Autumn has arrived, and the leaves are taking on beautiful tones of red, orange and yellow. As the air cools and the days grow shorter, it is the perfect season to get out of the house and explore the brilliant colors of nature. Oklahoma and the surrounding states offer many breathtaking views of the changing foliage.

Photo courtesy Chickasaw Nation Chickasaw National Recreational Area

Oklahoma


  1. Chickasaw National
    Recreational Area
  • 2 h 30 min from Tulsa
  • 1 h 30 min from OKC

Chosen by Travel and Leisure Magazine as the best campsite in Oklahoma, the Chickasaw National Recreational Area has over 30 miles of trails for both novice and experienced hikers to take in the scenery. Ranger-led educational hikes are available, as well as boating, fishing, swimming and camping.
Information courtesy chickasawcountry.com

2. Talimena National Scenic Byway

  • 2 h 30 min from Tulsa
  • 3 h 15 min from OKC

The Talimena Scenic Byway offers over 50 miles of picturesque driving along the crests of Rich Mountain and Winding Stair Mountain. The drive takes you from Talihina, Oklahoma all the way to Mena, Arkansas, and contains numerous sites of natural and historic significance. Hiking trails and attractions are plentiful along the way.
Information courtesy talimenascenicdrive.com

  • Chickasaw National Recreational Area
  • Talimena National Scenic Byway
  • Talimena National Scenic Byway
  • Chickasaw National Recreational Area

Photo courtesy Arkansas Tourism Devil’s Den State Park

Arkansas


3. Devil’s Den State Park

  • 2 h 15 min from Tulsa
  • 3 h 15 min from OKC

Nestled in Lee Creek Valley near Lake Devil, Devil’s Den State Park offers many ways to explore the scenery, from guided, informative hikes to mountain biking, horse-riding and backpacking trails. The wood and stone structures of the park are made with native materials to compliment the surrounding nature, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the foliage.
Information courtesy arkansasstateparks.com

4. Pedestal Rocks Scenic Area

  • 3 h 45 min from Tulsa
  • 4 h 30 min from OKC

Formed from eons of water and wind erosion, the Pedestal Rocks are unique mushroom-shaped stone formations. The Pedestal Rocks hiking trail is 2.2 miles of beautiful scenery, numerous explorable caves and rock shelters, high vistas and these fascinating stone pillars.
Information courtesy exploretheozarksonline.com

5. Jasper

  • 3 h 30 min from Tulsa
  • 5 h from OKC

Located near the beginning of the historic Buffalo River, the town of Jasper is surrounded by nature. Activities such as hiking, canoeing, caving, mountain climbing and more are available within a short distance of the town, and the area is home to a herd of about 450 elk.
Information courtesy arkansas.com

6. Heber Springs

  • 4 h 30 min from Tulsa
  • 5 h 15 min from OKC

There are many chances to explore nature in and around the town of Heber Springs. Multiple hiking trails weave through the forests, including the paved, mobility-friendly Buckeye Trail. The 900-foot tall Bridal Veil Falls can be seen from a trail hiking directly behind it, or by a scenic overlook. October brings the Scarecrow Stroll to downtown Heber Springs, as well as the Ozark Trail Festival.
Information courtesy heber-springs.com

  • Pedestal Rocks Scenic Area
  • Jasper
  • Heber Springs

Photo by Ann Schonlau, courtesy National Park Service Rocky Mountain National Park

Colorado


7. Rocky Mountain National Park

  • 11 h from Tulsa
  • 10 h 45 min from OKC

450 square miles of the Rocky Mountains mark this park, filled with breathtaking views and multiple chances for natural encounters. Bighorn sheep, elk and mule deer all call the park home, as well as over 280 recorded species of birds to add a soundtrack to the view. Fall is the last chance to view some parts of the park, before the extreme weather buries it in snow! Certain trails crest over 12,000 feet in altitude, so take some time to acclimate while you hike.
Information courtesy nps.gov

8. Paonia State Park

  • 13 h 30 min from Tulsa
  • 13 h from OKC

Nestled high in the Ragged Mountains is this narrow reservoir lake, surrounded on all sides by steep mountainsides and stunning foliage. Seasonal trees intermingle with evergreens and fruit-producing shrubbery to create a vibrant display of colors.
Information courtesy cpw.state.co.us

9. Steamboat Lake State Park

  • 13 h 30 min from Tulsa
  • 13 h from OKC

Hahn’s Peak frames the breathtaking scenery of this premier park offering family fishing, camping, picnicking and boating recreational opportunities. Three nature trails loop around the lake, offering every angle of spectacular views.
Information courtesy cpw.state.co.us

10. State Forest State Park

  • 12 h 30 min from Tulsa
  • 12 h 15 min from OKC

In the ultimate rugged Colorado, State Forest State Park offers visitors 71,000 acres of forest, jagged peaks, alpine lakes, wildlife and miles of trails.  The park stretches along the west side of the Medicine Bow Mountains and into the north end of the Never Summer Range. North Park is considered the moose viewing capital of Colorado, with over 600 moose to be observed year-round.
Information courtesy cpw.state.co.us

11. Pearl Lake State Park

  • 13 h 15 min from Tulsa
  • 13 h from OKC

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Just a few miles off the road, Pearl Lake State Park feels like an escape into the backcountry of Colorado. Nestled in the mountains north of Steamboat Springs, this peaceful park sits in a serene lakeside setting. Overlooking Farwell Mountain, visitors camp along the shoreline and on a ridge with amazing views. A trail takes visitors along the shoreline and leads them deep into the Routt National Forest.
Information courtesy cpw.state.co.us

12. Cherry Creek State Park

  • 9 h 45 min from Tulsa
  • 9 h 30 min from OKC

Anchored around a 880 surface acre reservoir, the park offers a natural prairie environment of gentle, rolling hills and complete outdoor recreation facilities, including camping and picnicking areas. There is a 107-acre fenced dog park area that has water access for off-leash canine enjoyment.
Information courtesy cpw.state.co.us

  • Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo by Jim Daugherty, courtesy National Park Service
  • Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo by Karen Daugherty, courtesy National Park Service
  • Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo by Walt Kaesler, courtesy National Park Service
  • State Forest State Park. Photo by Mike DelliVeneri
  • Paonia State Park. Photo by Ken Papaleo
  • Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo by Walt Kaesler, courtesy National Park Service
  • Pearl Lake State Park. Photo by Nora Logue
  • Steamboat Lake State Park. Photo by Vic Schendel
  • State Forest State Park. Photo by Nora Logue
  • Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo by Bonnie Beach, courtesy National Park Service
  • Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo by Walt Kaesler, courtesy National Park Service

Photo courtesy VisitHermann.com Hermann

Missouri


13. Hermann

  • 5 h 30 min from Tulsa
  • 7 h 30 min from OKC

Tucked away in the Missouri River Valley, Hermann is a picturebook winery village where 19th-century brick buildings hug the sidewalk as they do in Germany. The 240-mile Katy Trail State Park, the nation’s longest rails-to-trails project, is located just across the river from Hermann. The flat, hard-surface trail, where Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad trains once ran, is rich in natural beauty and history. Sections of the trail are part of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail and the American Discovery Trail. Every weekend in October hosts Oktoberfest, featuring bier gartens, live music and food stands.
Information courtesy visithermann.com

Photo courtesy VisitHermann.com Hermann

Photo courtesy Santa Fe National Forest Santa Fe National Forest

New Mexico


14. Santa Fe National Forest

  • 10 h 30 min from Tulsa
  • 9 h from OKC

Some of the finest mountain scenery in the Southwest is found in the 1.6-million-acre Santa Fe National Forest. Travel into Pecos, San Pedro Parks, Chama, and Dome Wildernesses via wilderness pack trips, saddle, or on 1,000 miles of hiking trails. Visit one of many nearby Native American pueblos, Spanish missions and Native American ruins. Golden aspen grace the high country from September to October, painting the hillsides a brilliant yellow.
Information courtesy fs.usda.gov

  • Santa Fe National Forest. Photo courtesy Santa Fe National Forest
  • Santa Fe National Forest. Photo courtesy Santa Fe National Forest

© Park Host Willene Woods Daingerfield State Park

Texas


15. Caddo Lake State Park

  • 5 h from Tulsa
  • 5 h 30 min from OKC

Bald cypress trees draped with Span­ish moss tower over the maze of bayous, sloughs and ponds of Caddo Lake. The stately pine, oak, hickory and cypress trees flourish in the quiet backwaters of the lake. In the freshwater marsh, grasses and reeds provide shelter for turtles and a variety of fish, birds, toads and snakes, many of which will be preparing to hibernate for the year. The park offers guided hikes, including nighttime hikes to catch sight of the nocturnal wildlife.
Information courtesy tpwd.texas.gov

16. Daingerfield State Park

  • 4 h 15 min from Tulsa
  • 4 h 30 min from OKC

Tall trees reach for the sky in the north­east corner of Texas. Explore life in the forest at Daingerfield State Park as you wander the trails, paddle Little Pine Lake, or relax at your campsite. Dance Saturday night away (through November) to jukebox tunes at the pavilion. Some weekends fea­ture karaoke or live music! Explore the East Texas Pineywoods, wandering through the cathedral of trees – pines, oaks, dogwoods and more.
Information courtesy tpwd.texas.gov

17. Lost Maples Natural Area

  • 9 h from Tulsa
  • 7 h 30 min from OKC

Lost Maples protects a special stand of Uvalde bigtooth maples. Abundant wild­flowers, steep canyon walls and the scenic Sabinal River surround these unique trees. Beyond, the entire park is perfect to take a hike or a photo, go fishing, look for birds and other wildlife, camp, backpack, stargaze and hunt for geocaches.
Information courtesy tpwd.texas.gov

18. McKinney Falls

  • 7 h 30 min from Tulsa
  • 6 h 30 min from OKC

Listen to Onion Creek flowing over limestone ledges and splashing into pools. Follow trails winding through the Hill Country woods. Explore the remains of an early Texas homestead and a very old rock shelter. All this lies just 13 miles from city of Austin. Be sure to visit “Old Baldy,” one of the oldest bald cypress trees on public land in Texas. Estimated at more than 500 years old, the tree is 103 feet tall.
Information courtesy tpwd.texas.gov

19. Palo Duro Canyon

  • 5 h from Tulsa
  • 3 h 30 min from OKC

Palo Duro Canyon was formed by millions of years of water erosion by the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River and the West Texas wind. With a descent of some 800 feet to the canyon floor and more than 16 miles of paved road, Palo Duro Canyon State Park offers fantastic scenic views, historical sites and markers, miles and miles of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails.
Information courtesy palodurocanyon.com

20. Garner State Park

  • 9 h from Tulsa
  • 7 h 30 min from OKC

With 2.9 miles of Frio River winding through 1,774 acres of scenic Hill Country terrain, deep can­yons, crystal-clear streams, high mesas and carved lime­stone cliffs characterize this dramatic terrain. Because the park’s canyons angle southeast to northwest, prevailing winds cool and moisten the area and allow lusher vegetation than normal for this region. Especially noteworthy trees are Texas madrone and lacey oak. The steep slopes and canyons shelter some very old Ashe junipers. Magnificent bald cypresses line the Frio.
Information courtesy tpwd.texas.gov

  • Lost Maples State Park. Photo by Chase A. Fountain, © Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
  • Palo Duro Canyon. Photo by Earl Nottingham, © Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
  • McKinney Falls. Photo by Chase A. Fountain, © Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
  • Lost Maples State Park. Photo by Chase A. Fountain, © Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
  • Lost Maples State Park. Photo by Chase A. Fountain, © Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
  • Lost Maples State Natural Area. Photo by Amanda Key, © Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
  • Garner State Park. Photo by Chase A. Fountain, © Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
  • Daingerfield State Park. Photo by Earl Nottingham, © Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
  • Daingerfield State Park. Photo by Richard Treece, © Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
  • Daingerfield State Park. Photo by Earl Nottingham, © Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
  • Daingerfield State Park. © Park Host Willene Woods

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