Getting Wild in Oklahoma

With one of the most ecologically diverse landscapes in the nation, Oklahoma is an outdoor-lover’s playground.

The state’s more than 55,000 miles of shoreline along lakes and ponds give ample opportunity to fish and boat, as do Oklahoma’s 167,000 miles of rivers and streams. Hiking and mountain biking are also popular, and in every season and in every part of the state, Oklahoma is a mecca for outdoor sports.

According to the Outdoor Industry Association, at least 57 percent of Oklahoma residents participate in outdoor recreation that generates $8.4 billion in consumer spending, 95,000 jobs with $2.5 billion in wages, and $584 million in tax revenue.

“With 11 different ecosystems in our state, you can see mesas, canyons, caves, prairies and mountains,” says Keli Clark, communications director for Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation. “The diversity in Oklahoma is astounding. You can find anything, from hiking to hunting to swimming and boating to four-wheeling.”

Mountain Biking and Multi-Use Trails
Roman Nose State Park near Watonga offers one of Oklahoma’s many, challenging multi-use trails for cycling enthusiasts. From fat to mesa to canyon, the state park is a favorite among mountain bikers.

“There are miles of off-road biking trails that go through diverse areas,” says Clark. “The trails can be very steep and very challenging. With so many trails in our state, people can explore on their own.”

Lake Thunderbird State Park also boasts miles of challenging off-road trails, but state parks aren’t the only places bicyclists can enjoy. Many city parks also cater to those on two wheels, including Turkey Mountain Park in Tulsa and the 12-mile trail at Oklahoma City’s Lake Overholser.

Nature lovers have their pick of more than a thousand miles of hiking trails. One of the longest in the state is the David Boren Trail at Beavers Bend State Park. This 16-mile trail winds through hilly terrain, forests and across creeks.

“The David Boren Hiking Trail is the only trail system we have that you can primitive camp on,” says Frank Griffith, park naturalist for Beavers Bend State Park.

“If hiking is your passion, Oklahoma has so many trails to explore,” says Clark. “It’s all about getting people outdoors and active at our state parks and wildlife areas.”

Hunting and Fishing
One in three Oklahoma residents hunts or fishes on the more than 70 public hunting and fishing areas offered, according to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC).

Oklahoma has seasons for antelope, bear, deer, elk, feral hogs, quail, turkey and more on the more than 1.6-million acres of hunting land available.

“Rife deer season is the Super Bowl of hunting season in Oklahoma,” says Micah Holmes, spokesperson for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “During opening day, we have more people in the woods hunting than at any football stadium during a game. It’s a big deal for Oklahoma, and is important to the economy.”

Fishing at Oklahoma’s 34 major lakes means more than 555,450 acres of freshwater sport. Four fish hatcheries operated by ODWC annually raise and stock 12 million fish.

“Fishing is popular in our state, and one of our claims to fame are our lakes,” says Clark. “Grand Lake is huge for fishing and boating. In fact, the big Bassmaster Tournament was held on Grand Lake recently.”

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