Northwest Oklahoma

Roman Nose State Park

This route starts at Roman Nose State park and heads south to Binger, Oklahoma.

“Full of interesting geological features mixed into the cliffs and canyons of the region, this drive has plenty of visual appeal. In Watonga, take time to explore Roman Nose State Park, which is home to three natural springs Native Americans once believed had healing properties. Toward the end of the trip lies Red Rock Canyon State Park with an array of hiking trails geared for all fitness levels from beginner to expert.” —

Oklahoma Route 33

Kingfisher, OK to Perkins, OK

Travelers along this way may feel transported back in time on this route through the state’s central frontier country. In Guthrie, be sure to peek at the Santa Fe Depot, which was the heart of the town’s operations in the 1900s, or fuel up for the trip at Stable’s Café with a Western theme and killer steaks. Once in Perkins, tour the Oklahoma Territorial Plaza, an open-air museum with several restored buildings, including an 1800s one-room schoolhouse and a 1901 log cabin. —

Panhandle Highway 325

Guymon, OK to Kenton, OK

“The rugged beauty of the western landscape in the Oklahoma Panhandle is worth the drive. Head northwest and enjoy the drive up state Highway 325 from Boise City to Kenton. During this 38-mile drive, you’ll enjoy views of Black Mesa, the highest point in the state.” —

Red Carpet Country Loop

Enid, OK to Enid OK

This is based partially on a write up, and partially on a business trip I had to make out to Beaver County many years ago. There is surprisingly more to do in the panhandle than you might think. The roads in the eastern part of the panhandle cover lovely rolling hills and tall grass prairie. I have no idea why they call it Red Carpet Country, but they do. Marketing, I guess.

Great Plains Trail of Oklahoma – Black Mesa Loop

Keyes, OK to Keyes, OK

“Within the eastern half of this loop the well-mowed lawn look of the shortgrass prairie pervades the landscape from horizon to horizon. Dotted with yucca and extensive prairie dog towns the shortgrass prairie is home to a unique set of wildlife species including burrowing owls, long-billed curlews, swift fox, and ferruginous hawks. As you travel west within the loop, the gently rolling plains suddenly meet flat-topped mesas capped with black, basaltic lava rising 500’ above the surrounding prairie. Systems of deep canyons have been cut by the Cimarron River and its tributaries resulting in numerous ravines and steep slopes which are home to plants and animals closely related to the foothills of the southern Rocky Mountains. The mesas are topped with short-grass prairie but the more gentle slopes of the mesas are covered in a woodland community composed of junipers and pinyon pine. Birders can expect to see scaled quail, pinyon jay, Chihuahuan raven, curve-billed thrasher, and common bushtit. Other wildlife include rock squirrel, mule deer, and numerous lizards including the “horny toad” a.k.a., Texas horned lizard. —Oklahoma Wildlife & Prairie Heritage Alliance. Find additional information from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife.

Note: Some portions of the route listed by OWPHA in red are not paved. I’ve left those off of this map.

Great Plains Trail of Oklahoma – Playa Lakes Loop

Beaver, OK to Beaver, OK

“Within the well-mowed-lawn look of the shortgrass prairie are found playa lakes, the most important wetlands you’ve never heard about. Playa lakes, (shallow, usually round basins with clay floors) lie in the lowest points of watersheds and hold water only after rainfall or runoff from the surrounding prairie. Playas’ natural wet-dry cycles support a diverse plant community as well as specialized plankton and aquatic insects. These high levels of productivity make playas vital wintering and stop over places for migrating waterfowl and shorebirds such as long-billed curlews, greater yellowlegs, black-necked stilts, and American avocets. When you travel the playa lake loop you are experiencing a wetland-type incredibly unique-95% of the world’s playa lakes lie on the western Great Plains! Prairie dog towns also located within this loop support a unique set of wildlife species including burrowing owls, badger s, swift fox, and ferruginous hawks. On the southern edge of the loop is a captivating view from the dam of Optima Lake and the wildlife using this very shallow lake.” —Oklahoma Wildlife & Prairie Heritage Alliance. Find additional information from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife.

Great Plains Trail of Oklahoma – High Plains Loop

Ft. Supply, OK to Ft. Supply, OK

A visit to the High Plains Loop will expel the perception that the Plains are flat! The vistas in this Loop, uniquely positioned between the Cimarron and Beaver Rivers, combines the characteristics of desert streams with those of the humid East. Along the rivers narrow strips of cottonwoods tower over scrubby willows in the understory. Here you will find red headed woodpeckers, wild turkeys and porcupines. On the north side of Beaver River bands of sand dunes are covered with a shrub community of sand plum and fragrant sumac (a.k.a. skunkbrush). Combine sand dunes with bluffs topped by shortgrass prairies along with scattered playas (see description in Loop 2) and the traveler can anticipate this diverse topography yielding up diverse wildlife-viewing opportunities: orioles, Bell’s vireo and painted buntings breed in the sand dune shrubbery; prairie dog towns with their dependent wildlife such as burrowing owls, ferruginous hawks, badgers and Texas horned lizards live in the shortgrass prairies; and waterfowl, shorebirds, and wading birds enjoy plankton productivity in the playas after a rain. —Oklahoma Wildlife & Prairie Heritage Alliance. Find additional information from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife.

Note: Route changed slightly to avoid unpaved portions in original OWPHA map.

Chisholm Trail – US Highway 81

Terral, OK to Renfrow, OK

US Highway 81 covers almost the same path as the old Chisholm Trail, and runs the length of the state through Duncan, Chickasha, Yukon, Okarche, Enid, and Medford. There is a great deal to see and do along this stretch, not least of which is stopping for chicken and beer at Eischen’s in Okarche.

“Located along what is now U.S. 81, the Chisholm Trail is packed with beautiful landscapes and a wildly exciting history. This iconic cattle trail, carved into the red Oklahoma dirt, once provided a pass for south Texas ranchers to distribute beef to northern states. Today, the route winds through charming small towns boasting big landmarks and historical centers. 2017 marks the 150th anniversary of the famed route, and Oklahoma has tons of special events in store. Read on for must-see events and attractions along the way.” —

Great Plains Trail of Oklahoma – Sand Hills Loop (Modified)

“The most striking aspect of the landscape in this Loop is that it is so diverse:  there are shinnery oak mottes, tablelands, the extensive wooded area and springs within Boiling Springs State Park, two sandy-bottomed, wide rivers, and the extensive sand hills covered with mixed-grass prairie and sand sagebrush.  Unique in these sand hills are the shinnery oak mottes, which to the human eye, resemble round gazebos scattered throughout the prairie. Center trees in the mottes reach heights of 10 to 15 feet and their offspring radiate from the center becoming progressively shorter and more closely spaced which effectively eliminates all other plants in the mottes. Although small, these oaks produce heavy crops of acorns and the density of the mottes provide much needed shelter just as gazebos provide shelter for people.  American Pronghorn, mule and white-tailed deer, Northern Bobwhite, scissor-tailed flycatchers and Cassin’s sparrows occur in this diverse landscape.   The endangered least tern nests along the Canadian River and the imperiled lesser prairie chicken can still be heard booming in early spring.” —Oklahoma Wildlife & Prairie Heritage Alliance. Find additional information from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife.

Note: This route has been modified from the original to avoid unpaved or badly paved roads.