BEAVERS BEND RESORT PARK — Tucked away in the southeast corner of the state, Beavers Bend State Park by Broken Bow Lake feels far removed from city life and from the flat terrain that makes up much of western and central Oklahoma.
Ask people in Oklahoma City about the area, and many will say, “I've heard it's beautiful,” or “I've always wanted to go there,” but fewer will say they have made the trek.
After spending a weekend there this year, I can now agree with the “beautiful” assessment about southeast Oklahoma and then answer back: “Don't wait. Go. Take your children. Enjoy your family. And then reserve your cabin for a return trip, because you're going to want to explore it some more.”
The mountainous hills and thick trees make for a scenic drive that is about four hours (about 260 miles) from Oklahoma City to the state park in McCurtain County via the town of Broken Bow.
It's just far enough away from the city that you feel like you have made a true transition to an out-of-state vacation or gone on a major getaway, but it's close enough to make it a peaceful weekend trip with your family. The area is even closer to Dallas than it is Oklahoma City, about 203 miles away.
Beavers Bend Resort Park, which includes Beavers Bend State Park, Hochatown State Park, Lakeview Lodge and Cedar Creek Golf Course, is located in the foothills of the Kiamichi Mountains and on the edge of Broken Bow Lake. I imagine that the thick foliage on the mountains there would make it as pretty to visit in the fall as it is in the spring and summer.
When my children and I got there, we didn't want to leave our log cabin, which was almost hidden in the woods, surrounded by 100-foot-tall pine trees, about two miles from Beavers Bend State Park. Called Bella Lodge and managed by Broken Bow Cabin Lodging, the knotty wood cabin is one of many the property group has available for rent.
This cabin included all kinds of luxuries — a hot tub, a full kitchen with granite countertops, a telescope in the living room that allowed outdoor views through big panel windows, leather couches and upscale decor, a foosball table, an outdoor grill, large flat-screen TV with cable, a play set for young visitors, shelves full of board games and long, wide porches on all sides of the house for enjoying the outdoor sounds and silence.
Bella Lodge was a vacation treat on its own, but we pried ourselves away from it long enough to explore our new weekend spot. We felt like we could choose to do as little or as much as we wanted and enjoy activity and rest equally there.
So we canoed and kayaked on the Lower Mountain Fork River, hiked along one of the easy David Boren Trails in the Cedar Bluff area of the park, played miniature golf at Hochatown Amusements in nearby Hochatown and walked along the docks at Beavers Bend Marina on Broken Bow Lake, looking at houseboats.
We enjoyed the hot tub and the porch of our cabin and cooked in for dinner. We ventured out to eat a yummy lunch at the Grateful Head Pizza Oven and Taproom in Hochatown. We stopped at the landmark Girls Gone Wine store, which includes wine tastings and a gift store.
We even quickly toured the Forest Heritage Center Museum in Beavers Bend Resort Park. Operated by the Forest Heritage Center Advisory Board and Oklahoma Forestry Services, it features dioramas showcasing the area's forestry history. Admission is free.
On the Lower Mountain Fork River, our kayak and canoe trip took my kids and me down a serene 2½-mile stretch, where we floated in between tall, rocky cliffs and drifted by a grove of old bald cypress trees growing directly out of the water. When we hiked the cliffs above the river later that afternoon, we could see the same cypress trees far below us. The bald cypress is native to the area, and while the grove of trees on the river is small, the trees are noticeable because they are tall and their roots are underwater.
I wish we had had time to ride horses and go tubing on the lake with its clear, pristine water. We'd go kayaking again. Whitewater rafting available in certain areas also sounds compelling. So do more hiking and exploring wildlife on the trails or playing golf at Cedar Creek Golf Course.
Our fun weekend was too short — we left plenty to do for the next time we visit the Beavers Bend area. But my children and I are certainly glad we discovered it, thanks to the McCurtain County Tourism Authority. Our weekend ended up being a true getaway from the Oklahoma scenery with which we are familiar, and it reminded us how diverse the state truly is in its beauty and geography.
Accommodations provided by the McCurtain County Tourism Authority and arranged by Jim Drewitz of Creative Options Communications.
Some of the photos of the cabin, hiking trails and Hochatown were taken with a Samsung Galaxy Camera on loan from Verizon.