National Parks Week is April 20 – 28 and the perfect place to celebrate is … the Chickasaw National Recreation Area.
The CNRA has a one-of-a-kind history. In the early 1900s, the Chickasaw Nation sold 640 acres to the U.S. Government to preserve the land. After this, the U.S. Government created the Sulphur Springs. Only a few years later, in 1906, Congress re-designated the reservation as Platt National Park. The park was the seventh and smallest national park as well as the only national park in Oklahoma.
Soon, tourists from across the nation started visiting the new national park. In 1914, Platt National Park had more visitors than Yellowstone or Yosemite! As the years went by, the park began to change. In the 1930’s, new infrastructure was built and many of these changes are still in the park today. In 1976, Congress abolished Platt National Park and it became the Chickasaw National Recreation Area. Even though the park changed from a national park to a national recreation area, it is still operated by the National Park Service.
Three places to visit at the CNRA:
The Travertine Nature Center was built in 1969 near the Travertine Creek on the eastern edge of the Platt Historic District. This building serves as the park’s main educational center with many different exhibits including live reptiles and an interactive learning area. If you want to meet a park ranger, this is the place to go. Ranger-led programs are presented during the summer. These programs include exclusive hikes in the park!
The Lincoln Bridge was built in 1909 and it connects the Flower Park and the city of Sulphur to the mineral springs south of Travertine Creek. The bridge is the oldest structure in the park. It was dedicated on Abraham Lincoln’s birthday … hence the name. I mean just look at the photo below! It’s a beautiful place to explore.
The natural springs around the park are a big draw to the area, mostly found in enclosed pavilions or pools. The central area of the Platt Historic District has the most springs with springs at the Hillside Spring, Pavilion Spring and Black Sulphur Spring. Located adjacent to Flower Park is the best-known well in Oklahoma, Vendome Well, which has an outflow of 2,500 gallons of sulphur water per minute! Bring your canteen to try this one-of-a-kind water. It is said to have therapeutic qualities.
Have fun exploring the Chickasaw National Recreation Area and remember to use #VisitChickasaw when posting your photos for a chance to be featured!