Mountain State Park attract visitors with the promise of a shiny spectacle. Of course, this is only an illusion created by the high concentration of Selenite within the mountains, but it makes for incredible photo-worthy moments. Hike the trail to the top of the popular Cathedral Mountain for some of the best views in the park – you might even spot an eagle gliding gracefully through the skies. 

5. Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory

A view of the Crystal Tropical Bridge Conservatory at night. The image was modified and cropped from original source. Photo Credit: Josue Goge.

While not a natural wonder, the Crystal Tropical Bridge Conservatory makes a statement with its unique design. Located in Oklahoma City, this 224-foot-long work of art is shaped like a cylinder and features 13,000 square feet of plants across multiple climate zones. Take a stroll along the intricately manicured pathways. Marvel at the two-story waterfall featuring tropical plants within its design. Take a moment to pause by the reflecting pool at the base of the Root Wall, which features the roots of an array of tropical plants.

6. Chickasaw National Recreation Area

A sunny view of the Little Niagara Falls in the Chickasaw National Recreation Area in Oklahoma. Photo Credit: Kit Leong.

Sometimes referred to as the Peaceful Valley of Rippling Waters by Indigenous Americans, it’s all about the beauty of water at this recreation area in Sulphur, Oklahoma. Marvel at the mini-cascades of Little Niagara Falls. Swim in the expansive Lake of the Arbuckles. Or, hike to Buffalo Springs, which flows into a cylindrical stone pool. Take a moment for a photo op at the historical Lincoln Bridge. Built in 1909, this bridge extends over a spectacular rocky stream.

7. Philbrook Museum of Art Gardens   

The Philbrook Museum of Art gardens in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Photo Credit: Kit Leong.

Located in Tulsa, this art museum is known for its colorful formal gardens surrounding the property. Spanning 25 acres, the gardens are inspired by the beauty of Tuscany and offer guests multiple pathways to explore, from vine-covered terraces to fountains, pools and a sensory garden. Be sure to pet one of the garden cats you’ll find lounging throughout the gardens or perched on the many art installations.

8. Talimena National Scenic Byway

A gorgeous autumn day at the Ouachita National Forest along the Talimena National Scenic Byway.

In the fall, Oklahoma’s Ouachita National Forest explodes in a kaleidoscope of colors, and there’s no better way to experience the reds, golds and oranges of autumn than the Talimena National Scenic Byway. Located in Southeast Oklahoma, this route winds through one of the highest mountain ranges between the Appalachians and the Rockies. Stop by some scenic vistas from Potato Hills to Castle Rock. There are also great trails for mountain biking, hiking and horseback riding at Talimena State Park or the Cedar Lake Recreation Area.

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