Touring Oklahoma is a quintessentially American experience. In this state in the southwest of the USA the old pioneering spirit still lives, here you can experience untroubled wild west romance. Together with impressive landscapes, interesting cities, a section of the legendary ” Route 66 “, rodeos and a huge range of sports opportunities, this results in a mixture that promises an unforgettable vacation.
Oklahoma has the proud number of six neighbors. It borders Arkansas and Missouri to the east, Kansas to the north, and shares the border with Colorado in the northwest. To the south Texas and in the extreme southwest finally borders Oklahoma to New Mexico. The state is characterized by large plains (“Great Plains”). There are also mountain ranges, but they are rather the exception. If that sounds a bit boring now, then it is a misunderstanding! Oklahoma has a total of 35 state parks in which one adventure follows the next. Waterfalls, great lakes, rivers and gorges, plus a thousand opportunities to observe animals in the wild – one vacation is not enough to actually experience all of these natural beauties.
As highlights, the visitor should not miss the Natural Falls State Park with its impressive waterfalls and the Grand Lake of the Cherokees. Speaking of Cherokees. The Native Americans play an important role in Oklahoma. Even the name of the state comes from an Indian language. “Okla” means “human” and “Humma” stands for “red”. From this it can already be concluded that today’s Oklahoma once belonged to the Indians.
Oklahoma’s nickname “Sooner State” is unfortunately not a glory for the ancestors of today’s residents. You have already settled much sooner than allowed in the area of the Indians. The first settlers from Europe pitched their tents there before the US government of the time bought the land from the Indians. To date, Oklahoma is one of the states with the highest proportion of Indians in the population. The most strongly represented tribes are the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muskogee, and the Seminoles.
On the trail of history
The fact that in Oklahoma Indians and settlers had to find a way to live together is reflected in the country’s culture. The Indians are proud of their ancestors and their traditions, which still keep them alive. But the settlers also maintain their history and the associated cowboy romance. It’s worth getting to know both poles. In the “Cherokee Heritage Center” in Tahlequah, the visitor follows the “Trail of Tears”, the trail of the tears that the Indians wept when they were driven out. Here, in a museum village, the visitor gets an impression of the life of the Indians before they had contact with the Europeans. Also definitely worth seeing: “Standing Bear Park”, a museum and information center in Ponca City, which is named after the famous chief Standing Bear.
In the “Oklahoma History Center” in the capital Oklahoma City, attempts are made to reconcile the past and the present. Indian craftsmen exhibit here and here you can listen to fascinating stories that have only been passed down orally for generations. By the way: Germans have also settled in Oklahoma since 1800. They worked in the mines and helped build the railroad. Many Oktoberfest festivals are still celebrated in Oklahoma today.
On the other hand, of course, the cowboys also have their place in Oklahoma. In the capital, the “National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum” is an essential part of the visit. If you are in Tulsa, the “Gilcrease Museum” should not be missed. Thomas Gilcrease was a very rich oil baron who collected “Western art”. He put together a very impressive collection that today includes more than 10,000 exhibits. When the magnate ran into financial difficulties in the 1950s, the city of Tulsa made sure that the collection did not have to be torn apart.
Festivals and activities
Oklahoma has such a jam-packed festival calendar that it’s impossible to pick out “highlights”. Because what the Victorian Christmas market in Oklahoma City may be for one, it may be for the next Stephens Country Free Fair in Duncan; a feast for the palate of those who are curious about local specialties. There are autumn festivals with guided tours through forests with particularly beautiful foliage; there are rodeo events; there are culinary, ethnic, musical and thousands of other types of festivals. It will therefore be difficult to escape the festival boom on the trip. So rather go into the fray with enthusiasm! By the way, children are also well catered for in Oklahoma. The state has of zoos and aquariums.