One of the things I most love about exploring the Great Plains is how much there is to discover. Some might think this part of the country is empty – it’s just endless fields and rolling hills, right? Well, yes, much of the Great plains is… plains. But there are also more mountainous areas (relatively speaking) and some gorgeous waterways and lakes. The area of southeast Oklahoma around Broken Bow is one such place.
Whether you find yourself traveling through this part of the Sooner State or are looking for a beautiful new destination to discover, consider planning a trip to Broken Bow, Oklahoma. There are some delightful things to do in Broken Bow, including outdoor adventures that might surprise you.
In this post, I promote travel to destinations that are the traditional lands of the 𐓏𐒰𐓓𐒰𐓓𐒷 𐒼𐓂𐓊𐒻 𐓆𐒻𐒿𐒷 𐓀𐒰^𐓓𐒰^(Osage), O-ga-xpa Ma-zhoⁿ (O-ga-xpa) (Quapaw), Choctaw (Oklahoma), Caddo, and Kiikaapoi (Kickapoo) peoples. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation and respect to the past and present people of these lands. To learn more about the peoples who call these lands home, I invite you to explore Native Land.
1. Explore Beavers Bend State Park
Established in 1937, Beavers Bend State Park is one of the best things to do in Broken Bow if you’re a nature lover. The park governs 3,482 acres, and there is hiking for days (literally, if you want to!). It features an excellent trail network that offers beautiful views of the woods and the river.
Fishing is popular here; the southernmost part of the park has smallmouth bass, walleye, rainbow, and brown trout. If you can be picky about the time you visit, try to go in November. It is a fantastic time for leaf-peeping the foliage’s vibrant colors.
2. Visit the Forest Heritage Center Museum
Art and history go hand in hand. If you’d like to explore both, a visit to the Forest Heritage Center Museum is one of the top Broken Bow things to do. “The Wood Art Capital of Oklahoma,” Forest Heritage Center Museum, sits in the heart of Beaver Bend State Park.
Inside, it houses unique displays and 14 large dioramas that famous Smokey Bear artist, Harry Rossoll, painted. These dioramas depict and revise the story of early forestry, Caddo Indians, paper-making in the South, the 1940s, and lumbering. The museum also has antique forestry tools, unique wood art, homestead memorabilia, a bronze fallen firefighter sculpture, and a 20-foot Indian Statue.
3. Play at Broken Bow Lake
Broken Bow Lake is one of the best things to do in Broken Bow on a sunny day. Spanning 14,000 acres, Broken Bow Lake is a reservoir in southeastern Oklahoma. It is a beautiful spot to escape and enjoy nature. The park also has 180 miles of shoreline, making it an excellent destination for water sports, boating, swimming, and fishing. There are also numerous trails bordering the park’s rushing rapids. Plus, it features nearby cabins and campgrounds for lodging if you want to spend the night.
4. Visit Gardner Mansion & Museum
History buffs should have the Gardner Mansion & Museum high on their list of things to do in Broken Bow. The museum was once the home of the Principal Chief of the Choctaws, Jefferson Gardner, who stood for the rights and interests of both the Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes.
It is a window to explore the area’s history. It features a vast collection of Indian artifacts dating back to prehistoric times and items from the pioneer days when new settlers came to the west. Another highlight is the remains of a 2000-year-old Cypress tree outside the museum. The tree was a landmark to Choctaws traveling the Trail of Tears to their designated Indian Territory, signaling they had finally arrived at their destination.
5. Wander The Maze of Hochatown
The Maze of Hochatown is an excellent alternative if you’re traveling with teenagers or in a big group. This 29,000-square-foot wooden maze appeals to all ages and puts your senses and logic to the test. Besides escaping, the goal is to complete a game card by collecting five stamps (an additional eight are optional).
It may take up to one hour to complete the challenge, depending on how good you are with mazes. Their staff changes the maze up regularly for those looking to do it again and again! If you’re visiting during the summer, definitely go in the morning as it gets hot.
6. Dig into the Beaver’s Bend Mining Company
Beaver’s Bend Mining Company is by far one of the top Beavers Bend things to do if you have children. It invites little ones to pan for beautiful gems in its 66-foot sluice. They also have the Dino Dig Adventure, an interactive museum where they can channel their inner archeologist and mine for fossils and arrowheads.
There’s also a pirate ship playground and a gift shop where kids can make wax hands. They have tons of different colors kids can mix in their buckets and create a cast for their hands. It only takes three minutes, but your little one gets to take a special souvenir home.
7. Take a Wine Tasting
Some of the best wineries in Oklahoma sit in Broken Bow and Beavers Bend. So if you’d like to indulge in a glass of fine wine or want a perfect escape on a very rainy day, you’re in luck!
Girls Gone Wine, Fish Tales Winery, Vojai’s Winery, and Knotted Rope Winery are some of the most popular wineries. They all offer wine tastings and have outdoor patios and fire pits where you can while away and enjoy your wine. They also offer the opportunity to buy a bottle and enjoy it on their outdoor patios.
8. Take the Broken Tiki Tour
The Broken Tiki Tour is nothing short of amazing. You can choose to stay on their deck and sip some delicious cocktails. However, I suggest you bring out your adventurous side and book their tiki boat tour.
This one-hour lake cruise takes you to explore and relax on the waters of Broken Bow Lake. The adventure starts with a ride on the tiki bus to board the tiki boat. There’s fun music playing, beautiful scenery, and a fantastic group of people running it.
9. Drive the Talimena National Scenic Byway
Last but not least, driving the Talimena Scenic Drive is one of the best things to do in Beavers Bend if you’d like to get a glimpse of the landscape. The Talimena Scenic Drive covers a 54.0-mile stretch from southeastern Oklahoma to extreme western Arkansas.
It meanders along the ridge and up and down the Ouachita Mountains. You’ll find numerous overlooks along the way, offering privileged views over forests. One of the best times to visit is during the fall. Trees in various shades of yellow, orange, red, purple, and brown flank the route, creating picture-perfect scenery.
Where to Stay in Broken Bow
If you’re sold on spending some time in Broken Bow, you probably need a place to rest after each day of adventure. There very few hotel options in Broken Bow – Booking.com says 8 properties, and Google says 15 – but there are enough options to suit any travel style and budget.
- Budget: Rodeway Inn (from $94/night)
- Mid-Range: HiWay Inn Express (from $126/night)
- Local Option: Three-Bed Cabin Rental (from $150/night)
Have any questions about these things to do in Broken Bow or how to plan your trip? Let me know in the comments!