Our second (and final) stop in Oklahoma this year happened during the last week of October. As we prepared to leave the state and enter Texas, we found yet another little gem that we had never heard of. Just like all of the Oklahomans and Texans (they were everywhere in this place), once I heard about Beavers Bend State Park we made a beeline to this very popular resort.
Of the 110 electric and water sites here, only 31 are reservable and the rest are on a first-come first-served basis (here’s Steve’s campground review). Knowing this in advance, we left Hodgen, Oklahoma very early so we could hopefully lock up a site for Betsy. We lucked out and managed to grab a river view site just minutes after the previous campers left. Although we don’t much like the FCFS method used by some parks, we certainly had no complaints about it now as we settled in at this wonderful site!
The park was named after John T. Beavers, a Choctaw intermarried citizen. The “bend” in the park’s name refers to an area where a portion of Mountain Fork River changes direction sharply, making an almost 180-degree turn. It is commonly known as River Bend, and is a popular area for trout fishing, canoeing and swimming.
As we hiked the trails, we were pleasantly surprised to see several beautiful rock formations. We later learned that they are unique within the state of Oklahoma. Geology students make frequent field trips here to see the geology first-hand. The sedimentary rock has been thrust upward due to an ancient collision of the north and south American plates, forming what is now the Ouachita Mountains. Evidence of what is called the Ouachita orogeny can be seen all over the park, where some layers of rock are tilted up at angles of almost 60 degrees. We saw features where eons of erosion have left behind unusual features.
Mornings were special here. Steve (Mr. early riser) woke me up several times so we could gaze together at the shrouds of fog running down the river as the sun came up – fabulous! We saw the myriad movements of the fog as we enjoyed our cup of java. Sometimes it would swirl like a little tornado right over the river.
As the sun dipped below the horizon in the evening, the hickory, oak and cypress trees across the river reflected their colorful palette of orange, yellow and red onto the water. It was so scenic that I got crazy with my camera, trying to capture all of the beauty around us.
The park is also home to the Forest Heritage Center Museum, where I was enlightened about the history of this area’s forestry. Without a doubt, the largest business concern here was the logging industry. At its height between 1918-1968, there were “traveling timber towns” that were repeatedly built and dismantled as they moved to the next area of timber to be felled.
The Civilian Conservation Corps #2815 has left a lasting legacy here, as they were responsible for developing the park between 1935 and 1941. During our travels of the U.S., we have learned what a tremendous contribution they have made by building the beautiful parks and waterways that have survived almost a century and given so much enjoyment to millions of Americans. Thank you to all of those hard-working CCC folks, what a great service you have done for all of us!
As usual, we explored beyond our campsite onto the trails just a few steps away. Even though there was no cellular service here, the wonderful trails made it a great place to get “off the grid” for a while. We laced up our shoes and did several hikes – some trails were easy, and others were challenging with steep climbs. We walked through towering pines and hopped onto rock formations while walking around Broken Bow lake. Hiking is the best way to explore the area, and we got to enjoy beautiful scenery that we didn’t even know existed in Oklahoma.
Whether I looked up or down, many unusual fungi were there for my peering eyes.
We somehow lost our way for a few minutes, and while looking around I found these Turkey Vultures giving me “the look”. I kept moving along until Steve figured out how to get us back on track.
I’ll let the pictures below show why Beavers Bend State Park is a good destination for southerners and adventurers to enjoy the autumn months:
And with this sunset we must say goodbye to Oklahoma!
The Beavers Bend area may not look like what I imagined when I thought of Oklahoma, but now I know it looks just fine – as most Oklahomans already know!
Next up: Hello East Texas!