The Current of the Wilderness
Lone kayaker

The Current of the Wilderness

By Amanda McCarty

As most in the south know, summers are best spent in the water. Maybe for you that’s spending the day skimming across the lake with a boatful of friends. Maybe it’s lounging by the pool with a good book and a cool drink. But if you’re anything like me, it means paddling your kayak down a river somewhere.

There’s nothing quite like setting off from a grassy bankside and surrendering your fate to wherever the water takes you. You become an explorer of sorts, on an expedition to discover the parts of the world we take for granted. The soft filtering of light through a canopy of trees arching gracefully overhead, the majestic beauty of the looming cliffside, the variegated patterns and swirls in the rock formations gliding by and the way green stains everything with the color of life. You become a captive audience to the menagerie of wildlife surrounding you – a family of ducks swimming past, the kaleidoscope of colors in their oil-slicked feathers, the luminous splash of a silvery fish breaking the water’s surface.

It doesn’t have to be all laid back and dreamy, though. Maybe you crave the thrill of the split-second decisions required to navigate more turbulent waters, maneuvering your way through narrow channels, the rush of being ruthlessly carried over jagged rocks and the pride in coming out the other side as more than just a survivor. If your style is more adrenaline junkie, there are certainly opportunities – often in the same river – requiring a more high-energy performance.

In the end, the adventure is what you make it. And Choctaw Country offers some of the most beautiful places to dive into the unknown and see where the current of the wilderness takes you.

Mountain Fork River | Broken Bow, OK

There’s no shortage of places to rent a kayak for the day in Beavers Bend State Park if you don’t have one of your own, and they’re usually relatively cheap. If you have the option (and you’re not doing anything too crazy), I recommend the sit-on-top kind, because they’re the easiest to get in and out of when you feel the urge to slip in the water to cool off. But you find what works best for you.

Beavers Bend River Floats is a great place to start if you’re just looking to dip your toe into the water, so to speak. After being shuttled to the drop-off point, it’s a peaceful trip downstream back to their shop and only takes about an hour. The best part, though, are the stunning views as Mountain Fork River cuts its way through the Kiamichi Mountains.

If you want to make a day of it, River Rats has options ranging from two and a half to six hours and offers a bit of excitement with Class II rapids and a three-foot waterfall. If you have your own kayak, they’ll even shuttle you to the drop-off point, for a small fee of course.

Kiamichi River | Antlers, OK

Sometimes, you just need a little more space to breathe, where you feel that the river is yours alone. The Kiamichi River delivers with a beautiful stretch of water between Clayton and Antlers that’s perfect for paddling away from the more touristy areas.

K River Campground is the go-to here for kayak and canoe rental, and they’ll shuttle you to wherever you want to put in upriver. There are a few gravel bars dispersed throughout the river if you want to camp out on the water. Or you can just make your way back to the campgrounds at K River, where they offer everything from tent and RV sites to tree houses and cabins.

Lake Eufaula | Eufaula, OK

Of course, it doesn’t have to be a river that you venture into. You can always kayak on the lake; but without the assistance of the river’s current, it’s best to go on a calm day when the water is relatively smooth. There’s nothing so exhausting as fighting choppy waves with nothing but a paddle and your upper body strength.

Lake Eufaula is a great place to set out, with the surrounding hilly landscape offering stunning views. There are also plenty of other activities to explore nearby, including numerous campgrounds and marinas with on-the-water restaurants and bars.

Carlton Landing

Your Lakeside Neighborhood Getaway

By Amanda McCarty

Driving north into Oklahoma, the broad, flat landscape gives way to modest peaks and valleys. As the highway stumbles over rocks, deftly winding through the crevices of the foothills, soon enough you’ll find yourself in Carlton Landing — a lakeside haven for families in search of a magical getaway. Where the memories created become souvenirs to last a lifetime.

You’ll find no shortage of places to stay, but you won’t be roomed in a typical hotel. There are a multitude of charming houses from which to choose—beautiful homes with deep-set porches strung with fairy lights and pillowed porch swings. You’ll have a comfortable view of the surrounding parks, where the air is filled with the music of children’s laughter and the dull cadence of their feet as they run across the pavement.

The focus here is to unplug and get outside, and with plenty of local pools, playgrounds and nature trails, it’s a pursuit that comes as easily as breathing. You’ll even find making your way around town is better accomplished by walking. Many of the locals use golf carts, but bicycles can be rented at the Bike Shack if you prefer a quicker method of transportation. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, the Kayak Shack offers daily rentals for kayaks and paddle boards. Or you can join the local Boat Club and spend the day skimming across Lake Eufaula with the gentle pull of wind in your hair and the intoxicating warmth of the sun caressing your skin.

Once you’ve worked up an appetite, slip into the screened-in porch of Mama Tig‘s to share a few dreamy slices of wood-fired pizza with the family. Or take the 15-minute drive to downtown Eufaula and indulge in the exquisite Southern cuisine at E’s Hideaway. Owned and operated by Chef Eric Sutherland and his wife Amanda, E’s offers an intimate dining experience surrounded by exposed brick and coppered ceilings.

If you’re looking for a venue that meets all your needs, The Meeting House has everything from your morning cup of joe to handcrafted cocktails and every meal that falls in between. Evenings can be spent next to the soft glow of the outdoor fireplace, and you’re welcome to throw on another log as you sit and sip under the tangle of tree branches and Edison lights. When the night finally comes to an end, it’s also the perfect place to rest, with three cozy rooms upstairs available for rent and the only place in town that offers single-night stays.

As if there weren’t already enough options for entertainment, the local events bring even more variety to the table of fun. The warmer months are filled with festivities, including the annual Easter egg hunt, movies under the stars and live music, bringing with them amazing food from local vendors and one-of-a-kind finds at the pop-up shops.

If you long for an escape from the buzz of the city and a leisurely return to slow living where you can reconnect with the people who matter most, Carlton Landing has all of this to offer and more. It’s a place of community, where every family—and everyone—is welcome. When it’s time to say “Goodbye,” you’ll find yourself promising, “See you soon.”

Carlton Landing

Carlton Landing

By Christian Toews
From the Feb. 2021 Biskinik

Imagine a beautiful park right outside your front door. You are watching a breathtaking sunset over the lake from your porch, cozied up with loved ones in a luxury lakeside villa. Great food and activities are all within walking distance. That may sound like a destination in Italy or France, but you can actually enjoy all of that right here in Oklahoma.

While taking a vacation to Europe might be out of the question right now, you do not need to leave the country, or the state for that matter, to enjoy an idyllic getaway. Located on Lake Eufaula in Pittsburg County is the resort town of Carlton Landing. The Choctaw Nation’s northern territory holds many unique places, and Lake Eufaula is no exception.

Lake Eufaula holds the title of Oklahoma’s largest lake. According to the official Oklahoma Travel and Tourism website, TravelOK.com, the lake covers 105,500 surface acres with 800 miles of shoreline.

According to the website, Carlton Landing was developed by Grant and Jen Humphreys.

For more than 15 years, Grant and Jen Humphreys had vacationed in and around Seaside, Florida. Seaside’s charm, convenience and sense of community were unlike anything they had found in Oklahoma. Still, an extended stay was needed to justify the 16-hour drive or airline tickets necessary to get there.

One day, as Grant was driving through land he had recently purchased on Lake Eufaula, he thought aloud, “What if we created a Seaside-like community right here on the lake and close to home?”

With that thought, the vision for Carlton Landing was born.

This beautifully developed shorefront community has been established for almost a decade now. While most homes in Carlton Landing are residents who want lakefront property or a vacation home on the lake, there are also many rental properties available for vacationers from around the country.

Carlton Landing
According to Sarah Tunnell, because the homes and rental properties in Carlton Landing are built with their driveways in the back of the house, your front door opens onto a green space. This makes it very safe for children.

Sarah Tunnell is the Director of Marketing for Carlton Landing and the Director of the Carlton Landing Foundation. She says they currently have around 300 homes in Carlton Landing, with 60 vacation rental properties.

There are many ways to enjoy your time at Carlton Landing. With parks, nature trails, pools, hot tubs, kayak rentals and more, there is never a lack of things to do.

If getting cozy inside is more of your style, various luxury properties are available to rent for the weekend or longer.

According to Tunnell, one of the main things people love about the community is the development’s thoughtfulness.

“Carlton Landing is designed for people rather than cars. Everything is designed for walkability. Kids can run out the front door straight onto a green space,” she said.

This convenience and abundance of open areas make it ideal for everyone to enjoy.

There are two main restaurants within the town. One is a top-notch pizza parlor with outdoor seating. The other restaurant is called The Meeting House and serves food and drinks for all age groups. These are both great places to relax and unwind after enjoying the lake, trails, parks and pools.

Carlton Landing

Once a month during the winter and every Saturday during the warmer months, Carlton Landing invites local vendors to set up pop-up shops. These include food vendors, boutiques, fresh veggies, other locally grown product and more.

If that isn’t enough to entice you to stop by sometime, Carlton Landing also hosts many community events throughout the year, such as movie nights out in a park, floral workshops and even concerts. All these events are open to residents, guests and the public.

You might be thinking about getting away for a weekend or looking for the perfect spot to build that summer house. Either way, Carlton Landing is an excellent choice. Without traveling far, you can experience the luxuries of lakefront property in a picturesque setting.

When asked what she would tell someone who was considering renting there, Tunnell said, “I’d say give it a try. There are so many people who have found it to be their happy place.”

If you would like more information about Carlton Landing, you can visit carltonlanding.com. To find out more about Lake Eufaula and the surrounding area, you can visit www.travelok.com.