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Summer Fun in Southeast Oklahoma

Summer Fun in Southeast Oklahoma

May 24th, 2018 by Lori Dunn in Features

Natural beauty is everywhere in McCurtain County, Okla. Broken Bow Lake and the surrounding forests allow visitors to stop their fast pace and breathe deep even if it's only for the weekend.

Follow a hiking trail that winds through the pine forest or look for hawks and eagles that might be soaring over the lake. It's all right outside your cabin door.


Beavers Bend State Park

Located near Broken Bow in Southeast Oklahoma, Beavers Bend State Park offers something for everyone. But it especially serves as a refuge for those who want to get away from it all.

The park consists of 1,300 acres and contains Broken Bow Lake. Cabins and campsites are available for extended visits.

Individual and group activities include eagle watches, trout fishing, fly fishing clinics and guided horseback rides. Broken Bow Lake is also a favorite of scuba divers. The David L. Boren Trail offers 16 miles that can be divided into both long and short hikes.


Address—4350 State Highway 259A, Broken Bow, Okla., 74728


There is also plenty of opportunity to explore the area's rich history through a number of museums.

Visitors to Beavers Bend State Park can learn more about the creatures who live there when they visit the Beavers Bend Wildlife Museum. The museum includes information about native animals, such as their natural range and feeding habits. It features 11 wildlife dioramas of habitat settings around Oklahoma and the surrounding region.

See and hear elk bugling on a crisp fall morning, wolves howling in a snowy Arctic scene or see fish that live in the legendary Fluecy Creek. Tours are available every hour, as well as customized tours for school and church groups. Religious tours are available by request. The museum is located right inside Beavers Bend State Resort Park.


Address 6594 U.S. 259, Broken Bow, Okla., 74728


Also located inside the park is the Forest Heritage Museum. Operated by the Forest Heritage Center Advisory Board and Oklahoma Forestry Services, the museum houses historical documents, antique forestry tools, wood art, homestead memorabilia and a research library filled with books, periodicals and other materials pertaining to forestry.

Visitors to the museum will view 14 large dioramas that cover Prehistoric Forests, Caddo Indians, papermaking in the South, 1940's lumbering, and forest appreciation. Each diorama is accompanied by a taped narration.

Other exhibits include the Forest Wood Art Gallery, chainsaw carvings, a 100-year-old log cabin from the Kiamichi Mountains and traditional woodworking tools dating from the earliest tools used in the harvesting of timber from the mountains.

For those wishing to learn more about Oklahoma's forests and forest industry, the staff of the Forest Heritage Center Museum can arrange educational programs or tours for any age group by appointment.

Outside the main entrance of the Forest Heritage Center is the Peter Toth Indian Sculpture. The sculpture is one in a 50-state series known as the "Trail of Tears" sculptures by Hungarian artist Peter Toth.


Address—Beavers Bend State Park, U.S. Highway 259, Broken Bow, Okla. 74728



Elsewhere in

McCurtain County

The Jefferson Gardner Mansion and Museum near Eagletown is the one-time home of the "Chief of the Choctaws."

During the relocation of the Choctaw Nation from Mississippi to Oklahoma on the historic "Trail of Tears" in 1831 and 1832, Eagletown (located just east of Broken Bow on U.S. Highway 70) was established as the first Choctaw town in the new Choctaw territory.

This location became a logical stop for all traveling to Oklahoma. From here, the different branches of the tribe dispersed. But Eagletown became known as the anchor point of the Choctaw Nation, and it is here that the local Choctaw Nation became established and thrived.

Jefferson Gardner was born west of the area in 1847 and lived there until his late 1930s as a farmer and livestock keeper, also active in tribal senate. In 1884 he moved to Eagletown and built the mansion, where he resided for the rest of his life. Locally, he worked as a mercantile businessman and he served as Eagletown's postmaster for several years. He was also active in both the town and the Choctaw tribe politically, which is how he came to be elected principal chief of the Choctaw Nation in 1894.

Until recently, the museum offered guided tours of the mansion and an impressive display of Indian artifacts. Unfortunately, the museum is temporarily closed because of the death of its curator.

Outside of the museum is what remains of a 2,000-year-old Cypress tree used as a landmark by Choctaws traveling the Trail of Tears to their designated Indian Territory. When they saw this very large tree, they knew they had finally arrived at their destination. Sadly, the tree was hit by lightning in 1982 and died.



Address—6745 East U.S. Highway 70, Broken Bow, Okla.

Located a short distance north of U.S. Highway 70, northeast of Millerton, Okla., is the Wheelock Mission and Academy, which functioned from 1884 to 1955 as a boarding school for American Indian girls.

The history dates back to 1832 when a Christian missionary couple, Alfred and Harriet Wright, resumed the work they had earlier conducted among the Choctaw in Mississippi. The Choctaw removal from that state to present southeastern Oklahoma began in 1831. The Wrights arrived in the West late in 1832 and soon established a mission station, school and church.


Address—1377 Wheelock Road, Unit C, Garvin, Okla.


The Museum of the Red River is home to art and archaeology from all over the world and also a cast of the nearly 40-feet-long, Acrocanthosaurus atokensis, one of NorthAmerica's largest meat-eating dinosaurs.

The complete skeleton of the dinosaur was found in 1983 near the banks of the Mountain Fork River, just about 20 miles from the museum, by two amateur paleontologists. The cast at the museum is a faithful copy of the original bones with scientifically-determined replacements for the rest.

A $5.5 million addition-renovation to the museum is nearing completion. The new dinosaur gallery, when reopened, will be larger and have several new features. The cast has been temporarily dismantled and placed in storage.


Address—812 Lincoln Road, Idabel, Okla., 74745. museumoftheredriver.org



Southeast Oklahoma may be known for the great outdoors, but psychedelic pizza, gourmet burgers and live music are proving there is plenty to do here indoors also.

A few miles north of Broken Bow, Okla., Hochatown has restaurants and shops everywhere you look. Cabins are popping up like mushrooms to accommodate the tourists who flood the area each weekend.

Putt-putt golf and a petting zoo offer something for the children. The adults can unwind with wine tastings and fine dining.

Abendigo's Grill & Patio is a casual restaurant dubbing itself "The Hochatown Original."

Established in 2002, it features live music, great food, a sports bar and a coffee shop.

Food is their passion, along with ensuring their guests are taken care of in every way. In keeping with their love of food and customer service, Abendigo's crafts menu offerings on a seasonal basis to ensure ingredients are at their best.

The spacious, well-appointed patio is a place to enjoy music, family and friends in a natural, relaxed and beautiful setting. Abendigo's also offers gifts and apparel.

Phone580 494-7222

Address259 Stevens Gap Road, Broken Bow, Okla. 74728


The Blue Rooster offers seafood such as fried fish and shrimp are the main items on the menu here, but there are other options as well. Diners can eat inside or outside and both offer a rustic atmosphere.


Address—U.S. Highway 259, Hochatown, Okla. 74728



Girl's Gone Wine is a boutique winery, tasting room and gift shop founded by three friends. Girl's Gone Wine offers a festive atmosphere for couples or groups of friends to experience. There are 15 original wines — produced, bottled, and labeled by Girls Gone Wine. The wines are fermented, bottled and corked on site and the juices come from vineyards around the world.

Phone—580-306-WINE (9463)

Address—10216 Highway 259, Broken Bow, Okla. 74728


Another local winery is Vojai's Winery. Look for its distinctive building and the horse logo on the sign.

Wine can be enjoyed both indoors or on the outdoor patio. The equine theme extends to the names of some of the wines. Visitors can sample "Night Horse" and "Red Horse" red wines and "Running Wild" and "White Horse Running" white wines.

Phone—580-494-POUR (7687)

Address—9983 U.S. 259, Broken Bow, Okla. 74728


Owner Vojai Reed is also co-owner of the nearby shop "We Fudge a Little and Coffee a Lot." Fresh gourmet fudge and signature coffee and tea can be enjoyed after the wine tastings.

For those who enjoy shopping, visitors to Janet's Treasure Chest can find gifts or souvenirs for almost anyone. Janet's includes five rooms full of collectibles, home decor such as pillows and photo frames, toys, Oklahoma souvenirs and candy.

Outside, the collection of statues in front of the store will catch the eye of any passing motorists and are worth a closer look. Some of the massive statues include wolves, horses, deer and even the elusive Big Foot. Tourists can even pose for a photo with a friendly Big Foot statue outside the front door. And plenty of trinkets with the big monster's likeness can be found inside.

Cabins in the area can also be booked inside through Beavers Bend Lodging.


Address—6261 N. U.S. Highway 259, Broken Bow, Okla. 74728

Housed in an old train car, Rolling Fork Takery offers something a little different. It's healthy meals that can be ordered and paid for online and then picked up ready to go.

Phone—580-494-ROLL (7655)

Address—5 Coho Road, Hochatown, Okla., 74728


Looking for good food with a fun, psychedelic atmosphere? You need to drop in at the Grateful Head. The restaurant serves up pizza, live music and plenty of ambience. Walls are decorated with Grateful Dead posters and old albums and the unique mascot, a bear with antlers, watches over everything.

The Grateful Head also offers diners the chance to be the creator of their own pizza. Start with a fresh cheese pizza and then add the topics of your choice.


Address—10271 U.S. Highway 259, Hochatown, Okla. 74728


Since it opened just a few months ago, Hochatown Saloon has already hosted concerts by Cody Canada and the Bellamy Brothers. With a stage, dance floor and a second level, the Saloon should see plenty of other concerts in the future.

By day, the Saloon is a restaurant that serves a variety of hamburgers and sandwiches.


Address—28 Old Hochatown Road, Broken Bow, Okla. 74728


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