By Christian Toews
From the Sept. 2021 Biskinik
A cool breeze is in the air, sunshine is plentiful and the mountains are covered in brilliant fall colors. Where can you find this picturesque experience? Right here in Oklahoma. The eastern part of the state is home to views that rival Colorado and New England when it comes to putting on a show in the fall.
The fall foliage typically peaks in Oklahoma around Halloween and stretches into early November. During this time, the state is ablaze with yellows, reds and oranges in popular fall foliage hotspots such as Poteau, the Talimena Scenic Drive and Broken Bow.
The area with the most options for viewing the beautiful colors is near Talihina, Oklahoma. One of the end cities of the Talimena Scenic Byway, this Oklahoma town is not what you expect when you think of Oklahoma’s typical prairies and plains. Talihina sits in the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains that extend into Arkansas. These mountains host amazing views all year, but there is something special about seeing them light up with colors in the fall. One of the most attractive features is a winding 54-mile scenic drive through the Ouachita Mountains known as The Talimena Scenic Byway. This roadway winds along the crest of the Mountains through the Ouachita National Forest from Talihina, Oklahoma, to Mena, Arkansas. With many scenic vistas to stop and enjoy, many people will spend an entire day on the drive enjoying the views. If you’re planning to do this, be sure to pack a lunch or stop and get some snacks because there are no services along most of the drive.
If you’re planning a trip to Talihina, why not stop by for the annual fall festival? Vera Nelson is the Talihina Chamber of Commerce director and has organized the Fall Festival since it began. November 6, 2021, will be the 33rd year of the festival. The event features arts and crafts, live music, a car show, food booths, and special entertainment. She said somewhere around three thousand people visit the festival each year and come from all over the world. Nelson encourages everyone to drive up into the mountains and see the fall foliage up close when they attend the festival. According to Nelson, one of the best ways to get more information and enjoy the scenic drive is to stop by the visitor center in Talihina and pick up a Talimena Scenic Byway guidebook. You can also visit www.talimenascenicdrive.com and the Talihina Chamber of Commerce website for more information in planning your trip.
Traveling south of Talihina, you’ll find Broken Bow, Oklahoma. This area of Oklahoma is perfect for viewing the changing leaves in the fall. Beavers Bend State Park and the surrounding area have many places to drive, hike, ATV and camp, making this location an excellent option for spending time in the fall. You could ATV up to a sweeping vista above Broken Bow Lake or hike to one of the many incredible views inside Beavers Bend State Park. For more information on Beavers Bend State Park, visit visitmccurtaincounty.com and plan your trip today!
If you travel northeast from Talihina, you will find the city of Poteau. This city is home to the world’s highest hill at 1999 feet above the surrounding area. This hill is an excellent place to pack a picnic and look at the fall foliage from a unique vantage point. Poteau offers many fall activities to enjoy. On September 24 and 25, Poteau holds the annual Old Frisco Trail Fall Festival. This festival includes food vendors, music, a 5k Glow Run, a half marathon and a 15k run. You can find out more information about the fall festival in Poteau by visiting www.poteauchamber.com.
No matter which of these locations you decide to view, the changing leaves this fall, you are sure to develop a new appreciation for the brilliant colors and amazing views that Oklahoma has to offer.