In Oklahoma’s Chickasaw Country, home to the Chickasaw Nation, history and breathtaking natural wonders await.
Known for First American and Wild West history, as well as country music and Route 66 relics, Oklahoma sits at a unique crossroads in the USA’s Southwest. In south-central Oklahoma, Chickasaw Country is known for its diverse scenery, historical sites and expansive recreational areas. Any trip to Chickasaw County must include exploring Oklahoma’s picturesque landscapes and visiting cultural centers dedicated to the Chickasaw people and the Chisholm Trail.
Journey to the Past at the Chickasaw Cultural Center
Located in quaint, small-town Sulphur in the heart of Chickasaw Country, the Chickasaw Cultural Center provides an interactive experience that goes beyond the Chickasaw Nation’s vibrant history. At the Chikasha Poya Exhibit Center, the majestic Spirit Forest is brought to life through an array of lights, colors and sound effects that illustrate the Chickasaw Nation’s deep connection to the natural world. In the Mosaic Room, marvel at an etched glass replica of a 1723 deerskin map that shows the significant geographical, political, trade and diplomatic relationships the Chickasaw Nation had with surrounding tribes. In the Exhibit Hall, interactive stations, artifact reproductions and graphic displays provide glimpses into the past. The Removal Corridor highlights the Chickasaw people’s powerful resilience and strength, as it touches on the hardships forced upon Chickasaws after the Indian Removal Act. Outside, spend time experiencing the Traditional Village, a historic recreation of a Chickasaw village from the 1700s. See the council house, summer houses, winter houses and a raised corn crib, as well as a stickball field and palisade fence. Visitors can participate in interactive events, including cultural arts and stomp dance demonstrations, language lessons and more.
A hands-on demonstration in the Traditional Village at the Chickasaw Cultural Center
Hit the Trails at the Chickasaw National Recreation Area
The Chickasaw National Recreation Area, also in Sulphur, attracts outdoors enthusiasts from around the world with its stunning scenery, wildlife, hiking trails and natural wonders such as rambling rivers, cascading waterfalls and expansive lakes. Start by hiking the 3.9-kilometer Bromide Hill Trail beginning at the Travertine Nature Center. Explore exhibits featuring details on the forest system of southern Oklahoma as well insights into the park’s geology, flora and wildlife. From there, continue along the trail next to a spring-fed river that provides spectacular views of small waterfalls. Make sure to check out Little Niagara, a photo-worthy cascade that also creates a perfect swimming hole. Once you’ve cooled off, head to Bison Overlook. This reserved portion of the upland prairie is a great spot to view a small herd of American bison roaming. The Chickasaw National Recreation Area also offers campgrounds for overnight stays and a variety of water activities such as boating and fishing on Lake of the Arbuckles.
Wading atop Little Niagara, a small waterfall in the Chickasaw National Recreation Area
Discover the Wild West at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
From riding a bucking bronco to hearing tall tales about cattle drives beside a crackling campfire, the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan (about an hour from Sulphur) is an interactive experience you won’t forget. The center is a celebration of the Chisholm Trail, an essential route in the USA’s cattle ranching history that spans from Texas to Kansas. Tour the Garis Gallery of the American West, which features one of the largest collections of western and Indigenous American art. You’ll see life-size bronze sculptures and vibrant paintings depicting cattle drives, landscapes and lifelike portraits. The Interactive Gallery provides the chance to rope a Longhorn steer and create a custom brand at the Branding Station, while the T.H. McCasland, Jr. Experience Theater lets you get up close and personal to a real stampede through an immersive 4D display. Feel the rumble of hoofbeats as cattle run through a thunderstorm, and take in the aromas of wildflowers on the prairie and bacon frying over the campfire. Wrap up your visit with a trip back in time at the Duncan General Store. This reproduction of the original structure built in 1892 offers the chance to gather eggs from the chicken coop or try your luck at a game of checkers.
Viewing art in the Garis Gallery of the American West at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
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