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Oklahoma: The Panhandle State

Oklahoma is the state known for its characteristic panhandle shape. It is located largely in the Great Plains and Interior Highlands regions and is made up of prairie, woodlands, and some mountain ranges towards the Ozark Plateau. The main mountain ranges include the Ouachita, Arbuckle, Wichita, and Ozark Mountains. The majority of the state’s area is made up of nearly unspoiled nature.

Oklahoma is located in what is referred to as Tornado Alley. The climate is characterized by frequent changes from warm to cold air masses and vice versa. Temperatures in summer climb beyond 90 degrees on a regular basis, while bitter frost in winter is in some areas a common phenomenon.

Oklahoma was acquired by the US as part of the Louisiana Purchase. In the 1830s, thousands of Native Americans were forcefully resettled within the state as part of the Indian Removal Act. Oklahoma gained attention with the famous 1889 Land Run, opening up the land for new settlers. The state’s nickname “The Sooner State” stems from these times. Oil became a major economic force, making the city of Tulsa the “Oil Capital of the World”.

Central Oklahoma

The central portion of the state with the capital Oklahoma City was largely settled within one day in 1889. Oklahoma City, the largest city in the state, is a blend of cosmopolitan and rural lifestyles. Entertainment options are best in the historic Bricktown area. Visitors like to take boat tours on the canal flowing through the city center. The Myriad Botanical Gardens are a great place to take the kids. At the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum one can marvel at western art and treasures. Oklahoma City makes for a great vacation, whether it is just a day trip, a weekend or a longer stay.

Other places in Central Oklahoma give testimony to the rich Native American influences. One of these towns is Shawnee. A wide variety of vineyards is scattered across the region. Wine tastings, winery tours and visits are very popular. Many other sights and activities attract visitors to Shawnee. Take an historic drive through downtown Shawnee, gazing at the famous stained glass, or visit the Round House Overall factory. Cultural offers abound in Shawnee which has many great venues including the Ritz and Shawnee Little Theatre as well as the Prague Historical Museum or the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art. Recreation is also great; many parks are located in and around Shawnee.

The Panhandle: Red Carpet Country

Northwestern Oklahoma is often referred to as “Red Carpet Country” due to its characteristic red soil. The region is predominantly rural and the people are known for their warm hospitality and friendly attitude towards visitors. Several tours lead through Oklahoma’s panhandle region. The Great Plains Trail is one of them. It is a road-based wildlife-viewing trail, consisting of 13 highway-based loops spanning the western portion of the state. Travelers are guided through areas with great opportunities to view wildlife. The trail includes designated stopping points on both public and private areas.

Several smaller towns are located across Red Carpet Country. The county seat of Cimarron County, Oklahoma’s westernmost county bordering with five states, is located in Boise City. In Cimarron County visitors can marvel at the ruts of the historic Santa Fe Trail or explore the tons of excavated dinosaur fossils. Many kinds of minerals, gems and seashells are found around the Black Mesa. Several strange rock formations like the Old Maid, Wedding Party and others are popular destinations.

The Northeast / Tulsa

The emerald hills of northeastern Oklahoma make for the nickname of the region: Green Country. Scenic drives through endless woods are guaranteed in this marvelous part of the state. The region has great lakes, high plains, and foothills at the same time.

The largest city of Green Country is Tulsa. Founded in 1836 as Tulsee Town, a tiny settlement under the now-famous oak tree, the town soon evolved into a bustling city with the discovery of oil in the early 20th century. Tulsa, located directly at world-famous Route 66, is a city with art deco treasures, renowned museums as well as a strong African American and multicultural influence. The cosmopolitan town appeals to both young and old, families as well as lone travelers. Outdoor fun is, for instance, guaranteed on one of the excellent golf courses. Oklahoma’s Jazz Hall of Fame, Gilcrease Museum, and the Philbrook Museum of Art are but few examples for the culture venues located in Tulsa. Accommodation options are as diverse as abundant.

The Southwest: Great Plains

Majestic granite mountains rise out of the vast plains in southwestern Oklahoma. Native American legends reverberate through the valleys and the region offers some of the finest sunsets in the state. Places worth while visiting include Cheyenne, located near the Washita Battlefield National Historic Site, Clinton, the Hub City of Western Oklahoma, and the hospitable Elk City, historically located by the cattle trail.

The Lawton-Fort Sill metropolitan region is full of historic buildings as well as a great collection of art museums and cultural facilities. The Fort is still existent today and houses the grave of the famed Apache chief Geronimo. The Fort Sill National Historic Landmark is also located here. For outdoor recreation the rugged splendor of the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge is the place to go. Hikers and backpackers wander up the slopes to the summit of Mount Scott, from where one has a great opportunity to capture some of the finest scenic impressions in the nation.

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