Things to Do in the Ozark Mountains of Oklahoma

by Christopher Raines
The historic

The historic "Route 66" passes through the Oklahoma Ozarks.

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The Ozark Mountains span portions of Arkansas, Missouri, the extreme southeastern part of Kansas and northeastern Oklahoma. According to the Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History, elevations in the Ozark Plateau range from 650 feet to 1,600 feet above sea level. Historic U.S. Highway 66 runs through the Ozark Plateau in Oklahoma. The region includes state parks, lakes, historical sites and casinos operated by American Indian tribes. These venues offer opportunities for recreation, entertainment, learning about the history and heritage in the region, and observing natural settings.

State Parks

Several state parks dot the Ozark region of Oklahoma. These parks afford recreational opportunities, such as hiking, fishing, picnicking and biking, and natural scenes. The Osage Hills State Park in Pawhuska includes trails for mountain bicyclists. The Natural Falls State Park near West Siloam Springs features a 77-foot waterfall and was the backdrop for several scenes in the 1974 movie "Where the Red Fern Grows."

Grand Lake O' the Cherokees

Located in the Ozark foothills, Grand Lake O' the Cherokees has a 1,300-mile shoreline and covers 46,500 surface acres. The lake's southwest-to-northeast orientation allows a prevailing wind for sailing. Attractions in the area include a winery, museum for custom cars, a four-wheeling area at the base of Pensacola Dam, and the Picture in the Scripture Amphitheater (, which presents a drama based upon the Bible's account of Jonah in the belly of a great fish.

Historical Sites

The forced relocation of Cherokee Indians from the southeastern United States -- the "Trail of Tears" -- brought a sizable Indian population to Cherokee County, Oklahoma. Tahlequah, the county seat and the tribe's historical capital, houses the Cherokee Capitol building, Cherokee Supreme Court and Cherokee Jail, all of which are on the National Register of Historic Sites. Fort Gibson, a National Historic Landmark, served as a staging ground for military explorations and relation-building missions with American Indians and as a post during the Civil War, Reconstruction and Indian Wars. The landmark includes a replica of the log fort and original buildings from 1840 to 1870.


American Indian tribes operate casinos in the Ozark region of Oklahoma. The Seneca-Cayuga Tribe offers gaming, dining and entertainment through the Grand Lake Casino ( The Osage Casino (, operated by the Osage Nation, has casinos throughout northeastern Oklahoma, including Tulsa and Pawhuska. Casinos in the Miami, Oklahoma area include Quapaw Casino ( of the Quapaw tribe and the High Winds Casino ( of the Ottawa tribe.

About the Author

Christopher Raines enjoys sharing his knowledge of business, financial matters and the law. He earned his business administration and law degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As a lawyer since August 1996, Raines has handled cases involving business, consumer and other areas of the law.

Photo Credits

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