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Tucked in the far southeastern corner of Oklahoma, the Beavers Bend area is Oklahoma’s tourism Cinderella story. The sight of the rolling Ouachita Mountains, the feel and smell of the breeze through the tall pines, and the gentle sounds of waters lapping on the shores of Broken Bow Lake or rippling over rocks in the Mountain Fork River lure visitors. Add a plethora of activities and Beavers Bend is dressed and ready for guests to have a ball. It is the perfect place for your Beavers Bend Getaways.
Beavers Bend is Off the Beaten Path
Originally the site of an old Choctaw settlement, the area was dependent on the lumber industry in the early 20th century. In the ‘30s the State of Oklahoma created Beavers Bend State Park. Broken Bow Lake was created in 1969.
Cabins and camping were available early on. A lodge, opened in the late ‘90s, added another amenity. Several new restaurants and a winery opened up—and so did the floodgates. Texans, particularly from the Dallas-Fort Worth area, discovered the beauty of the area and the outdoor experiences and the rush was on for Beavers Bend getaways. Oklahomans woke up to the treasure in their backyard and joined the party.
Today it’s hard to keep up with all the changes. In addition to stone and timber cabins surrounded by tall trees and the lakeside lodge in the state park, visitors have their pick of nearly 3,000 privately-owned cabins ranging from rustic to royal. Lots of activities are available, but, for those just looking for quiet and isolation, that, too, is an option.
For some ghost stories to tell around the campfire be sure to check out The Haunted History of Beavers Bend: Tragic Tales of Old Hochatown by Michael Robert Willeby.
Let’s Get Physical in Beavers Bend
There are plenty of great outdoor activities in Beavers Bend, offering something for just about everyone.
Scuba divers are attracted to the crystal, clear waters of Broken Bow Lake. Fisherfolk go for the several varieties of bass, crappie, catfish, and sunfish. Below the dam, the cold water coming from the depths of the lake make the Mountain Fork River a popular trout stream year-round.
Boating is a sure way to get the most from your Beavers Bend getaway. Warm weather signals the re-opening of lake tours with Tiki Boat Tours. Paddleboats, house, and pontoon boats are available for rent on the lake.
Canoers and kayakers enjoy paddling placid coves on the lake or, for those who want a little more excitement, sections of the river have Class II rapids and a small waterfall. (There’s a work-around for reticent river rats.)
Hiking in Beavers Bend
Numerous trails appeal to hikers. Difficulty ranges from super-easy short nature hikes to challenging treks. The 1.1 mile, looping Forest Heritage Tree Trail takes casual hikers through pine-scented woods to Beaver Creek and over a wooden bridge. Experienced hikers like the seven-mile Skyline Trail—steep spots and water crossings can be difficult but hikers are rewarded with stunning views of tree-covered mountains and valleys.
Riding the Rails in Beavers Bend
Add a steam locomotive to your Beavers Bend getaway at Beavers Bend Depot and Stables in the park offers a two-and-a-half-mile, guided, easy trail ride—no water crossings, steep hills, or rough ground—just a pleasant ramble through the woods. For more of a challenge, Riverman Trail Rides take riders into the mountains.
Back at Beavers Bend Depot, all ages riding through the forest on a miniature train pulled by a one-third-sized replica of an 1863 locomotive. For a different way to see the park, try a Segway tour.
High Adventure in Beavers Bend
Off-road, ATV, and four-wheel-drive adventurers will also find places to pursue their sport. There are several designated ATV trails in the area. Four-wheelers love the bumps and ruts of old logging roads in the Ouachita National Forest.
For a bird’s-eye view of the terrain, you can’t beat Ruguru Adventures’ zipline. Six lines with a total of 3,188-feet take you through the trees and over an arm of the lake. Some stair-climbing and hiking are involved but, if your knees are good, you’ll enjoy the swift swoosh along the cable and the tree-top view of the landscape and lake.
For a people’s-eye view of birds, check out the McCurtain County Wilderness Area. A self-guided walking trail winds through part of the largest virgin, shortleaf pine/hardwood forest in the nation. A flash of black and white or rapid tapping may signal a red-cockaded woodpecker, seen in Oklahoma only in this area.
A little farther afield, the Red Slough Wildlife Management Area, a wetland restoration project southeast of Idabel, boasts a mini-Gulf climate. Over 290 bird species have been documented here including roseate spoonbills, anhingas, and wood storks. Just keep your eyes peeled for alligators.
Accommodations in Beavers Bend
The right place to lay your head can make your Beavers Bend getaway. Beavers Bend State Park, a star attraction in the area, has two distinct sections. The Mountain Fork River, below the dam, is the heart of the park. Riverside cabins are favorites among a number of cabin options. Yurts, glamping’s answer to tents, are the latest addition to the camping and RV areas. This southern part of the park is also home to the Forest Heritage Center Museum. The museum exhibits feature the lumber industry. There is a gallery featuring wood art including carving, woodturning, intarsia, marquetry, furniture, and sculptures.
The northern part of the park is the site of Lakeview Lodge—a 40-room, hotel-style accommodation—and Cedar Creek Golf Course. Several of the holes on this scenic course have great lake views. And even if you don’t make an eagle, you just might see a live one.
There are several motels in the area. Private cabins can be booked through VRBO.
Dining in Beavers Bend
Dining here tends to be casual—lots of burgers, pizzas, etc. One of the newest restaurants is Swadley’s Foggy Bottom Kitchen in the state park. The menu here is crammed with comfort food—think chicken and dumplings, meatloaf, and chicken-fried steak. A good view of the river makes the big, back deck a favorite spot for watching wildlife.
A bit more upscale is Abendigo’s Grill and Patio–American with flair. Mountain Fork Brewery and Grateful Head Pizza Oven & Tap Room are good choices for pizza. A number of eateries also schedule live music.
As for beverages, the area is host to four wineries and two breweries. The region has a long history with homebrew—moonshine. Hochatown Distilling Company does it legally, producing both straight bourbon whiskey, which goes down much more smoothly than its crude ancestor, and vodka.
Something Extra While You're in Beavers Bend
Like Louisiana’s lagniappe, Beavers Bend offers everything you’d expect of a popular lake destination and then adds a surprise. A few miles south in Idabel, you’ll find one of Oklahoma’s finest, but lesser-known, museums. The ethnographic Museum of the Red River has an extensive collection of cultural items from many parts of the world with special emphasis on the arts of the Americas. Exhibits range from centuries-old fabrics and pottery to contemporary interpretations of traditional arts.
As a bonus, and a favorite with young visitors, an Acrocanthsaurus atokensis, a Cretaceous carnivore, first discovered near here, is on display. A fund drive by grade-school children enabled the museum to obtain this cast of the original bones.
Unlike the fairy tale, there’s no prince—or palace—in Beavers Bend. You will find beautiful scenery and many attractions. So, come to Beavers Bend and write your own story. A happy ending is guaranteed. Looking for more outdoor adventures? Check out these great outdoor travel suggestions from other Wander writers.