October 5, 2023

Stressed? Plan an Oklahoma fall foliage trip

I was not going to write about fall foliage this year. Then, I saw the state fall foliage map, and I was hooked … again.

The official website of the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department has a map of “Spectacular Fall Foliage Drives” to help you plan your trip to take in the amazing fall scenery in our state. The map will give you 14 Fall Foliage Routes.

As the days slowly become shorter and the weather takes on that wonderful crisp feeling, nature kicks into gear and brings the color in an inspiring and beautiful manner. It is almost as if nature takes on the persona of an artist, and with a giant paintbrush creates this gorgeous scenery for all of us to admire. It is one of the main reasons this is my favorite time of the year.

When it comes to fall foliage, northwest Oklahoma is an under-appreciated part of the state and offers a thrilling alternative. The map on the tourism website highlights destinations such as Roman Nose State Park, Boiling Springs State Park and Great Salt Plains State Park as places where you can see some of the pageantry of fall foliage.

For the Oklahoma Panhandle, it is classified as a part of the Central Shortgrass Prairie by botanists. The area is rich with buffalo grass, and the blue gamma grasses take on their own fall splendor. With the changing of the season, they become subtle hues of red, gold, yellow-bronze and blue. You can think of it as fall foliage without all the trees.

Many of the plants you see in western Cimarron County are not found anywhere else in Oklahoma, which is extremely exciting for a plant lover. The colors tend to be more subtle, but you do see broomweed, with its millions of tiny yellow flowers and the blazing stars, with the reddish-purple blooms. One also can find Indian grass, with its tall golden tufts. But then you add the colors of the rocks and the dazzling landscapes, and you can have a different kind of fall foliage experience.

Of course, the Talimena National Scenic Byway in southeast Oklahoma is one of the most popular destination for fall foliage drives. And the scenery along Broken Bow Lake and the Mountain Fork River is stunning.

Oklahoma’s Green Country in the northeastern part of the state is another popular area for those who want to see nature’s fall foliage landscape. South central Oklahoma around the Chickasaw National Recreation Area is another. In southwest Oklahoma, blackjack and post oaks in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge provide a color spectacular show.