Did you have a favorite swimming hole as a child? I’d be willing to bet most Oklahomans did. Some of those places may not exist anymore; they only live in the memories of folks who may still long for one more invigorating swim.
But some of the locations that have been favorites among Oklahomans have fought pretty hard again the passage of time or the progress of man. They seem to have been around forever, and they assure us they will be here far into the future.
The first swimming hole that comes to mind is one I think the majority of Oklahomans have been to: Turner Falls in Davis. The city of Davis operates Turner Falls Park, which is the oldest park in Oklahoma. Even in 1868, it was a crowd-pleasing recreation area.
Today, Turner Falls Park is an extremely popular destination for those who want to enjoy swimming next to a picturesque, 77-foot waterfall. Located on Honey Creek in the beautiful Arbuckle Mountains, Turner Falls not only has a swimming hole that’s hard to beat, but campers will also find RV and tent campgrounds as well as cabins available.
Lake Murray is my next suggestion for a fun swimming hole. The Ardmore Chamber of Commerce claims Lake Murray is one of the 100 best swimming holes in America. It certainly is one of the prettiest in the state, and the park has some fantastic swim beaches. One of the most popular is Martin’s Landing, mostly due to its natural sand.
Sunset Beach and Marina Beach are the largest swimming areas.
You’ll find plenty of outdoor recreational opportunities such as fishing, hiking, horseback riding and paddle boating at Lake Murray State Park. Oklahoma’s first and largest state park consists of more than 12,000 acres and also includes Lake Murray Lodge and the 18-hole Lake Murray Golf Course.
In southeast Oklahoma, you can discover Beavers Bend State Park’s River Bend area, which is always a very busy place in the summer. It is along the shores of Broken Bow Lake and the Mountain Fork River, and people can rent tubes, paddleboats, canoes or just take a swim in the beautiful clear water. If trout fishing is a favorite activity, you’ll be happy to know the trout streams are stocked year-round. You’ll also find some spectacular scenery here. Cabins, campsites and lodge rooms are available in the park.
Next on my list is Tenkiller State Park, about 8 miles north of Gore. It is known as Oklahoma’s “heaven in the hills,” and sunbathers and swimmers flock to the area on the weekends, especially to the swim beach at the Hickory Flats Campground. It features clear water and a spectacular view of the cliffs on the other side of the cove. And scuba divers are in luck: This area features the state’s only underwater dive park, located within the state park. Camping and cabins also are available.
Sometime soon, go swimming the old-fashioned way. Find a fun swimming hole, or return to a favorite from years’ past. Get away from the smell of chlorine and blue-bottomed pools. A little sand and mud between the toes is a good thing and can help create fun memories.
For more fun things to do in Oklahoma, visit the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department website, www.travelok.com. While you are on the site, look in the upper right hand corner, where it says “Request Free Brochures,” and order our free Outdoor Guide. It’ll be in your mailbox in about five to seven days.
Dino Lalli is the producer, co-host and one of the reporters for the travel program “AAA’s Discover Oklahoma.”