Chickasaw National Recreation Area

Chickasaw National Recreation Area Expert Guide 2024

disclaimer and full disclosure

The Chickasaw National Recreation Area is a true gem of Oklahoma, nestled in the foothills of the Arbuckle Mountains. With family living nearby, we visit frequently and have so many memories of countless excursions in the area over the years. 

The park is centered around its springs & mineral-rich waterways, trails, lush ecosystem, & storied past. The Chickasaw National Recreation Area is not only an oasis for nature enthusiasts but also a haven for recreational activities. 

Whether you’re drawn to tranquil fishing spots, picturesque camping sites, or trails that meander through forested woods, the park caters to a wide array of outdoor pursuits. Your adventures here can span from boating on the Lake of the Arbuckles to hiking along well-maintained paths, offering you a chance to encounter the area’s diverse wildlife and ecosystem.

 Chickasaw National Recreation Area Overview 

Located in southern Oklahoma on the edge of the small town of Sulphur, the Chickasaw National Recreation Area is steeped in a rich past that spans the cultural significance of Native American tribes and the evolution of American conservation efforts.

The park has taken many forms over the years, but the agenda has remained the same: preservation of its mineral waters and natural features. 

Now, over a million visitors a year find relaxation and recreation within its boundaries of nearly 10,000 acres. Use our detailed guide to help plan excursions, ensuring that you can fully appreciate the park’s features and history. By preparing for your adventure, you can expect a fulfilling exploration of Oklahoma’s oldest national park area.

Note: Most of the Chickasaw National Recreation Area is back open following the tornado damage from April 27, 2024. Check out the park’s most recent updates here.

Chickasaw National Recreation Area Information 

Now considered a national reserve, Chickasaw National Recreation Area honors the Chickasaw Nation by name, but is run by the National Park Service. It includes the former Platt National Park (the area now known as the Platt Historic District) and the Arbuckle Recreation Area, where Oklahoma’s prairies of the west intermingle with its deciduous forests of the east.

Fast Facts

  • ➡️ Entry is FREE! No entrance permits or passes are necessary. Fees are charged for boats on the Lake of the Arbuckles and for camping.
  • ➡️ Pets are allowed in most areas but must be leashed no longer than 6 feet or attached in a controlled, safe way.
    • Pets CAN swim in water areas except for the named waterfalls but must be leashed.
    • Pets CAN be in campground areas unless barking is excessive or a nuisance.
    • Pets ARE allowed on trails west of the Travertine Nature Center.
    • Pets are NOT allowed in the Travertine Nature Center, buildings, or the trails east of the Travertine Nature Center.
  • ➡️ The outdoor areas of the park are open 24 hours a day all year long. The Travertine Nature Center is open most days from 9am to 4:30pm or 5pm, depending on the season, excluding holidays.
  • ➡️ Public Wifi is NOT available.
  • ➡️ Public restrooms are available in the Travertine Nature Center, as well as periodically along the trails and near the campgrounds.
  • ➡️ Peak visitor times are on the weekends during the months of May to September. Once parking spaces fill up in the Travertine Creek area, no more cars may enter. December & January are generally the least crowded.

Pro-Tip: Roads that lead into and out of the area east of Highway 177 become one-way on Perimeter Road. If you miss your stop, just take the loop around again. It won’t take long. Beware of pedestrians and animals in the park as you’re driving through and sight-seeing. 

Things To Do At Chickasaw National Recreation Area

There are so many amazing things to do in the Chickasaw National Recreation Area, whether you prefer exploring its culture and history or enjoying outdoor fun.

1. Travertine Nature Center

The Travertine Nature Center serves as an educational and informational hub for visitors within the park. One of our lifelong family friends worked as a park ranger here before moving a couple of years ago. One excursion while visiting led us to meeting a sweet little owl at the center and the opportunity to watch her feed some of its current animals. 

The nature center has bird feeders outside of its large window drawing in countless native birds for viewers to watch. Kids can enjoy signing up for their junior ranger program and experience the center’s interactive learning area, as well as a small gift shop.

Junior Ranger Program: Ask for a Junior Ranger Activity Booklet. Complete the activities for the appropriate age group and then return to the park ranger at the center.  Your child can then be sworn in as a Junior Ranger and receive a badge!

Ranger-Led Programs: Visitors can enjoy ranger-led nature walks on Saturdays & Sundays in the afternoons. Expect the walks to last about 45 minutes.

Check out some of their seasonal events such as their annual Historic Candlelight Tour held each October!

📍 Google Maps Location: Travertine Nature Center

Pro-Tip: You will cross a bridge to visit the Travertine Nature Center & many popular spots that are covered in water. The Travertine Creek continuously flows over the bridge that you’ll cross in your vehicle. Be prepared when selecting your mode of transportation to visit! Motorcyclists are encouraged to use the southeast Perimeter Road to enter to avoid this water crossing.

Travertine Nature Center

2. Trails

The Park’s trails are perfect for a variety of activities. Visitors can hike, walk, and bicycle. The Rock Creek Multi-use trail system even allows for horseback riding. 

  • 🥾 Antelope Springs Trail: 1.0-mile round trip

The Antelope Springs Trail is the main trail east of the Travertine Nature Center, with loops branching out from it. You can see both the Antelope Springs and the Buffalo Springs from this trail. Pets are not allowed. The main trail works well for most strollers but the side trails mentioned below are more rustic and less stroller or wheelchair-friendly. Our kids love exploring all along the trails, with ample opportunity to deviate from the trail into the natural environment.

  • 🥾 Prairie Loop: add 0.5 mile / expect stepping stones / may get wet
  • 🥾 Tall Oaks Loop: add 0.6 mile / expect stepping stones / may get wet
  • 🥾 Buffalo Springs Loop: add 0.4 mile
  • 🥾 Dry Creek Loop: add 0.5 miles & extend from the Buffalo Springs Loop
  • 🥾 Travertine Creek Trail: 1.5 miles one-way
Buffalo Springs
Buffalo Springs

The Travertine Creek Trail runs between the Pavilion Springs and the Travertine Nature Center, with parking available on either end of it. Expect bridge crossings at times and stairs near the Pavilion Springs, but most of the trail is level and easy. Pets are allowed on leashes. 

Travertine Creek
  • 🥾 Veterans Trail: 0.5-mile one-way

The Veterans Trail runs between the Pavilion Springs and the Oklahoma Veterans Center. Most of the trail is pretty wide and level but made of gravel. Pets are allowed on leashes. Strollers and scooters will do better than wheelchairs.

  • 🥾 West Bison Pasture Loop: 1.9 miles round trip

The West Bison Pasture Loop is a gravel trail that runs around the West Bison Pasture with multiple possible entrances onto the loop. There are some steep areas, stairs, and varied terrain along the length of the loop, making it too difficult for wheelchairs and most strollers. Pets are allowed while properly leashed.

  • 🥾 Spur Trail to Bromide Hill Viewpoint: add 0.5 mile / one way / narrow & steep
  • 🥾 Spur Trail to Rock Creek Campground: add 0.8 mile / one way / narrow & steep
  • 🥾 Flower Park Trails: about 0.5-mile round trip

These gravel trails weave through the park area between the Vendome Well and the Lincoln Bridge. Spring water outlined with stones streams through the area, surrounded by lush green grass and sporadic trees overhead.

  • 🥾 Inkana Trail: 0.3-mile one way

Paved and wide, this trail connects Veterans Lake to the Chickasaw Cultural Center. Hiking this trail in the spring is my favorite. You’ll catch sight of a vast array of native wildflowers along the trail up until you reach the great 195-foot Inkana Bridge that crosses over Rock Creek. Cross the bridge and enter the backside of the Chickasaw Cultural Center, another wonderful experience, full of history and education about the Chickasaw Nation. The bridge symbolizes their connection to the Chickasaw National Recreation Area.

  • 🥾 Veterans Lake Trail: 2.8 miles loop

Built of concrete, this wide trail surrounds Veterans Lake. There are some steep inclines as well as more level sections.

  • 🥾 Lakeside Trails at The Point:
    • Lakeview Trail: 1-mile round trip
    • Fishing Rock Trail: 1.6 miles round trip

Both dirt trails start from Cooper Memorial Road, north of the picnic area. 

  • 🥾 Rock Creek Multi-Use Trails: 
    • Trail 1: 4.3 miles one-way
    • Trail 4: 5.2 miles one-way
    • Loop Trails:
      • Trail 1 to 2 to 3: 2.2-mile loop
      • Trail 1 to 3: 5.2-mile loop
      • Trail 4 to 1 to Dirt Road: 3.3-mile loop

These trails can be used for horseback riding and are more rustic and difficult to follow at times. They also pass through areas that may be hunted at times. 

  • 🥾 Bromide Hill Trail: 2.4-mile out-and-back route 

The Bromide Hill Trail runs along the base of the lookout point. It is generally considered moderately challenging due to its elevation gain and rugged terrain. 

3. Swimming

There are a variety of open, free swimming areas within the park. Swimmers can enjoy both Veterans Lake and the Lake of the Arbuckles for swimming, except at boat launches and fishing docks. 

swimming at Chickasaw National Recreation Area

Popular areas include The Point at the Lake of the Arbuckles, the 40 Foot Hole along Cat’s Eye Road, and the Black Sulphur Springs area along Rock Creek. 

📍 Google Maps Location: Arbuckle Swimming Point

The Little Niagara & Travertine Island area is one of the most popular (and crowded) swimming spots during any warm day. The area covers about 22 acres of land, with woods, travertine formations, stones, and both natural and man-made waterfalls with Travertine Creek and Limestone Creek running through it.

📍 Google Maps Location: Travertine Island Area

Our favorite area to swim? Just west of Little Niagara, follow the creek along less crowded stretches. We enjoy wading downstream, exploring the natural area in the creek’s cold, but clear waters. The falls’ areas are more popular, but the stretches in between provide wonderful swimming experiences that are typically less crowded.

Areas east of Little Niagara are off-limits for swimming. 

Check out the area’s bacteria levels here before entering. 

Chickasaw National Recreation Area creek

Pro-Tip: Water shoes are highly recommended. Natural creek bottoms have rocks and occasionally sharp surprises to the feet.

4. Waterfalls

The Chickasaw National Recreation Area is home to several small falls. A few of our favorites:

🏞️ Little Niagara Falls: Google Maps Location

Easily the best well-known in the area, Little Niagara Falls is both scenic and popular, for its deep swimming hole, picnicking area, and beauty. Its temperature typically ranges between 62 and 64 degrees Fahrenheit. 

🏞️ Bear Falls: Google Maps Location

Cascading small falls along the creek by Perimeter Road.

🏞️ Garfield Falls: Google Maps Location

Rolling small falls along the spring-fed creek that runs along Perimeter Road.

🏞️ Panther Falls: Google Maps Location

Beautiful small falls along the creek that runs along Perimeter Road.

waterfall along perimeter road

5. Fishing

Fishing is allowed in the Chickasaw National Recreation Area with a valid fishing license (if required by age) EXCEPT in the areas east of Highway 177 including Travertine Creek and the Travertine Nature Center. Fishing docks are available at both the Lake of the Arbuckles and Veterans Lake. Expect to fish for bass, crappie, perch, and catfish. Traps are not allowed.

📍 Google Maps Location: Guy Sandy Dock at Lake of the Arbuckles 

6. Hunting

Hunting in the area is allowed in certain zones and areas and at certain times of the year with a valid license. Seasons are established by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. Learn more here

7. Wildlife Viewing

The Chickasaw National Recreation Area is in an area known as an ecotone, a merge of the eastern hardwood forests and the prairies of the west in south-central Oklahoma. As an ecotone, it’s home to a diverse ecosystem. 

Wildlife enthusiasts have the opportunity to spot a variety of animals, such as the White-tailed Deer, bison, raccoons, armadillo, turkey, rabbits, the Eastern Meadowlark, and Black-capped chickadees, to name a few. 

With patience, you might spot animals seen less often. One spring evening, we had the privilege of a visit from a Southern flying squirrel that glided onto the railing of our front porch. 

flying squirrel chickasaw national recreation area
Isn’t it cute? This Southern flying squirrel hung out for a few minutes before moving on. We snapped some quick pictures!

8. Picnicking

There are several wonderful picnic areas with concrete tables and benches throughout the park area. Some include charcoal stations. Look along Perimeter Road, near waterfalls, and throughout the campgrounds. There are several next to Little Niagara as well. No reservations are required. Just pick a pretty spot and enjoy!

picnic area
picnic area by little niagara falls

The park also has pavilions available for picnicking. Check out these pavilions & their Google Maps locations:

Learn more about reserving the Veterans Lake Pavilion or the Buckhorn Picnic Pavilion here.

9. Bromide Hill

Bromide Hill provides a scenic overlook of the town of Sulphur, OK. You can park just below the lookout and hike up a moderately steep incline to see its epic cliff views!

If you’re looking for a longer adventure, take the Bromide Hill Trail before or after viewing. 

📍 Google Maps Location: Bromide Hill Lookout

Bromide Hill
This was taken about a month after the tornado damage in April 2024.

10. Vendome Well & Flower Park

Vendome Well is an artesian well known for its spring-fed water flow. Flower Park is a lush landscaped wooded park that surrounds it.

  • Vendome Well: The well was created in 1922 to provide a reliable water source in the area. Its popularity grew because of its ability to produce so much water, which was reported to be around 2,500 gallons per minute. The mineral waters that feed the well have drawn visitors for years for their supposed health benefits. Beware that sometimes it smells strongly of sulfur!
Vendome Well
Image was taken about a month after the April 2024 storm damage.
  • Flower Park: The Flower Park was created in the early 1900s by the Civilian Conservation Corp. Its rustic, natural quality was popular at that time. The goal was to leave as much of the area preserved as they could. The small stream of spring-fed water that runs between the two areas is lined with stones. 
Flower Park

📍 Google Maps Location: Vendome Well & Flower Park

11. Lincoln Bridge

Lincoln Bridge was dedicated on Abraham Lincoln’s birthday in 1909. It’s located south of Flower Park near Perimeter Road and just west of Highway 177. It was the original park’s oldest structure. Its intricate stonework and detail stand out amidst the lush natural landscape surrounding it.

📍 Google Maps Location: Lincoln Bridge

Lincoln Bridge
Image taken about a month after the April 2024 storm damage.

12. The Bison Pasture

A small herd of American Bison now call the designated area of the park home. The sulfur springs once drew in large herds that roamed the area. This particular herd is descended from a group of six bison that were brought in from the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge in 1920. 

Bison Viewpoint
Bison Pasture
Check out the baby bison! This was along Veterans Trail.

Pro-Tip: Stop by the Bison Viewpoint along Highway 177 in the late afternoon. With some luck, you might spot the herd from here. 

📍 Google Maps Location: Bison Pasture Viewpoint

13. The Leeper House

The Leeper House dates back to 1894 when it was a family home for Graves Leeper. It was later used as a place for settling Indian land claims, a school, and a community center. It later became the superintendent’s office in 1904 for the future Platt National Park. It’s the only known building that is still standing from the first settlement of the original Sulphur Springs. It has been utilized for headquarters and the park area for over a century. 

14. Lake of the Arbuckles

Visitors can use ski boats, motor boats, jet skis, kayaks, & canoes on the Lake of the Arbuckles. Permits are required for motorized boats. There are 4 boat ramps available on the lake and a fishing dock. 

We usually take a boat out on the lake a few times a year to swim, ski, and tube. It’s a popular destination, especially on the weekends. The key is to get out on the water early to beat the crowds!

📍 Google Maps Location: Lake of the Arbuckles

Lake of the Arbuckles

15. Veterans Lake

Built in 1933, Veterans Lake was added to the Chickasaw National Recreation Area in 1983. The lake can have canoes and kayaks, but no wake boats. Permits are not required for this lake. The 3-mile paved path surrounding the lake is ideal for walking. Enjoy a picnic under its covered pavilion. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, take the Inkana Trail from the lake to the Chickasaw Cultural Center to spend some time learning about the history & culture of the Chickasaw Nation.

📍 Google Maps Location: Veterans Lake

How To Get There

Most travel by car, SUV, truck, or motorcycle to Sulphur, OK. The nearest commercial airport is Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City, about 85 miles away via I-35. Once there, driving and biking are your best options. 

🚗 Driving: Driving is typically the cheapest & quickest.

book rentals

🚆 Train: You can take the Amtrak to Pauls Valley and then rent a car or take a taxi or similar service to Sulphur.

🚌 Bus: Take a Greyhound bus to Ardmore & then rent a car or take a taxi or similar service to Sulphur. 

✈️ Flight: Fly into Will Rogers Airport in Oklahoma City or Dallas Fort Worth International Airport & then rent a car or take a taxi or similar service to Sulphur. Once in Sulphur, however, you will need transportation to get around.

book flights

Typical expected travel times from nearby cities include:

📍 From Oklahoma City, OK: 86 miles (about 1.5 hours away)

📍 From Tulsa, OK: 155 miles (about 2 hours & 40 minutes away)

📍 From Dallas, TX: 130 miles (about 2 hours away)

📍 From Pauls Valley, OK: 28 miles (about 30 minutes away)

📍 From Ardmore, OK: 33 miles (about 40 minutes away)

Traveling Within The Park

There are multiple entrances to the park to choose from, depending on your destination and where you’re coming from. Many are not easily searched, so I’m listing their Google Maps coordinates here:

📍 Google Maps Location: Platt Historic District North Entrance

  • This option is great if you’re coming from the north part of Sulphur and are visiting the Travertine Creek area or any part of the Platt Historic District and its trails and things to do in the area.

📍 Google Maps Location: Platt Historic District South Entrance

  • This entrance brings you into the park from the south, along Highway 177, opposite from the north entrance. You’ll drive by the Bison Pasture, Veterans Lake area, and the Bromide Pavilion before entering the Travertine Creek area.

📍 Google Maps Location: Platt Historic District Twelfth Street Entrance

  • You can enter west of Highway 177 by Rock Creek Campground, on the north side of the park as well. You can then follow Perimeter Road into the Platt Historic District in the Travertine Creek area or continue to Veterans Lake.

🚲 Bigfoot E-Bikes: Rent an E-Bike for up to 6 hours to explore the park! Located just outside of the Chickasaw National Recreation area near the 12th Street entrance, these unique bikes are powered by solar energy & are a great alternative to your typical transportation in and around the area.

🚌 JAMM Transit: This bus service is available within the town of Sulphur during daytime hours Monday through Friday, for $1 per ride. However, they do not transport within the Chickasaw National Recreation Area. Call 844-462-2457, then option #3, to set up a pick-up time and location to get you around outside of the park! 

Where To Stay

Fortunately for you, there is a wonderful variety of places to stay in Sulphur. While we typically stay in our family’s cabin in Sulphur, there have been several occasions where we have stayed at other locations in the area for special events & celebrations.

Chickasaw National Park Camping

There are 6 campgrounds spread out through the Platt Historic District & the Lake of the Arbuckles with about 400 sites for tent & RV camping. All campgrounds are open from sometime in May to sometime in October, depending on the year. Some are closed during the winter season. 

Campsites do have fees, depending on the size of the site and whether or not it is a utility site. Some sites are first-come, first-serve, while others are reservation-only. Payments must be made by card, not cash. Fires must only be used in the fire grates provided at each site. 

Our favorite site was in The Point Campground, reserved in advance. It was on the edge of the lake, which had less wind cover, but it was secluded and on a beachy shore of the lake. Our kids enjoyed exploring the site’s backyard endlessly.

Reservations for campsites can be made here or by calling 1-877-444-6777. Checkouts must be completed by noon on the day of departure.

camping in Chickasaw National Recreation Area

Platt Historic District Campgrounds

These 3 campgrounds are located within the Rock Creek & Travertine Creek area. 

Central Campground

➡️ 10 sites

➡️ Shared Water Spigots

➡️ No Showers / No electric hook-ups

➡️ Availability: Summer Season

➡️ Reservable

Cold Springs Campground

➡️ 65 sites

➡️ Shared Water Spigots

➡️ No Showers / No electric hook-ups

➡️ Availability: Summer Season

➡️ Reservable

Rock Creek Campground

➡️ 99 sites

➡️ Shared Water Spigots

➡️ No Showers / No electric hook-ups

➡️ Availability: Year-Round

➡️ Only Group Sites are Reservable

Lake of the Arbuckles Campgrounds

These 3 campgrounds surround the Lake of the Arbuckles.

Guy Sandy Campground (closed for the 2024 season)

➡️ 40 sites

➡️ Shared Water Spigots

➡️ No Showers / No electric hook-ups

➡️ Availability: Closed for the 2024 season (at this time)

➡️ First-come, first-serve only

The Point Campground

➡️ 55 sites on 2 loops (Upper & Lower)

➡️ Shared Water Spigots for Non-Electric / Individual Water hook-ups for Electric

➡️ 1 shower house on Lower Loop only  / Mix of sites with Electric hook-ups & Non-Electric

➡️ Availability: Year-round

➡️ Only Upper Loop is Reservable

Buckhorn Campground

➡️ 134 sites on 4 loops (A, B, C, D)

➡️ Shared Water Spigots for Non-Electric / Individual Water hook-ups for Electric

➡️ 1 shower on each loop’s restroom building  

➡️ Loops A & B – Non-Electric

➡️ Loops C & D – Mix of sites with Electric hook-ups & Non-Electric

➡️ Availability: Loops A & B – Summer Season /  Loops C & D – Year-round

➡️ Only Loop C is Reservable / All others first-come, first-serve

Camping Fees

Credit & Debit Cards only / Self-pay stations available for first-come, first-serve. 

➡️ Sites without utilities & up to 8 people: $20 / night

➡️ Utility sites & up to 8 people: $30 / night

➡️ No Utilities Small Group Sites (up to 10 people): $30 / night

➡️ No Utilities Large Group Sites (up to 30 people): $50 / night

Cabins & Hotels

Looking for a rental or a cabin? Check out or VRBO to see a variety of wonderful options in the Sulphur area. 

book cabins

While there are no cabins in the Chickasaw National Recreation Area, there are several cabin & hotel options in Sulphur, adjacent to the park. We’re highlighting some popular options here.

The Artesian Hotel

The Artesian Hotel sits just across the street from the north entrance to the Chickasaw National Recreation Area. Visitors enjoy luxurious stays with access to the hotel’s restaurant, spa, indoor & outdoor pool, & casino. 

Con: My only complaint is that the smoke smell is strong near the casino entrance and extremely strong in the casino itself. 

Chickasaw Retreat & Conference Center  

This stunning, secluded location sits atop a steep hill, positioning itself perfectly for astounding views of the surrounding Arbuckle Mountains, on the south side of the Lake of the Arbuckles. Its gym & heated pool are top-notch, and there is a hiking trail in the area. 

Con: They do have access to catered meals for groups and a pizza kitchen for guests Thursday through Saturday, but there isn’t a restaurant on-site daily, and it’s a 20-minute drive to find local food & reach the Chickasaw National Recreation Area. 

Echo Canyon Spa & Resort  

Just 5 minutes south of Sulphur & past the Platt Historic District, this secluded, adult-only gated resort is perfect for a romantic getaway or girls’ weekend. Although a little pricey, its services & amenities are such a treat. We stayed in one of their private cottages on the night of our wedding. They have 5-star dining options, a spa, outdoor pool, & an on-site bar.

Con: A little pricier & not family-friendly (if that’s what you’re looking for)


Wondering what else you might need to know before visiting the Chickasaw National Recreation Area? We’ve listed some interesting facts for you to peruse here. 

What is Chickasaw National Park known for?

Its mineral waters were once believed to have healing powers. People would come from all over the country to experience its crystal-clear, cool water in the local springs. 

What is there to do in Chickasaw National Recreation Area? 

There are a multitude of things to do in the Chickasaw National Recreation Area. Whether you’re looking for outdoor experiences such as hiking or swimming, or indoor excursions at local museums or shopping areas, there are plenty of things to pique your interest and entertain.

What are some fun facts about Chickasaw National Park? 

➡️ Originally, it was the 7th national park formed in the United States.

➡️ It is believed that it had more annual visitors than Yellowstone at one point in time!

➡️ The historical stone structures that were constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s amidst the area’s mineral springs & creeks are dispersed throughout the area & are a part of what is now known as the Platt Historic District (former Platt National Park area).

What happened to Platt National Park?

The Chickasaw National Recreation Area has its origins dating back to 600 A.D. when Paleo-Indians first inhabited the area. Centuries later, the Chickasaws were moved to the area following the Trail of Tears. The Chickasaw Nation sold the land, including several springs, to the federal government in 1902 to help ensure its preservation and protect it from commercialization.  

It was first established as the Sulphur Springs Reservation before the creation of the National Park Service. The reservation was renamed Platt National Park in 1906, in honor of the senator who authored the bill for its creation as a national park. More land was bought, and Indigenous residents were relocated to accommodate the growing tourism in the area. 

The Civilian Conservation Corp brought much change to the area in the 1930’s, building some of the falls within the creek area and constructing much of the modern-day park’s impressive rustic layout and structures. 

As the world of medicine expanded over time, the area became less frequented for healing powers and was enjoyed more by those looking for recreational use of its water. As the smallest national park in the country with few grand features, it began to lose its appeal at the federal level. 

In 1976, Platt National Park merged with the Arbuckle Recreation Area and additional lands to form the comprehensive area you know today as the Chickasaw National Recreation Area, both as an honor to the Chickasaw Nation and to better classify its recreational purposes. It’s still under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service but allows certain freedoms of a recreation area, unlike national parks.

Wrap-Up: Guide to the Chickasaw National Recreation Area

The Chickasaw National Recreation Area presents a unique piece of Oklahoma’s historical puzzle. Its rich and intricate history tells the story of its Indigenous people and how their love of the land surpassed all else. Together, with the National Park Service, the Chickasaw Nation ensures that this treasured land is preserved, respected, and enjoyed by many, as well by future generations.

No, it may not have grand canyons and majestic mountainous views, but its serene, and restorative beauty is uniquely fulfilling. In our opinion, it’s just what any outdoor enthusiast’s soul searches for and can satisfy cravings for adventure in our natural world.


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