During the earlier part of 2013, two travel and road weary southerners from South Georgia made a very pleasing find along highway 177 as they made their way south through Oklahoma. That find was the Chickasaw National Recreation Area near Sulphur Springs, Oklahoma. As the husband of a committed bird watcher, I am always on the look-out for good stopping off places for her to enjoy this relaxing hobby. This recreation area proved to be one of those places, as we detoured off the path of our journey for a few short hours of walking and relaxing in the shade of various hardwood trees.
The park is one of the oldest in the state of Oklahoma. It was first created out of land bought from the Chickasaw Indian Nation in 1902, in an effort to protect the local mineral springs. These were being heavily visited for their reported health benefits. The original park was named Platt National Park. Many years later additional lands were added from various sources and in 1976 the present Chickasaw National Recreation Area came into being.
The beautiful flowers, abundance of birds and small “critters”, and the occasional glimpses of larger animals made this stop-off truly pleasing and relaxing. Especially enjoyable was the Prairie Loop hiking trail was takes the nature loving wanderer through a changing environment of transitional scenery going from the forested bottom land across a small creek and winding up onto a small prairie area. Throughout the hike one may glimpse here and there numerous small flowers, butterflies, and birds. Occasionally, one sees the smaller animals which share these spaces with whitetail deer. You can easily imagine an older time of roaming buffalo and wolves! The bulletin board outside the Travertine Nature Center does post a warning of what to do if you sight wild pigs. And herds of bison are located nearby in other sections of the recreation area and in nearby parks.
Unexpectedly, while researching additional info to recommend to travelers who might want to plan trips to this area, the Chickasaw National Recreation Area federally run website automatically redirected me to a Department of the Interior website. This Department of the Interior website contained a notice that all national parks, wildlife refuges, etc. are closed for the duration of the current U.S. government shut down. Though I realized the shutdown was ongoing, somehow I didn’t expect the official website to be down as well. Talk about a surprise!
However, another website quickly presented itself after a quick search using the Yahoo search engine. This was an extremely good site to gather info when planning a visit to the Chickasaw National Recreation Area.
Hopefully, the politicians in Washington will soon decide to let the government go back to work and re-open this national treasure and all the others being adversely affected by the current “shutdown”.