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New adventures at the Chickasaw National Recreation Area

Cathleen Rychner / Red Dirt Report
Little Niagara.
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EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the latest photo essay and commentary from Red Dirt Report photojournalist Cathleen Rychner.

SULPHUR, Okla. – After the month of May, Little Niagara is finally a beautiful waterfall again, and crowds of visitors can enjoy swimming in the pond and jumping from the top of the falls. A previous trip to the Chickasaw National Recreation Area in Sulphur was a day full of hiking on trails around the many streams and springs at the park, but that day revealed a dry Little Niagara and streams that were considerably lower than normal. All that has changed after the recent rains. Just a couple of months ago, the stepping stones along the hiking trails stood dry, but now the water levels are high enough to soak your shoes when crossing them. The rains and flooding were so intense that reeds and trees under a bridge entering Travertine Island were bent to the ground. Despite the recent flooding, the water levels are back to normal, and roads and streams are open.

Little Niagara is probably the most popular swimming location because of the falls and deep pond at the bottom. If a packed swimming spot at Little Niagara is not your idea of fun, just drive around the park and find one of the many hidden falls and ponds to swim. Whether you prefer wading in shallow streams or swimming in deeper water, there are plenty of hidden ponds to stay cool. 

There are not enough good things that can be said about this park. Little Niagara is beautiful, but the park is more than that. It is such a lovely gem in Oklahoma that everyone should take some time to explore. The park is sprinkled with pavilions, springs, and beautiful swimming holes. There is even a bridge that looks like a castle, complete with turrets. 

This second trip to the national park revealed new places to discover. Antelope, Buffalo, and Hillside Springs are quiet retreats where you can sit back and enjoy natural bubbling springs.  Bromide Pavilion and Pavilion Springs are two more spots to definitely visit. Make your way to Pavilion Springs and follow the stream through a tunnel and under the nearby road. 

A favorite discovery was Travertine Island – a beautiful hidden park surrounded by streams. Find the large picnic area on Travertine Island where you will stumble upon some ancient ruins, at least it seems that way with its stone tables and benches hidden amongst the thick trees. Stone benches line the entire area, and two large stone tables, along with a couple of grills, make for the perfect place for a large family picnic. 

So pack a swimsuit, bug spray (mosquitoes are out in full force), a hat, sun screen, a picnic lunch, and definitely a camera, and take a drive out to Sulphur to see the Chickasaw National Recreation Area. You will fall in love with this beautiful place and want to visit it over and over again.

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About the Author

Cathleen Rychner

Cathleen Rychner is an Oklahoma native currently working at OU. She also has a passion for...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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