Broken Bow is home to one of our finest parks: Beavers Bend. The park is built around beautiful Broken Bow Lake and the Lower Mountain Fork River. This is a special place that holds many memories for my family.
Things to do
The Lower Mountain Fork is Oklahoma’s only whitewater river, and that’s what first brought me to Beavers Bend as a Boy Scout. It brought us back years later on our honeymoon. The river features some awesome rapids, and there are several local outfitters to set you up with a canoe or kayak. There is also a slower section of the river inside the park for the less intrepid.
The river is stocked year-round with rainbow and brown trout, and you can really tear ’em up if you time it right. The water is also ice-cold, and it’s the best way to cool off in the summer. During a visit in the burning hot summer of 2009, my brothers and I basically spent the entire daylight hours submerged in the river.
Broken Bow Lake is a great place for boating and fishing, and a long-standing state record largemouth was caught there. Also, I learned that alligators frequent the northern fringes of the lake. It would have been nice to know before I went swimming.
Beavers Bend is also home to the Forest Heritage Center, a museum highlighting southeast Oklahoma’s forests and the timber industry. I know that sounds boring, but the history of the old lumber camps is actually fascinating. If you really do find it boring, there’s some sweet woodcarvings you can check out. There is also a nature center where you can check out some local wildlife.
It took several visits to Beavers Bend before we finally tried out a hiking trail. Water is the main attraction, and it’s tough to step away from the lake and river. Also, there are bears…and possibly bigfoot. Need I say more? However, we found the trails to be nice and non-human biped-free.
If you have young kids, stop by the Beavers Bend Depot for a train ride! That’s also where the stables are located, if you’re in the mood for traveling on horseback.
The first time I stayed at Beavers Bend, it was in a tent…in June. Oklahoma’s weather varies pretty widely, but that year was just plain hot. However, southeast Oklahoma has very mild weather throughout the rest of the year, so don’t rule out tent camping once the burning months have passed.
The park offers more-or-less rustic cabins, which I haven’t tried yet. If you’re a fan of nicer accommodations, check out the many privately-owned cabins in the Broken Bow/Hochatown area. Look for my recommendation in the links below (and break out your wallet; we haven’t been back since we started having kids).
On our last two visits, we stayed in the Lakeview Lodge, which sits on a hillside overlooking (you guessed it) the lake. At dusk, a large herd of whitetails frequents the lawn behind the lodge. I also discovered that the front desk will give you a free cup of feed corn to bring them in closer.
Keep in mind that if you stay in the lodge or at a cabin outside the park, you will probably spend some time driving back and forth.
Lastly, there’s some INSANE food in the Broken Bow area. More on that in a future post.
Beavers Bend is probably our best state park, and possibly the greatest outdoor attraction in the state. Get out there!
Beavers Bend State Park: www.travelok.com/listings/view.profile/id.422
Heartpine Hollow Cabins: http://heartpinehollow.com/