The sound of a waterfall gently splashing over a travertine terrace. The sight of a great blue heron, scanning the clear waters of Rock Creek. The rich, green scent of a lush forest. You’ll find these stunning sights and more in Oklahoma’s stunning Chickasaw National Recreation Area.
The Chickasaw National Recreation Area encompasses almost 10,000 acres of lightly forested hills in south-central Oklahoma. The park is divided into two distinct areas, the Lake of the Arbuckles Recreation Area and the Platt Historic District. Both are dotted with natural mineral springs that produce crystal clear water.
The 2,300-acre Lake of the Arbuckles has 36 miles of shoreline; it’s known for its striking rock cliffs, great fishing – the lake is home to perch, bass, crappie and catfish – and clean, clear water.
In the Platt Historic District, the 67-acre Veterans Lake has been a popular fishing destination since its creation in 1933. Named to honor the veterans of American wars, the lake’s three miles of shoreline offer many picturesque picnic spots.
The Chickasaw National Recreation Area is also home to two major waterways and a number of other small streams. Travertine Creek flows through the Platt Historic District and draws swimmers and picnickers with its clear, calm waters, as well as visitors to the nature center on its banks. The stream rises from natural mineral springs with an unusually high calcium carbonate content. When this mineral is exposed to the air, it forms the smooth, porous stone known as travertine, a popular design element in many kitchens and bathrooms.
Larger Rock Creek meets Travertine Creek just north of Veterans Lake, before it flows southward through the rest of the park. This clear stream is also popular amongst swimmers, but offers great fishing, as well.
Hikers and bikers can explore the more-than-30 miles of trails that criss-cross the Chickasaw National Recreation Area. Appropriate for both beginning and experienced trekkers, well-maintained trails meander through green deciduous forests, through mixed-grass prairies, along stream banks and alongside rushing waterfalls.
Hiking trails are open year-round. If you love to see colorful wildflowers, plan your hiking or biking trip between March and October. You can also choose from six campgrounds with more than 400 sites.
Keeping it pristine
Over the years, a number of groups have been involved in conservation efforts for the Chickasaw National Recreation Area. For more than 100 years, this special area has drawn visitors, from Native Americans to early settlers who sought the healing waters of the mineral springs.
The Chickasaw tribe is well known of its stewardship of the land surrounding its cultural center, which likes just north of the recreation area. Their efforts have resulted in the purchase of 490 acres along the Blue River, known as the Oka’ Yanahli Preserve. Designated as a template for sustainable use, protection and restoration, the Chickasaw Nation’s efforts were recently rewarded with the Blue River Team Builder’s Award. With advocates such as the Chickasaw Nation, the Chickasaw National Recreation Area will remain an oasis for nature-lovers for many years to come.