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Chickasaw National Recreation Area
the nature center and museum 6.50 Oklahoma ratingStar
Chickasaw National Recreation Area guyonthego

Chickasaw National Recreation Area is a 10,000 acre park that was created to protect a number of freshwater springs. This US government park opened in 1904, making it the oldest such park in Oklahoma. In addition to the natural springs, the park has a 2,350 acre manmade lake, hiking trails and a nature center/museum.

The Chickasaw Tribe sold this land to the US government in 1902, in order to protect the springs. It became the Platt National Park in 1906, and in its heyday the park was a major gathering spot and something of a boomtown as people flocked here to escape the heat and to seek cures for ailments. The springs were considered to have magical healing properties such that even doctors wrote prescriptions for them. In the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps built park projects such as roads, bridges and basins. The park was combined with a nearby recreation area in the 1970s, and took its present name at that time.

The former national park area includes the natural springs and a nature center. The nature center has live snakes and fish as well as information about ecosystems and the springs’ functionality. The main walking trails are located behind the nature center, where a gravel path forms a loop and connects to several dirt trail extensions. The gravel path was a pleasant short walk in the woods and passed by some springs. The dirt extensions did not add much and the Prairie Loop Trail extension was overgrown with brush. There is a short trail on Bromide Hill which has decent views of the town and also a concrete walking path around Veteran’s Lake. Additional springs located near the town had some historical interpretive signs. While the springs were somewhat distinctive, background information was scant. The attractions here were insufficiently notable to recommend a visit. The park can work though for recreational boating or as a picnic venue. Boaters flock to the 2,350 acre Lake of the Arbuckles in summer, especially on weekends.
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