A couple of months ago, we took you on a journey to the Texas Panhandle and offered up one perfect outdoor destination for the whole family before spring break.
That was a trip to Palo Duro Canyon.
Now, just as the kids are finishing up school before summer vacation, here’s another perfect outdoor destination.
Curtis Jackson and I found it on another tour of Texoma, a little farther from home.
Cheston Cooper’s family is a long way from their home in Houston.
They’re about ten miles north of Broken Bow, Oklahoma in Beavers Bend State Park.
“We can’t wait to find what’s next in this park,” Cooper said. “It’s a big enough park in that, you’ve got the lake to explore. You’ve got these streams. There are wonderful trails to hike that, we did guys, we did one yesterday what about two miles?” “Yes.” “Yes, so we did a great hike that was up to the top of some of these bluffs.”
At Beavers Bend, Cooper’s family is in touch with nature.
Cooper: “They’re not in front of the screens and not dealing with their video games. They’re out playing. They’re being kids and we get to share our love of geology with them.”
“People just want to get out and in the outdoors and recreate,” Assistant Park Manager Mike Silleby said. “They want to see the country. They want to see the animals. They want to see the trees and breathe the fresh air.”
Silleby said Beavers Bend used to average between 900,000 to a 1,000,000 visitors a year.
The last few years, the numbers are closer to 1.3 million.
Silleby: “We’ve got hiking, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, we’ve got a train ride, we have horseback riding, fishing. We have a dedicated trout stream. It just runs the gamut. We have a museum.”
“One of my dad’s good buddies from childhood told him about this place and said there’s big rainbow trout here,” Warren Ross said, who is from Baton Rouge. “So, we’re here now.”
Ross is fifteen.
Ross: “I love the scenery and I haven’t caught many fish here, but the few fish I have caught are awesome. I’m loving it.”
“It’s just a beautiful spot,” said Randy Hardin, from Lubbock. “It’s got so many different places to fish and different many varieties of fishing, type of fishing.”
This is Hardin’s third time to Beavers Bend, the first in four or five years.
Hardin: “We really didn’t recognize any of this area. It’s just completely different than what it was back before that.” “And, what’s your opinion of it now?” “Oh, it’s really pretty. They’ve done a really good job of fixing it up and making the fishing areas really nice and sensible.”
Darrell Franklin/Reporting: “So much to do and see including this waterfall built by the great flood of 2015 when they had to open the flood gates of Broken Bow Lake. All of those flood waters washed downstream, created even more beautiful rapids, washed out the bridge built by the Army Corps of Engineers, now rebuilt more beautiful than ever. Look what else it created.”
“Where the rock and the vegetation meet, that’s how high the flood waters were, but it did create a beautiful landscape for people to come and enjoy,” said Silleby. ” Other than all the damage it did, and we were closed about two months, it really created something different and unique I don’t think you’ll see anywhere else in the state.”
“It’s just amazing,” Chris Dahl said who is from the Metroplex. “It really is. Coming over this bridge, we looked out here and saw the rapids. Like, we have to stop and check it out.” “It’s beautiful. I mean it absolutely is breathtaking.”
Amanda Purdy is from the Metroplex too, and they are also on their third trip to Beavers Bend.
Purdy & Dahl: “Seeing all the people fishing and having fun, and these folks over here swimming, everybody’s having a great time and it’s beautiful.” “It might be a yearly vacation for us.”
Train engineer: “I want to welcome you aboard the CP Huntington. My name is Joe Morgan and I’ll be your engineer today.”
Engineer Joe Morgan says this is a replica of a train built in 1863, and it really does offer another great perspective of the park.
“Lots of wildlife,” said Gayla Hardaway from Beavers Bend Depot & Trail Rides. “The deer, we feed the deer off the train. The deer comes up to the train, and they can feed ’em. They love it. The deer and the wildlife are abundant.”
Curtis Jackson/KFDX Reporter, Chief Photojournalist: “That was fun…”
Hardaway says their beautiful horses aren’t just a big hit with the younger kids.
Hardaway: “Even the teenagers, it gives them something to do along with the little kids. We have them from age five on upstarts their own horse, and as old as you want to be to ride.”
“I like seeing the wildlife and just riding my horse and enjoying it,” said Sierra Hardaway.
If rain happens to move in, or you just want to find some fascinating displays on the timber industry, even a link to Smokey the Bear, spend some time in The Oklahoma Forest Heritage Center Museum.
Silleby: “Harry Rossoll was creator of Smokey Bear. He was commissioned to come and paint these dioramas here in this museum, which is really cool.”
Also here inside the museum: antique woodworking tools and fascinating wood art.
“This is God reaching down to Adam,” museum volunteer Carold Johnson said. “This is 9 different woods incorporated in this.”
It’s known as the Wood Art Capital of Oklahoma for good reason.
Beavers Bend State Park offers 48 cabins and a 40 room lodge on beautiful Broken Bow Lake.
The park offers an abundance of activities.
“Whether you want to fish or hike,” said Cooper, ” you just want to sit down and enjoy the water, very cold, yes, an incredibly photogenic area that’s very family friendly. We are thrilled with it.”
It’s a thrill that can be found on just one tank of gas, in another Texoma, just a little farther from home.
By the way, they’re able to keep the river so cold for trout by recirculating water from the bottom of the lake.
You’ll find the expanding Broken Bow area and Beavers Bend State Park in southeast Oklahoma.
It’s about the same distance as Palo Duro Canyon from Wichita Falls, only the other direction.