By Amanda LaMora
The weather is finally cooler, and you can feel the pull of the open road calling your name. It beckons you to leave your cares in the dust as you barrel toward the next adventure. To propel yourself toward an ever-distant horizon in search of serpentine tarmacs and breathtaking scenery. To lose yourself, and in so doing, to find yourself again.
There’s nothing quite like the exhilaration of flying by the seat of your pants on a motorcycle. And there’s no place quite like Choctaw Country to ride the open road. These are our top three picks for a memorable autumn adventure:
1. Talimena National Scenic Byway
This one’s at the top of the list for good reason. One of the most widely recognized roads in the state, the Talimena National Scenic Byway is known for its winding curves and stunning overlooks. If you’re riding through in October, be prepared for a conflagration of turning foliage, crimson sunrises over a quiet sea of fog and vistas specifically designed for you to capture a perfect shot against the mountainous backdrop.
If you’d like to extend your stay, Talimena State Park offers a variety of campsites amidst the beautiful Ouachita National Forest. In nearby Talihina, you’ll find a quaint, historic downtown brimming with shopping opportunities and cozy lodging. And stopping by Pam’s Hateful Hussy Diner, a favorite of motorcycle enthusiasts, is a must.
2. Highway 259 Through Broken Bow and Hochatown
The area around Broken Bow and Hochatown is a world of its own – full of every conceivable opportunity for adventure and recreation. Highway 259 will carry you into the heart of the action, with plenty of scenic stops along the way.
Sample handcrafted brews at Mountain Fork Brewery, grab a slice at the famous Grateful Head Pizza Oven & Tap Room, uncork a vintage at Fish Tales Winery or enjoy live music and all the patio vibes and at Abendigo’s Grill & Patio. If you’re searching for a place to stay, Beavers Bend State Park has many beautiful campsites along both the Mountain Fork River and Broken Bow Lake. Or nestle in for the night with a luxury cabin rental.
3. Mountain Gateway Scenic Byway
This 22-mile stretch of road technically begins in Heavener, but if you begin your journey 13 miles north in Poteau – around October 20 and 21 – you might catch the Poteau Balloon Fest. This annual celebration features food vendors, a petting zoo, helicopter and monster truck rides, bull riding, and – of course – tethered balloon rides.
Once you’ve made your way down Highway 59 to Heavener, be sure to swing by Heavener Runestone Park for a glimpse at the large sandstone markings of unknown origin. And if you’re here on Saturday, October 7, you’ll be treated to craft vendors, food trucks and free live music at the Music on the Mountain festival.
Leaving Heavener, the byway will continue to carry you along the edge of the Kiamichi Mountains toward the Arkansas border, offering tranquil views of verdant forests and rocky outcrops. It may be a relatively small stretch of road, but it’s definitely worth the journey.
Things to Do
- The Maze of Hochatown
- Big Foot Axe Throwing
- Beavers Bend Mining Company
- Wild Boar Ridge Hunting Ranch
- Vojai’s Winery
- Okie Girls Coffee & Ice Cream
- Hochatown Trading Post & Coffee Co
- Hochatown Coffee Central
- Hocha Cup
- Jake’s Brickhouse Grill