3 state parks to make you forget you're in Oklahoma
North-central Oklahoma is a shining example of Oklahoma's wildly diverse geologic beauty.
Gloss Mountain State Park
Those who have never visited Oklahoma often dismiss the state as nothing but plains and farmland. In truth, Oklahoma is a geologically diverse state. West of Tulsa, past Enid on Highway 412, you have your choice of three very different state parks. They’re all well worth the drive.
Gloss Mountain State Park
Gloss Mountain State Park — also commonly referred to as the Glass Mountains — gets its name from mineral deposits in the soil that reflect sunlight on a bright day. The red dirt contrasts with the green grass, showing off a unique landscape in the Sooner State. Several hiking trails and picnic areas traverse the park, including a path to the top of Cathedral Mountain, where hikers can witness some spectacular views.
Little Sahara State Park
About a half-hour to the northwest is Little Sahara State Park. While enroute, chances are you’ll have already seen a truck hauling a dune buggy westward to ride the dunes. The sand stretches for 1,600 acres and attracts thrill seekers from all over the Midwest. If you didn’t happen to bring an ATV with you, they’re available for rent. A race festival comes to Little Sahara every September.
Great Salt Plains State Park
Going to the great salt plains has become a yearly tradition for us. It’s the only place in the world you can dig salt crystals that have an hourglass shape in them! This year it was almost too windy to be there. Also, I turned my back on ladybug for just a minute and in that time she lost her pants...(am I the only one with kids who hate pant? YOU’RE 7 YOU NEED PANTS IN PUBLIC! I digress...😂)
An hour northeast of Little Sahara is yet another example of Oklahoma’s diversity: Great Salt Plains State Park. The park boasts a saltwater lake, hiking trails and a salt plain with a dig area. During its open season (April 1-Oct. 15), visitors can traverse the salt plain and dig for little hourglass-shaped crystals embedded in the ground. Bring your own buckets and shovels. When you’re out on that flat mineral expanse, it’s easy to forget you’re still in Oklahoma.
Things to do in nearby Enid, Oklahoma
The closest city to these natural attractions is Enid, which is home to the Railroad Museum of Oklahoma. It’s been around since the late 1980s and takes advantage of a large restored Santa Fe freight building. The museum collection includes artifacts, photographs, model trains and memorabilia. Visitors can wander the yard and get up close to various decommissioned train cars and engines.
If you are still in a museum mood, stop in at the Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center. It features a historic village and the last remaining U.S. Land Office from the 1893 Land Run. The exhibits give a view into pioneer life on the prairie.
Enid is about two hours from Tulsa. Unless you depart early in the day and keep a tight schedule, you may want to plan a weekend trip to really experience everything. Downtown Enid has several locally owned restaurants and a historic district that includes some art deco architecture.