Discover Top 10 Stunning Oklahoma Scenic Drives to Enjoy Nature Away from People

Oklahoma, a state often associated with vast plains and rich cultural history, offers an array of scenic drives that provide an immersive experience into its natural and historical beauty.

This article delves into some of the most breathtaking scenic drives in Oklahoma, offering a guide for those seeking a tranquil escape into nature and history.

  1. Talimena National Scenic Byway: Stretching 54 miles along the crest of Rich Mountain and Winding Stair Mountain in the Ouachita National Forest, the Talimena Scenic Byway is a jewel in Oklahoma’s crown. The drive, taking approximately an hour and 10 minutes without stops, offers stunning mountain vistas and valleys, with 22 scenic pull-outs for travelers to savor the views. It is a year-round attraction, but be cautious of winter weather​​​​.
  2. Route 66: Celebrated as America’s Main Street, Route 66 traverses 400 miles across Oklahoma, from Miami in the northeast to Erick in the southwest. This historic route is lined with kitschy attractions, including the Arcadia Round Barn and the Catoosa Whale, as well as dedicated museums. Oklahoma’s Route 66 is a testament to the state’s rich heritage and offers a nostalgic road trip experience​​​​​​.
  3. Wichita Mountains Scenic Byway: This 29-mile drive between Elgin and Lost Lake, including a stretch through the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, is a blend of natural wonders and historical significance. It features herds of longhorn cattle and bison, and the drive to the top of Mt. Scott promises spectacular photography opportunities​​​​.
  4. Quartz Mountain State Park: The drive around Quartz Mountain State Park, spanning 27 miles between Altus and Lone Wolf, is unique for its quartz deposits that shimmer in sunlight. The route encircles Lake Altus, offering diverse and picturesque views​​.
  5. Cherokee Hills Scenic Byway: An 88-mile drive through the foothills of the Ozark Mountains, this byway traverses Lake Tenkiller and the Illinois River, showcasing blue-grey flint stone formations, towering bluffs, and lush foliage. This federally recognized scenic byway passes through several counties, including Sequoyah and Cherokee​​​​.
  6. Highway 10 & Highway 20: These highways offer distinct experiences. Highway 10, running 34 miles between Muskogee and Tahlequah, offers views of the Illinois River. Highway 20, a 40-mile stretch between Claremore and Spavinaw, is known for its back-country atmosphere and is popular among motorcycle enthusiasts​​.
  7. Route 8 State Parks: Connecting Watonga and Hinton over 31 miles, this drive includes Roman Nose State Park and Red Rock Canyon State Park. The entire Route 8 spans about 180 miles, offering opportunities for short hikes and car exploration​​.
  8. Mountain Gateway & Mountain Pass Scenic Byways: These byways in southeast Oklahoma showcase the Ouachita Mountains’ beauty. The Mountain Gateway Scenic Byway follows U.S. Highway 59/270 for 22 miles, while the Mountain Pass Scenic Byway extends 23 miles on US Highway 259. Both offer panoramic views of valleys and dense green foliage​​​​.
  9. Highway 325 through the Panhandle: Stretching 38 miles from Boise City to Kenton, this drive highlights the rugged western landscape of the Oklahoma Panhandle. Its centerpiece is Black Mesa, the highest point in the state​​​​.
  10. Meers-Porter Hill Road: Running between Elgin and Meers, this route offers views of the Wichita Mountains and Lake Lawtonka. It is a picturesque drive that encapsulates the essence of Oklahoma’s natural beauty​​​​.

Conclusion: Embracing Oklahoma’s Natural Splendor

Oklahoma’s scenic drives offer a diverse range of experiences, from historic routes like Route 66 to the natural splendor of the Ouachita Mountains. These drives are not just about the destinations but the journey itself, providing a peaceful retreat into nature and a chance to explore Oklahoma’s rich heritage. Whether it’s for a leisurely drive, photography, or simply to enjoy the views, Oklahoma’s scenic byways are a testament to the state’s natural beauty and historical significance.