Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Day Trips from Dallas - Turner Falls, Oklahoma

I'll kick off this blog with a series about day trips that can be done from Dallas.  Here's the first installment, and my most recent trip, over the Memorial Day weekend - Turner Falls, Oklahoma.

You don't exactly expect to see mountains. much less mountains with a waterfall, in southern Oklahoma, but then again, that's what makes travel interesting.  My wife and I went to Turner Falls Park mainly to see the namesake falls and to hike, but the park also offers tubing and swimming in Honey Creek, as well as camping.  The park also claims to have several "caves", but these were really just some old, abandoned buildings.  


The falls.



One of the "caves", an abandoned building known as "The Castle".  The person who first owned the land that later became Turner Falls Park apparently built this structure in 1930 and used it as a summer home.



The Arbuckle Mountains.


Wildflowers in bloom, including a somewhat hard-to-find cactus bloom.

A squirrel that's apparently not too thrilled about my presence.  Don't tell my cat Hercules, though.  I don't want to give him any ideas.


How to Get There, How Much Time Do I Need, and How Much Does it Cost

Turner Falls Park is located just off I-35, Exit 51, 5 miles south of Davis or 127 miles north of Dallas.  It is a 1 1/2 to 2 hour drive from the Metroplex, depending on where exactly you are.  Admission is $12 per person ($4 during the winter season).  If you just want to see the falls, you can be in and out in 30 minutes.  Allow 2-3 hours if you want to do the entire scenic drive through the park and do some hiking.

For more information, including campsite rates, visit the park's website at http://www.turnerfallspark.com.

Best Time to Visit


The park is open year-round.  However, as anyone familiar with North Texas can attest, the weather can be, shall we say, uncomfortably warm from mid-May through late September.  Plan accordingly if you plan to hike, but don't like dealing with the heat.  

Things to Be Aware Of

There is a viewing area in front of the falls, but except for a small area off to the right, getting up close requires wading through Honey Creek.  The water is only a few inches deep, but if you don't want to get wet, go up Butterfly Road and view the falls from the viewpoint at the top of the hill instead. 

Also, while most of the park's trails are easy, it is a steep climb up to The Castle.

Serving Suggestions


- Bring a picnic basket and enjoy lunch at one of the park's many picnic areas.
- On the way home, stop at Arbuckle Mountain Fried Pies (I-35 Exit 51), and enjoy a, er, fried pie.
- If you have extra time, head over to Sulphur (9 miles east of Davis on State Highway 7) and visit the Chickasaw National Recreation Area.  We just had our picnic there, but definitely want to return later to check out the hiking trails.  Whatever you do, though, DON'T drink the spring water - it has a nasty sulphur taste.

The Verdict


Worth a visit if you're looking for something inexpensive yet fun to do on a weekend.

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