In the northwest, you even have a bit of desert at Little Sahara State Park.
So you can climb, hike, kayak and otherwise play outside to your heart’s content.
If you’re willing to drive.
It’s two or more hours of driving for me to visit my favorite places in the state. Tulsa residents might have it a little easier for some things, but for those of us in central or western Oklahoma, you’re going to drive unless you’re OK hanging out in our plentiful prairies.
At least that was my initial thinking. But as it turns out, urban outdoor adventure exists, right in the middle of Oklahoma City. I did a little thinking and came up with a few ideas for those who want to get outside but can’t commit to a longer trip.
Climbing: Go downtown to Rocktown. The former grain silo’s interior is fitted with climbing wall handholds and footholds, with routes of varying difficulty. They’ll teach you the basics of belaying and climbing, and it’s a cheap outing right downtown. When you’re done, all of Bricktown awaits. Check them out here: http://www.rocktowngym.com/index.html
Offroad biking: Check out the trails around Lake Thunderbird. I know the lake water there isn’t the prettiest, but the trails are good, plentiful and challenging. And it’s close. Cap off a solid day of biking with a few celebratory cold ones and some food in Norman. Plenty of trails also await bikers at Lake Stanley Draper.
Hiking: You’ve got your choice, though they will be mellow hikes short on challenge, but long on nature viewing. Good trails await at the Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge west of Bethany or the Martin Park Nature Center in north Oklahoma City. These places are also pretty kid-friendly, as the hikes are fairly short and are on easy-to-follow and well-maintained trails.
Water sports: This is where Oklahoma City excels, and it’s a scene that is diverse and growing. Outside of motorsports and fishing, there are plenty of options for human-powered water sports: kayaking in many metro lakes; rowing at Lake Hefner and the Oklahoma River; windsurfing at Lake Hefner. Later on, expect a whitewater kayaking course to be developed at the Oklahoma River as development downtown – and particularly at the river – continues.
Oklahoma City suffers from many of the same geographical limitations as other cities in the Great Plains, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things to do outside here. We’re blessed with fairly mild winters, and the spring and fall seasons are nice (outside the occasional severe storm).
Check out these opportunities (and these are not all of them by any means) and get outside more. You never know what you’ll see, do and grow into.