Just about the time we’re contemplating a jail break from the confines of our air-conditioned homes, the light and air begin signaling fall. The itch to wander off the beaten path starts gathering steam as the sun starts changing its slant on the Earth. Our thoughts, as we look upon an errant runner of Bermuda grass, turn suddenly from being annoyed by it, to the desire to be like it – free to meander and roam.

Those far-off looks in our eyes and that nagging restlessness have only one diagnosis – wanderlust. The condition has only one cure – ROAD TRIP!

So get out a map (or not), buy some sandwich fixin’s, gas up the car, clean and fill the ice chest, throw in some fishing gear (just in case), recharge the camera battery and load up.

Barnsdall, Oklahoma barn

old dairy barn, north of Barnsdall, Oklahoma

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** This is a reprint of an article I wrote for Urban Tulsa and will be of most interest for you Okie readers. HOWEVER, anyone desiring to see some of Oklahoma, in this case North and East Oklahoma, should save this for a future trip. Some of you do want to see Oklahoma, right?!

The specifics (directions, mileage/driving time, and recommended side trips) are here.

Scenic Road Trip #1 – East Loop to Jay

This loop heads east from Tulsa towards Locust Grove on Highway 412. The route delivers three state parks, Lake Eucha S.P.(pronounced ooochee), Spavinaw S.P. and Snowdale S.P.; takes you past both of Tulsa’s water supplies, Lake Eucha and Spavinaw Lake; will have you checking out one of the earliest permanent settlements in the state at Salina; puts you on a portion of Rt. 66 on the return trip (from Claremore to Catoosa); and provides a photo opportunity at one of Oklahoma’s best known curiosities – Catoosa’s Blue Whale.

Scenic Road Trip #2 – North Loop to the Tallgrass Prairie

Heading north of Tulsa, this road trip pivots around the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, the largest protected remnant of tallgrass prairie left on earth. The grass reaches its full height in early fall and grows among 650 other plant species. Look for large brown animals roaming. As many as 2,500 head of bison, the largest land mammal native to the Western hemisphere, live on the prairie. Osage Hills S.P. is along this route, as is Bad Brad’s Barbeque (918-287-1212) in Pawhuska.

Scenic Road Trip #3 – South to the Talimena Drive, Southern Variation

This is the classic fall circuit for Oklahomans – Talimena Drive.  This variation diverts south to Broken Bow after completing the length of the Talimena Scenic Byway. From Wilburton to Broken Bow, the entire stretch is a designated scenic drive.

The trip passes five of our state parks and one National Recreation Area – Okmulgee’s Dripping Springs S.P., Wilburton’s Robbers Cave S.P., Talimena S.P., Winding Stair Mountain N.R.A., Broken Bow’s Hochatown S.P., and Beavers Bend State Resort Park. To do this trip justice, plan for two days.

Scenic Road Trip #4 – West Loop to Little Sahara/Anadarko

This western circuitous route encompasses two of Oklahoma’s most surprising topographic wonders – the Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge and Little Sahara S.P.

The sea salt of The Great Salt Plains was deposited by an inland sea that once covered the area. The world’s only known deposit of selenite, a crystallized form of gypsum, is found here.

Ancient deposits of quartz and volcanic rock have eroded into the sands dunes of the Little Sahara. Approximately 1,500 acres of the shifting dunes were set aside for the state park.

The wide loop meanders past five state parks: Keystone S.P., Great Salt Plains S.P., Little Sahara S.P., Watonga’s Roman Nose S.P. and Hinton’s Red Rock Canyon S.P., with several others located in the surrounding areas.

The entire route from Little Sahara S.P. to Anadarko is a designated scenic drive.

Nicoli’s Italian American Restaurant in Anadarko is worthy of a refuel (for you, not the car). Call for reservations at 405-247-6340; open only on Friday and Saturday evenings 5 – 9pm. www.scaffettas.com.

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So your appetite’s whetted for Oklahoma travel?  Order the 2009 Travel Guide from www.travelok.com. You can also order free maps and a glove box full of additional state-wide resources.  Want to know more?  Steve’s Sundries (in Tulsa) carries, Off The Beaten Path Oklahoma and Oklahoma Curiosities; both worthy of any Okie library.

Join the Road Trip Revolution at the Solo Road Trip Facebook Fan Page, here.


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