3. Broken Bow, OK
by Karen Lingo
Deep into the corner of Oklahoma, I discover autumn rising over the Ouachita Mountains. Here, Beavers Bend State Resort tucks into the land just off U.S. 259 near the town of Broken Bow.
The terrain in Beavers Bend State Park, one of two parks that make up the state resort, reminds me of areas of the distant Appalachians. Turning into it, I suddenly leave rolling hills behind. Pine trees give way to hardwoods. Dense forests frame the road and fringe the banks of pretty mountain streams. As I drive, the elevation climbs. Cool air turns crisp, and trails of smoke drift from cabins built amid the red oaks and maples.
I find that early risers catch the best scenes here. Especially along the streams, where fly fishermen cast for rainbow and brown trout. At daybreak, the anglers appear as apparitions, floating atop the mist that swirls across the water.
Sunrise over Broken Bow Lake, edged by Hochatown State Park, paints the most impressive picture. To see it, I stay at Lakeview Lodge, get up early, and settle into a front row seat on my balcony. As daylight peers over the distant peaks, it reveals small islands in the mist-shrouded lake.
Take a Hike
The temptation runs strong to just sit and marvel at nature’s beauty, but I don’t give in. Big Oak Nature Trail in Beavers Bend State Park covers an easy quarter of a mile. Slightly more challenging, Beaver Lodge Nature Trail winds for a mile through the park’s hickory, sweet gum, oak, and red maples. It parallels a stream and crosses a log bridge, a perfect spot to watch fly fishermen in their quest for rainbows and browns.
Looking at leaves or hiking the hills, I can always catch my favorite colors in this small slice of the Ouachitas.
Two Parks, One Resort
Beavers Bend State Resort includes Beavers Bend State Park and Hochatown State Park, with Lakeview Lodge and Cedar Creek Golf Course. For more information visit www.beaversbend.com.
Lakeview Lodge features 36 rooms and 4 suites and offer views of Broken Bow Lake; rates start at $80. 1-800-435-5514 or (580) 494-6179. Beavers Bend State Park: Two types of cabins are available. Parkview cabins: Rates start at $63. Riverview cabins: Rates start at $90. (580) 494-6300.
- November 7-9―Folk Festival and Craft Show: Watch turn-of-the-century crafts demonstrations in Beavers Bend State Park.
- Look for eagles November through February.
- Fish the streams and Mountain Fork River year-round for bass and trout.
- Canoe or kayak Mountain Fork River. Find rentals at Beavers Bend River Floats; (580) 494-6070.
- Cruise Broken Bow Lake by boat. Rentals available from Beavers Bend Marina; (580) 494-6455.
- Tee off at Cedar Creek Golf Course in Hochatown State Park; (580) 494-6456.
- Steven’s Gap Restaurant: Ten miles north of Broken Bow on U.S. 259; (580) 494-6350. This restaurant is our pick for a good breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It’s known for fried catfish, but the menu offers something for every taste. Save room for the delicious homemade pies.
- Abendigo’s Grill & Patio: On U.S. 259, north of Broken Bow, near the entrance to Steven's Gap Lake Road; (580) 494-7222. This spot tops our list of dinner choices (open for lunch also). It serves chicken tenders to youngsters with the same care it devotes to their parents’ wild Alaskan king salmon. Locals go for the generous serving of chicken-fried steak that covers the plate.
- Beavers Bend Restaurant: Located near the nature center in Beavers Bend State Park; (580) 494-6551. This favorite offers a convenient dining option for park guests and visitors. Breakfast choices include blueberry pancakes. For lunch or dinner choose from burgers, fried catfish, and hand-battered chicken-fried steak.
- Lakeview Lodge: All 36 rooms and 4 suites offer views of Broken Bow Lake, with value rates $80-$100 Sunday-Thursday, August 16-November 30; 1-800-435-5514 or (580) 494-6179.
- Beavers Bend State Park: Park-view cabins range $73-$113, and river-view cabins range $108-$135 during value season (Sunday-Thursday, August 16-November 30); (580) 494-6300. Find information about additional lodging, including motels and cabins, through the Broken Bow Chamber of Commerce; www.brokenbowchamber.com or (580) 584-3393.
Fish the Streams
Cold waters flowing from the base of Mountain Fork River make this a year-round destination for fly fishermen. Find everything you needs, including an experienced guide, at Three Rivers Fly Shop on U.S. 259 North. Owner Jesse King leads guided trips and conducts fly fishing schools; www.threeriversflyshop.com or (580) 494-6115. Another local guide, Ethan Wright, also knows all the hot fishing spots; (580) 236-0600.
For more fall color, take U.S. 259 North approximately 55 miles to the Talimena Scenic Drive (State 1 in Oklahoma, State 88 in Arkansas). This scenic byway rides the crest of the Ouachitas from Talihina, Oklahoma, to Mena, Arkansas. Have lunch at Queen Wilhelmina Inn in Queen Wilhelmina State Park, six miles east of the
Arkansas/Oklahoma state line; www.queenwilhelmina.com or 1-800-264-2477.