My First National Parks Week Experience

Lace up your hiking boots and fill up your water bottle because it’s National Parks Week! Get in your car, type Sulphur, Oklahoma in your GPS and get ready to explore Chickasaw Country’s very own National Park, the Chickasaw National Recreation Area (CNRA).

I had my first experience at the CNRA last week, and I’m here to tell you, it is a beautiful place full of hiking trails, waterfalls, lakes, campgrounds and tons of family fun activities!

When you get to the CNRA, the Travertine Nature Center is a must stop, it’s the main office and educational building in the middle of the park. The Travertine Center has an information desk with helpful park rangers - one gave me a map and told me exactly where to go! It also has a gift shop and bookstore with anything you might want or need. If you want to learn more about the CNRA, don’t worry the Travertine Center has you covered with a movie that tells you all about it! The auditorium seats 100 people, so bring all your friends and family along on this adventure!

If you want a more hands-on experience, there are ranger-led programs offered through the Travertine Center during the summer season.

One of the many reasons I think you’ll love the CNRA is the many hiking trails. You can hike more than 30 miles of hiking trails, including hikes to Buffalo and Antelope Springs, creek walks and even night hikes! Around the Travertine Nature Center you’ll find 1.5 mile hiking trail along Travertine Creek. There are also plenty of picnicking areas with tables and grills! You can reserve a picnic pavilion at www.recreation.gov!

What trip to CNRA wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Little Niagara?! Have you seen this spot, it’s a popular spot, I’ve heard! It’s also an easy place to go swimming, wading or exploring along the bank.

For the lake lovers, the CNRA has two lakes, Veterans Lake and Lake of the Arbuckles, which are perfect for boating and fishing. Lake of the Arbuckles has crystal clear water, which makes it perfect for scuba diving and trolling for fish.  Veterans Lake has an awesome walking trail around it and a playground!

Going to state or national park with my family are some of my favorite memories as a kid. There’s a reason National Parks are called “America’s Best Idea.” Children get to use their big imagination and discover the beauty, which makes up south-central Oklahoma. I’m not a kid anymore, but when I was at CNRA, my childlike wonder came out! 

So put down your electronics, grab a travel buddy and make plans to visit the Chickasaw National Recreation Area to celebrate National Park’s Week! Trust me, you won’t regret it.

Happy travels,

Kalli

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