|The End of Trail Motel in Broken Bow commemorates the termination of the removal trail for the Choctaw and
Oklahoma must be America's best kept secret. I don't know many people (besides me!) who choose Oklahoma as a vacation destination,
but I think that they're missing out. Considering that mountains, forests, streams, waterfalls, and dramatic western landscapes are only a
few hours' drive away from Dallas/Fort Worth, one of the biggest metropolises in the U.S., one would think Oklahoma would be a popular
But when I drove along the Quachita (Wash-I-tah) National Forest, which spans the southeastern part of the state, I encountered very few
tourists, and just a handful of locals. For the largest part of my journey, I savored the solitude and undisturbed vistas of the tallest
mountains east of the Rockies and west of the Appalachians. I must admit I enjoyed having this landscape to myself, though I do believe
that tourism would bring a few extra dollars to the struggling hamlets at the bases of the mountains.
"Little Dixie" describes southeastern Oklahoma because the Choctaws who settled here in the early 1820s practiced Southern plantation
culture and after the Civil War, many southern whites settled here. The mountain ranges run north and south along old fault lines. Millions
of years ago, these mountains stood as tall as the Rockies, but erosion and tectonic inactivity has reduced them to hills that reach from
1,000 to 2,000 feet. The ranges, divided by broad valleys - the Kiamichi River being the widest valley - each have a different name, too. You
can drive around the Kiamichi, Winding Stair, Rich, San Bois, Blue, Limestone Ridge, and Jack Fork mountains.
|The Kiamichi River dominates the valley floor and separates the mountain ranges. In the spring,
these waters turn into shallow but swift rapids.
|An abandoned store along US 271 in Snow, which borders the Kiamichi Mountains. The sign on it
hints that this was also a Masonic meeting place. Above the sign the year 1926 is spelled out in
|The Horsehead Springs along the Winding Stair
Mountain Scenic Byway (OK 1). These springs
nourished not only horses, but notorious outlaws as
well, as the remote and uncontrolled area made a
perfect bandit getaway. Belle Starr, Jesse James,
Cole Younger, and the Dalton Gang hid out in
The stone work surrounding the springs was built
by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The water has
a heavy iron content and should be boiled before
Things to See and Do in Little Dixie!
Winding Stair Scenic Byway
OK 1 winds its way up mountains and down valleys,
and offers scenic overlooks. You can reach the
road via US 271 (road entrance is northeast of
Talihina) or via US 259.
Beavers Bend State Resort Park
Beavers Bend is one of Oklahoma's favorite parks,
offering overnight cabins, fishing, swimming,
boating, and hiking. The park has a wonderful
nature center, too, and is located north of Broken
Bow on US 259.
Heavener Runestone State Park
This is a cool park that centers on a large
sandstone, upon which supposedly Viking runes
have been carved. Historians still debate whether
the runes are authentic, but the stone makes a
good conversation piece! Along US 270 north of
Robbers Cave State Park
My husband and I took a belated honeymoon here
(we were very broke). The park has beautiful
scenery within the San Bois mountains, and the
"cave" (two large stone slabs forming a cubby) was
supposedly the hideout of many a bandit. Lots of
graffiti marks the spot where Jesse James came to
escape the demands of banditry. On OK 2, north of
Tuskahoma was the first capital of the Choctaw
Nation, which was later moved to Durant. Now the
old capital building is a well preserved monument to
Choctaw ingenuity. On US 271 northeast of
Clayton, follow signs.
|This picturesque Christian Church was built using locally quarried stone.
|The Mountains of Little Dixie