Oklahoma in Pictures: 23 Beautiful Places to Photograph
Oklahoma is the land where the buffalo really do roam. It's also a land filled with cowboys (the real ones who ride horses and wear cowboy hats and boots), Native Americans, and an incredibly diverse landscape. From rushing waterfalls to flat prairies to magnificent mountains to refreshing lakes, the topography in this state is as diverse as its residents.
Oklahoma is a treasure for those who love the outdoors and taking pictures. In addition to hiking, swimming, and riding horseback (of course), adventurers can climb craggy rock faces or spelunk in dark caves. With almost a quarter of its land enveloped by forest, over 200 man-make lakes, and four massive mountain ranges, there's no shortage of things to do (or photograph) in this impressive state.
Thinking of planning a trip? Get inspired with our list of the most beautiful places to photograph in Oklahoma.
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1. Turner Falls, Davis
If you're looking to de-stress, Turner Falls is the place to be. Nestled within the Arbuckle Mountains in Turner Falls Park, these 77-foot falls are purported to be one of Oklahoma's largest. That's quite a feat considering how many wonderful waterfalls pepper the state. In addition to the spectacular cascade, you'll find deep caves to explore, trails to hike, and streams to fish and swim in. Don't miss the Rock Castle; water slides; and soft, sandy beaches.
2. Gloss Mountain State Park
Hiking Cathedral Mountain is one of the most popular things to do at Gloss Mountain State Park. Time your climb for sunrise or sunset for the most rewarding and photogenic vistas. Home to a majestic mountain range (a.k.a. the Glass Mountains), the park closes at night, so you'll want to arrive early to get the most from your visit.
3. Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge
Over 59,000 acres of spectacular wilderness welcome visitors to this impressive wildlife refuge. Established in 1901, the area protects hundreds of plant and bird species, as well as fish, reptiles, amphibians, and other creatures (like elk, bison, and longhorn cattle). It's a wonderfully wild mix of towering mountains, mixed grass prairies, and sparkling lakes just 30 minutes northwest of Lawton.
4. Roman Nose State Park, Watonga
From golfing to rock climbing to swimming, it's hard to get bored in Roman Nose State Park, nestled within a breathtakingly gorgeous canyon. Hop in a paddle boat, hike one of the area's many forested trails, or fish in a super clear lake. You'll want to ensure your camera's battery is fully charged before heading to this wonderland.
5. Beavers Bend State Park
Set serenely upon the shores of Broken Bow Lake and Mountain Fork River is the beautiful Beavers Bend State Park. A haven for outdoor adventurers, this utopia offers visitors a chance to become one with nature. Whether you love to fish, waterski, canoe, hike, camp, or cycle, you're sure to fall in love with this lovely spot.
6. Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa
This lovely Renaissance villa is as much a masterpiece as the wide collection of art it holds inside its elegant walls in Tulsa. Once home to the oil-rich Waite and Genevieve Philips, what then served as lavish living quarters are now galleries featuring impressive pieces (both modern and contemporary) from around the world. Don't miss the accompanying formal gardens.
Accommodation: Best Hotels in Tulsa
7. Natural Falls State Park, West Siloam Springs
Who doesn't love a waterfall? This mesmerizing 77-foot cascade is as tall as Turner Falls and equally as impressive. Located within the Ozarks in the northeastern section of the state, the falls are known to locals as "Dripping Springs." Viewing platforms set above and below the falls allow visitors to get incredible views (and pictures) from every angle.
8. Red Rock Canyon Adventure Park
Giant red boulders line what was formerly known as Red Rock Canyon State Park. Renamed to include "adventure" in its title, this scenic park offers visitors a pleasant mix of activity and relaxation. Hike through the towering forest on the Canyon Ridge Trail or try your luck at angling in the small pond at the Canyon Campground.
9. Talimena National Scenic Byway, Southeast Oklahoma
There’s no shortage of beauty along the 54-mile Talimena National Scenic Byway. This breathtaking route winds its way along the edge of Rich and Winding Stair Mountains, which lie in the dense Ouachita National Forest. The Byway also makes its way into four miles of Arkansas. While the drive can take just over an hour to complete, it’s almost impossible to avoid stopping to ogle the impressive scenery, so expect to be out for much longer.
10. Chickasaw National Recreation Area, Sulphur
You won’t want to leave once you’ve experienced the fun and natural beauty on offer at Chickasaw National Recreation Area. Luckily, there are seven campgrounds on site for those who can’t tear themselves away. Whether you swim, hike, kayak, horseback ride, bike, or fish, you’ll enjoy this spectacular setting. Lake of the Arbuckles is the park’s largest body of water and primed for boating and other water-based fun.
11. Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum
On April 19, 1995, the lives of many Oklahomans changed forever. The Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum honors the victims, survivors, and rescuers who were affected by the Oklahoma City bombing that took place on that horrible day. It rests downtown as a reminder, educator, and place of reflection, erected on the site of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, which was demolished during the attack.
12. Robbers Cave State Park, Wilburton
Caves and boulders and forests, oh my! Robbers Cave State Park is a beauty. Set in the southeastern section of the state, deep within the San Bois Mountains, this park is a fabulous place to become one with the great outdoors. Hop on a horse, rappel down a cliff, or hike through the rugged forest. There are so many wonderful ways you can enjoy nature at its best.
13. Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, Lawton
Bison and elk and wild turkey, oh my! There are so many native species roaming the ruggedly gorgeous Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge that you might think you’re on a safari. Look closely as you wander the prairie trails through this vast (it’s over 59,000 acres) landscape, and you’ll spy bobcats, coyotes, and Texas Longhorn Cattle. The majestic Mount Scott boasts a peak worth exploring.
14. Lake Hefner, Oklahoma City
A perfect place to watch the sunset, Lake Hefner is also a key spot to unwind. Whether you choose to luxuriate on the shore, fish off the dock, bike, rollerblade, hike along the trails, or sail across the lake's sparkling water, you'll soon forget you're in the heart of busy Oklahoma City. Plus, your camera will fall in love with this adorable lighthouse.
Accommodation: Top-Rated Hotels in Oklahoma City
15. Myriad Botanical Gardens, Oklahoma City
A perfect place to escape, the Myriad Botanical Gardens boast 15 acres of tranquil space within bustling Oklahoma City. Visitors favor the garden's beautiful centerpiece — the large Crystal Bridge Conservatory, a 13,000-square-foot greenhouse protecting a tropical forest with over 750 plant species and a lovely waterfall. Traveling with kids? They'll never want to leave the massive and fun children's playground.
16. Route 66
Bet you didn't know the famous and historic Route 66 is also known as the Will Rogers Highway. Why visit a stretch of road, you ask? Because it runs alongside 400 miles of impressive buildings, including Art Deco skyscrapers, quirky gas stations, and old-school general stores. It also passes beautiful bridges and strange attractions (we're talking about you giant Blue Whale and massive Golden Driller). It's the most iconic road in Oklahoma, with plenty of photo opportunities along Route 66 (a.k.a. "the Mother road").
17. Oklahoma State Capitol, Oklahoma City
The iconic Greco-Roman Oklahoma State Capitol building is impossible to miss. Set on over 100 acres of perfectly manicured grounds, this is the only state capitol surrounded by functioning oil wells. It also boasts 650 rooms. Built between 1914 and 1917, the capitol is home to the state's government. Admission is free, but if you're hoping for a guided tour, we suggest scheduling it in advance.
18. Oklahoma State University, Stillwater
The striking Edmon Low Library has graced the Oklahoma State University's campus since 1953. Located in Stillwater, which has been dubbed one of the top six Friendliest Cities in the South, OSU is a public university with over 18,000 undergraduate students. You're guaranteed to be served with a smile in this sweet city.
19. Marland Estate Mansion, Ponca City
Oil baron E.W. Marland once lived in this magnificent home, where elegance still drips from every surface. Dubbed the "Palace on the Prairie," this home resembles more of a royal residence than a wealthy man's domicile. Marland employed a team of artists, decorators, and sculptors, headed by architect John Duncan Forsyth, to create this lavish estate. Much of its beauty lies outside the ornate walls, so be sure to schedule time to see Lake Whitemarch, the swimming pool, the boathouse, and vast gardens.
20. Medicine Park
The state's first resort town, Medicine Park was founded at the start of the 20th century (in 1908 to be exact). Founder John William Elmer Thomas wanted to get everything right. He was hoping to attract visitors from across the country, after all. Over time, what was once a bustling vacation spot that featured the glistening Bath Lake and its accompanying waterfall had fallen into disarray. The Great Depression and WWII didn't help. Luckily, the 1980s brought a time of repair and restoration to the area, which is a go-to destination once again.
21. Little Sahara State Park, Waynoka
Named after the iconic African desert, Little Sahara State Park exemplifies Oklahoma's amazingly varied topography. Covering more than 1,600 acres, the incredible sand dunes that make up this unique park rise to as high as 75 feet. ATV and dune buggy tours are a must if you want a truly unforgettable experience. To get here, head just south of Waynoka.
22. Osage Hills State Park, Pawhuska
There’s a lot to love about Osage Hills State Park. Once a settlement of the Osage Indians, this captivating spot oozes serenity. Boasting 1,100 acres nestled into the area’s rolling hills, this park is home to cascading waterfalls, dense forests, numerous hiking trails, a swimming pool, and a lake and creek stocked with fish.
23. Black Mesa State Park, Kenton
Black Mesa State Park sprawls along the Oklahoma Panhandle, within spitting distance of New Mexico. Named for the black lava rocks that layered the mesa millions of years ago, this is a scenic spot to enjoy a hike. Lake Carl Etling lies next to the park and offers camping, boat ramps, trout fishing, and facilities.