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A population of 4,000 call quaint, quiet Broken Bow, Oklahoma home. This McCurtain County gem is nestled in the Southeast corner of the state, in the foothills of the Kiamichi Mountains. It is a wonderful place to raise children, start a business, or visit for a week-long stay or a quick weekend jaunt. A nature lover’s dream, Broken Bow Lake and Beavers Bend State Park offer acres of national forest land, clear running rivers, and woodland animals. A year-round popular destination, Broken Bow sparkles in the winter and is a place to have an adventure in the great outdoors spring through fall. Before we dive into the list of things to do in Broken Bow, let’s learn a bit about the history of this area.
History of Broken Bow
The history of Broken Bow begins in earnest with the Choctaw Indians, weary from their journey along the “Trail of Tears”, settled here. They noticed the clean waters and wooded forests and knew they could make Broken Bow a home. They originally called it “Con-Chito” and built a village in what is now downtown. Their influence is felt throughout the town and McCurtain County as a whole, as they lived here for 75 years.
The beauty of the area as well as the abundance of harvestable forests also appealed to the pioneer lumbermen, Herman and Fred Dierks of the Choctaw Lumber Company. These men from Broken Bow, Nebraska, purchased the land in 1911 and named the community after their old home. The original town, consisting of 230 acres, was platted soon thereafter and the Dierks sawmill was one of the largest in the US.
The Dierks family built up the area in fact with many generous donations (like land, hospitals, schools, and more) and pioneered the way for other small mills to start up in the area. The manufacturing industry continued to grow in the area, bringing jobs and settlers – all the while growing the town into what it is today.
The top things to do in Broken Bow
From trail hiking to horseback riding to a slew of delicious eateries – there is plenty to see and do in Broken Bow, OK.
Explore the great outdoors in Broken Bow
Beavers Bend State Park
If you and your family love outdoor activities and getting in touch with nature, you can find everything – everything! – in Beavers Bend State Park. Canoeing, kayaking, horseback riding, paddleboats and mini golf are just a few of the activities you’ll find in the area. It is one of Oklahoma’s most popular areas for tourists and locals alike, with good reason. The winding roads provide beautiful vistas of pine forests. Tennis, volleyball, picnic areas, hundreds of miles of hiking trails and a massive, crystal-clear lake (see Broken Bow Lake below) are all accessible within the park. There is even a grocery store, restaurant, gift shop, and an amphitheater within the limits. Bring ALL the family members along, because leashed pets are welcome here.
Broken Bow Lake
Nine miles northeast of Broken Bow you’ll find one of the best attractions in McCurtain County – Broken Bow Lake. It is incredibly scenic and its close proximity to Beavers Bend State Park makes the entire area a must-visit. There are hiking trails, fishing spots, boating, canoeing, kayaking, scuba diving, and plenty of places to relax. This lake has 180 miles of shoreline and you’d be shocked that it is often missed, tucked away in the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains. It is the ideal depth for smallmouth bass fishing and the number of small islands in the area make for funs tops on a canoe or boat.
This unspoiled river runs through most of McCurtain County and is totally untamed, meaning no dams block its course. It is a bit remote and difficult to navigate for kayakers and canoers, but it is popular all the same. It starts its trek in the southwest corner of the Kiamichi Mountains, parallels Hwy 259 until it flows into the Little River, and turns off to the east. When the river is low, rocks, logs, and low falls make for a difficult float, and when the river is up, the journey is very dangerous.
Mountain Fork River
You’ll want to settle down in the lower portion of this river which offers twelve miles of year-round trout fishing, not to mention extra fishing space at its tributaries from the Broken Bow dam downstream to US-70 bridge. Those who don’t fish love to canoe, kayak, or gently float down the river in an inner tube during the warm weather months. There are about five miles of the Lower Mountain Fork River within Beavers Bend State Park, where boat access is unlimited.
River Man Trail Horseback Rides
Authentic Western horseback riding from trail bosses who have a combined 40 years of experience. Explore the Ouachita Mountains and cross creeks with this company (a BBQ lunch is included) and you’ll be glad you did.Whether taking a short or long ride, Riverman Trail Rides provides the perfect setting for bird watchers, wildlife photographers and nature enthusiasts of all kinds. Day rides are available as well as overnight primitive rides. There are 14 horses to choose from and reservations can be made all year round.
Little River National Wildlife Refuge
An excellent location for observation, photography, fishing, and more – the Little River National Wildlife Refuge offers over 15,000 acres of creeks, sloughs, oxbow lakes, and dynamic wetland forests. The wildlife is diverse and abundant here with thriving species of white-tailed deer, raccoons, swamp rabbits, and Alligators.
Three Rivers Wildlife Management Area
This is best area for hunting in Broken Bow. The Three Rivers Wildlife Management Area covers 203,180 acres. By purchasing a Land Access Fee permit (available at all hunting and fishing license vendors) the public can enter this private space. Game species of interest include quail, deer, turkey and waterfowl. Three walk-in only turkey hunting areas offer hunters an opportunity to hunt free from disturbance off the main road. Fishing opportunities exist for sunfish, bass and channel catfish in small ponds and the Glover River, which bisects the Three Rivers Wildlife Management Area.
Red Slough Wildlife Management Area
If you want to see alligators on your trip to Broken Bow – come to the Red Slough Wildlife Management Area. It is probably due to the 5800 acres of marshes, wetlands, lakes, and forests. Their prime season for activity is March through October. The Red Slough Wildlife Management Area is the only documented breeding area for the American Alligator in Oklahoma, with about one nest found each year. It is also a popular place to view more traditional animals and birds, including some rare birds and thousands of ducks that migrate here. Birders have likened this area to the gulf coast habitats of Florida and Louisiana, due to the frequency of sightings and the exoticness of species. There is hunting permitted here, but also a waterfowl refuge area.
Lakeview Lodge Trail
A four mile trail comprised of three loops of various distances, the Lakeview Lodge Trail is an easy hike or mountain bike ride for all skill levels. Perfect for a daytime outing, hikers will enjoy these easy to follow trails for their beautiful pine trees and varied terrain. The trail is meant to be followed in a clockwise direction.
Cedar Greek Golf Course
Here’s what you’ll find at Cedar Creek: 18-holes of supreme golf course surrounded by acres of gorgeous, pristine woodlands. The holes themselves were carved out of the wilds, so you’ll feel as if you’re playing golf while strolling through the woods. In fact, Golf Digest Magazine gave Cedar Creek Golf Course a 4 ½ Star rating out of 5 Stars. You’ll have a view of Broken Bow Lake as you play along the narrow pine-rimmed fairways, and the par 72 course has a pro shop with club rentals and a driving range.
Learn about Broken Bow through its museums
Forest Heritage Center Museum
The forests are extremely important to Broken Bow and McCurtain County and the Forest Heritage Center Museum showcases that fact through a series of 14 large dioramas painted by famous Smokey Bear artist Harry Rossoll. There are historic photographs illustrating the logging industry in Broken Bow as well as a mascot who encourages planting trees.
Peter Toth Totem Pole
Peter Toth’s sculpture collection is renowned around the country and the “Trail of Tears” series is no different. All of his monuments are his own concept of the North American Indian and bear many similarities, except for certain characteristics, which pertain to the Indians of that region, such as feathers, headbands, or other decorations.
Gardner Mansion & Museum
This museum is well-known for its collection of pre-historic and historic Indian and pioneer artifacts. It was built in 1884 as a mansion for a man named Jefferson Gardner, who would then become the chief of the Choctaw tribe for several years.
Beavers Bend Wildlife Museum
You’ll find more wildlife habitat dioramas at the Beavers Bend Wildlife Museum – located inside the state park – with information about native animals such as feeding habits. Experience the animals with all five senses – as you can literally “hear” them racing through the woods or feel the soft fur. Visitors learn about local animals like elk, wolves, and fish, but there is also an “Out of Africa” exhibiting showcasing zebras, elephants, antelope, and more species from the continent, including many plants. Tours are available every hour, as well as customized tours for school and church groups. For self-guided tours, headsets that explain each scene are available at the front.
Get your drink on
Fish Tales Winery and Vineyard
A winery created by a couple who loves fly fishing and fine vintages. See the wooden tasting room where the most delicious Muscadine wines are served.
Beaver’s Bend Brewery
Craft beer at its finest brought to you by three owners with 35 years of experience. BBB features both year-round and seasonal brews; Hoppin’ Howlapeno Ale, Red Slough Amber, blonde ale, Fleucy Creek Pale Ale, Front Porch Peach Ale and fall pumpkin seasonal ale.
Dining in Broken Bow
When you’re hungry, there are a handful of tremendous places to stop in and eat a perfect meal to re-energize and keep enjoying the area’s attractions. Here are four that are extremely high-rated on TripAdvisor in Broken Bow:
Grateful Head Pizza Oven & Tap Room
A perfect spot for a cold pint and a gourmet pie set in the gorgeous Ouachita Mountains near Broken Bow Lake. Kids will love the free Wifi and adults enjoy the live music on the weekends in the beer garden.
Steven’s Gap Restaurant
Down home, piping hot, hearty, authentic country cooking would be the most accurate way to describe Steven’s Gap Restaurant. Near Beavers Bend State Park, this restaurant is the ideal place to recharge your batteries after a long day of hiking with generous portions and a genial atmosphere. Have a cup of hot coffee at breakfast, or stop in for lunch or dinner and enjoy sandwiches, burgers, chicken fridge steak, their famous catfish meal, and even homemade pie.
Abendigo’s Grill & Patio
“Gorgeous”, “elegant”, “remote” are three words that are often used to describe the look and location of Abendigo’s Grill & Patio. You’ll find one of the best all around dining establishments in McCurtain County here, made even better by the addition of an outdoor patio that has live music from spring through fall. Come for the excellent service and a relaxed atmosphere, and be sure to stay for the juicy steak and savory appetizers.
Adam & Eve’s
Adam & Eve’s has it all, but you’ll want to come straight here in the morning for coffee. Get your buzz on before a long day of outdoor adventures with all of the delicious flavors offered here like white chocolate mocha, salted caramel, pumpkin, Irish cream, peppermint, and many more. Open seven days a week, this coffee house also does triple duty as an eatery and general store, with muffins, sandwiches and ice cream or frappes available among other goodies.
Annual Broken Bow Events
There are a handful of events each year in Broken Bow that are deemed “must attend” for both locals and tourists. You would be smart to travel to the area during these fun, family-friendly festivals.
- Owa-Chito Festival of the Forest at Beavers Bend State Park
During the third weekend in June the city of Broken Bow comes alive with the Kiamichi Owa-Chito Festival of the Forest at Beavers Bend State Park. The festival looks to embrace the spirit and heritage of the forest, as well as the beauty, culture, and industry in Kiamichi Country. There are traditional forestry contests like double buck sawing, jack-n-jill crosscut, ax throwing and more. A “Bull of the Woods” winner is selected from the men and women participating. The festival also features an art show, fiddle contest, Miss Choctaw Owa-Chito pageant, and live music throughout. There is plenty for children to do during the festival, so bring the whole family.
- Masters of Wood Art Exhibit at the Forest Heritage Center
Artists from various woodturning clubs compete in this two-day event for the title of “Master” woodturner. You can watch as artists use chunks of wood into art, and those who come to the museum up to a month after the competition will be able to be awed by the incredible works created by this group of skilled craftsmen.
- Beavers Bend Folk Festival & Craft Show at Beavers Bend State Park
One of the biggest annual events in Broken Bow, the three-day Beavers Bend Folk Festival & Craft show features turn-of-the-century crafts and demonstrations, folk music, a barnyard petting zoo and more. There are many hands-on demonstrations throughout the festival with nearly 70 vendors showcasing vintage crafting skills like candlemaking, herbalists, soapmaking, quilting, blacksmithing, and more. The all star folk ensembles playing set the mood with the twang of banjos and the hum of fiddles. Snack on kettle corn, tacos, kabobs, corn dogs, funnel cakes, apple cider and much more. For the kids, there will be live storytelling, hay rides, and puppet shows. The fall timing allows Broken Bow to showcase beautiful foliage to visitors. Attendance and parking are free.
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