22 Jan In Your Backyard: Wichita Mountains, Oklahoma
When it comes to outdoor activity, it appears that the West and the East Coast get all the love. That is where the mountains are, after all. But that doesn’t the middle of the country doesn’t have great outdoor attractions. Case in point: the Wichita Mountains, located less than two hours from Oklahoma City, and three from Dallas, in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.
Once upon a time, the Wichita Mountains were rumored to contain tons of gold deposits, and miners and prospectors staked out their claims; they never found any gold, but they did find some gorgeous countryside. The Wildlife Refuge contains over 59,000 acres of expansive, mixed grass prairie, punctuated with rocky promontories of 540-million-year-old granite. The tallest peak in the refuge is Mount Pichot, which comes in at 2476 elevation. The tallest peak in the entire range is Haley peak, which reaches up to 2481 feet; it is, however, on private property. There’s endless opportunities for hiking, biking, and rock climbing among the granite cliffs. Backcountry camping is permitted in the Charon Gardens Wilderness Area, and fishing can be found on the 13 lakes dotting the terrain.
There’s also the opportunity to see some bison. Close to 650 of the legendary American beast still roam the prairies of the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, transporting you back to a time when they roamed half the continent. Other wildlife you’re bound to come across include elk, prairie dogs, river otter, burrowing owls and even some Texas Longhorn cattle – though they may not exactly count as “wildlife.”