You can't ski in OKC

Erin Burke

I started at liquidfish in January of this year after having moved from Denver the week before. OKC actually reminds me of Denver twelve years ago, when it was still kind of a hidden gem not too many people knew about. OKC is my new hidden gem. Coming from Colorado, I’m used to having the opportunity for just about any outdoor activity I could imagine right outside my doorstep. One of my main concerns about moving here was that I wouldn’t be able to do these things anymore. But Oklahoma, you have surprised me. I think the only thing I can’t do here is ski.

Since I’m new to Oklahoma, I don’t know if I’m qualified to suggest things to do here, but I am going to anyway. Here are some of the outdoor activities and places available to us right here in Oklahoma:

Wichita mountains wildlife refuge

Only an hour and a half from Oklahoma City, this is one of the coolest places I have been to in Oklahoma so far. Drive up the long and winding road to the top of Mount Scott and take in the beautiful scenery below you. Cruise around the miles and miles of open space and look for animals; I watched as a buffalo ate some grass within feet of me and had a staring contest with a longhorn while it laid out in the sun. You can hike around on a ton different trails for hours. Camping is available as well, which would be amazing, but I’m a little bit wary of those longhorns and buffaloes wandering around so close by.

Riversport adventure park

Whitewater rafting is a blast. If you’ve never done it, I highly recommend giving it a try. And guess what? You can do it right here in OKC! In my past experiences with rafting, you’re sporting a wetsuit and paddling down a rushing river through the mountains. It’s pretty likely you’ll fall out at some point during the trip, and it’s very likely the water will be freezing. Regardless of the wetsuit and the icy water, it’s an amazing time. I always jump at the opportunity to go rafting, so when I heard there was whitewater rafting in the middle of Oklahoma City, I was immediately interested but skeptical at the same time due to past experiences that brought about thoughts like, “There’s no way rafting in a man-made course in the middle of the city will be fun. You can only raft in a real river in the real mountains.” Well, I was wrong. The rafting course at Riversport in the Boathouse District is just as exciting as the rapids in a mountain river (minus the scenery). It’s actually better in some ways because all they have to do is turn a knob to make the water more or less powerful. No relying on the snow melting or waiting on rainfall to make the rapids bigger. They also turn the water down for a bit so you can climb in your own personal tube and float your way down the course; something you definitely could not (safely) do in a mountain river full of rapids. This place doesn’t just have rafting though, it’s an all-around outdoor adventure park. There’s a high ropes course, a zipline across the Oklahoma River, kayaking, paddle boarding, and even a free fall jump (in a harness, don’t worry). If you’re craving some real outdoor adventure, this is your place.

Lake hefner

This big, beautiful lake on the north end of Oklahoma City makes you feel like you live near a beach somewhere. Although you’re not allowed to swim or use motor vehicles in Lake Hefner, you can take part in just about any other water sport you can think of. Every time I visit Lake Hefner, I see people windsurfing, kayaking, and paddleboarding. Sailing is a big attraction here as well, and if you don’t know how, they’ve got you covered! Take some lessons, or rent out a boat and just hang while a local sailor does all the work. Go for a nice, long walk on the trails that wrap around the entire lake. At the end of your lake day when you’re hungry and tired, check out some of the many restaurants bordering the edge of the lake and watch the sunset over the water.

Bike routes

Biking is another activity I thought might be tough in Oklahoma City. I am not a fan of biking on the street, and Denver has an insane amount of bike trails that can get you virtually anywhere. I assumed this was unique to the bike-crazed state of Colorado, but it turns out there are over 80 miles of bike trails around the Oklahoma City area! There are 10 main trails, and they all connect so you don’t have to bike on the street too much on your rides. I know in the past couple weeks it seems like there has been more rain than sun; but in the coming weeks, those biking trails will be calling Oklahoma City’s name.

Continuing to do the outdoor activities I loved to do in Colorado has made my transition to this new place so much easier. You still can’t ski in Oklahoma, but there’s still no shortage of outdoor adventures to take part in here and, luckily, they’re right outside my doorstep.