Hiking, Kayaking and Camping in Beaver's Bend, Oklahoma
June 20, 2020
Broken Bow Lake and Beavers Bend State Park are located in the scenic southeast corner of the state of Oklahoma. This entire corner of Oklahoma belongs to the Choctaw Nation. The Chocktaw came to the area in 1830, after being removed from their land in what is now Mississippi. This forced relocation was a part of what is known as the Trail of Tears. Today, the Choctaw Nation is a thriving nation with nearly 200,000 people and owns many local businesses.
The area of Broken Bow offers a wide variety of outdoor activities. It is a great place to go boating, hiking, paddling, biking or even ziplining. The region makes for a relaxing and adventurous escape and is only a three hour drive from Dallas.
Please make it a priority to Leave No Trace when exploring the outdoors. This includes leaving nothing behind, respecting wildlife, minimizing campfire impacts, respecting those around you, planning ahead and traveling on durable surfaces. For more details, read about the seven principles at lnt.org.
There are a lot of cabins available to rent in Broken Bow and Beavers Bend, but I opted for camping in Beavers Bend State Park.
I found the process of choosing a campsite a little bit confusing, so hopefully this information will help if you would like to camp there! On the Travel OK booking site, you first choose between the Hochatown or the Beavers Bend area.
The Beavers Bend area is closer to the activities that I wanted to do: hiking and paddling. My understanding is that the Hochatown part of the park does not have many activities unless you are bringing a boat and want lake access.
I stayed at the Hickory campsite Beavers Bent part of the park. The campsite had beautiful views of the river, but I found the sites to be very close together and the pit toilets there to be really gross. I would recommend a site at the Elm section instead. There are only four tent spots there, they are more secluded and really close to the nice indoor restroom.
There is no entrance gate or check in at the park entrance. You just drive in and claim your campsite. I definitely recommend reserving your campsite in advance, but I saw other’s scouting around for an empty site throughout the day. I did not have any cellular service in the park, so be prepared to locate your site before you arrive.
I am not sure how common it is to have Oklahoma state troopers running license checks in the park, but I encountered a checkpoint on the way to the camp store, within the boundaries of the park. Make sure to bring your drivers license and dated insurance paperwork with you, since I couldn’t reach the internet on my phone during the stop.
Overall, I’ve had a lot better experience with camping in Texas State Parks. However, this is a great budget option if you are traveling to the area, as the cabins can get very expensive.
The best part of our campsite was the view of the Mountain Fork River. I would probably get a cabin next time I’m in the area, but I’m really glad I tried out the camping and saved some money!
There are practically endless options of cabin rentals in the area, varying in price, size and location. Some of the cabins have minimum stay requirements (like four nights!), so keep that in mind if you are looking for a weekend trip. Check out the Five Star Cabins to be close to the park at a decent price.
For a great view of Broken Bow Lake, check out the Lakeside Lodge located inside of the State Park. It has beautiful views, complimentary breakfast and is a little cheaper than most cabins.
Beavers Bend State Park has several hiking trails, but the Friends Loop Trail offers some of the best views. The trail just opened in 2019 and is 1.5 miles roundtrip. The trail is so new that it's not printed on many of the public maps of the park as of writing. It takes you through the forest and then along the dam bypass river, offering beautiful views of the water.
For something more challenging, try the Lookout Mountain Loop (2.9 miles round trip) which has some steep up and down hills. There isn’t much of a lookout but it's a beautiful journey through the forest. For something a bit shorter, try the short Cedar Bluff Nature Trail (.9 miles). It has a great view looking over Broken Bow Lake.
We only had time for the Friends Loop Trail because it started storming on the second morning of our trip. The trail was really nice though, very well maintained and had beautiful views. I would definitely recommend it!
You have to get on the water while visiting Broken Bow and paddling down the rapids of Mountain Fork River is a great way to do it! There are many kayak rental operators in the area but we decided to rent from Tippa Canoe. We parked at Tippa Canoe and they shuttled us up river to the Mountain Fork Park, just below the De-regulation Dam. It was then about a four hour paddling journey back to Tippa Canoe.
This trip is an extremely popular place to kayak, it was very crowded! The main appeal of the journey is that you go over Class 2+ Rapids and over a three foot waterfall. We rented a tandem kayak and it consistently got stuck on top of rocks. I recommend renting single kayaks instead. We had such a great time throughout this adventure, the trip was beautiful and a lot of fun.
While the trip down the river was scary at times (the rapids are intense!), the scenery was fantastic. Going over the waterfall was especially fun, but I’m just glad we didn’t flip the kayak!
There is a photographer that takes everyone’s photo right as they go over the waterfall and puts them online for sale. It’s a genius business idea, we couldn’t resist buying it.
Complete your day exploring Broken Bow and Beavers Bend with dinner and drinks in town! There are several wineries, breweries and restaurants in the area.
If you like breweries, check out Mountain Fork Brewery for pizza, burgers and delicious beer (try the Sneaky Snake Beer) or the Beavers Bend Brewery for a great patio and to try a beer with a jalapeno flavor (Hoppin’ Jalapeno Ale).
If you are more of a wine drinker, check out one of the many wineries like the popular Girls Gone Wine for a fun experience that includes shopping or Fish Tails Wine to enjoy your drinks in a cute house.
Kayak rental and hiking are my top recommendations, but if you are staying longer, there are many more activities to check out. For more outdoor adventures, zipline through the forest and towards Broken Bow Lake at Rugaru Adventures or rent an ATV or boat with Bandits ATV and Boat Rental. For an indoor activity, check out the Forest Heritage Center Museum to learn about a variety of topics relating to forestry.
The Eiffel Tower is located at the town’s civic center and has a large cowboy hat on top, making it feel so very “Texas." The statue of Jesus wearing cowboy boots is located in the Evergreen Cemetery and is part of the memorial for Willet Babcock. The late Babcock commissioned the memorial to be made for himself before he died in 1881.
Jesus wearing cowboy boots wasn’t hard to find inside of the cemetery. It is located on 5th St SE.
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