Also known as “Little Niagra,” the Chickasaw National Recreation Area located in Sulphur, OK is one of our very favorite (and FREE) local-ish day trip spots. Just 1 hr south of OKC straight down I-35 to the Davis exit, then head east for another 20 minutes and you land directly at the entrance to the park.

The Chickasaw National Recreation Area encompasses the entire Lake of the Arbuckles, as well as Veterans Lake. Although one of the more popular destinations is the Travertine Nature Center and Little Niagra Falls.

When traveling to the area, be sure to enter the correct destination in your GPS. If you set your destination to “Chickasaw National Recreation Area” it will direct you to the red pin located in the photo above. However, the Travertine Nature Center is located near the Cold Springs Campground (located in the top right on the map).
The Travertine Nature Center is the most popular area for day-use picnics and swimming.

The Nature Center offers clean bathroom facilities, a gift shop, nature displays, and a scavenger hunt for kids. If you enjoy hiking, there is a short 1.5 mile easy trail that leads to Antelope Springs and Buffalo Springs, the natural springs that feed into the creek. If you choose to visit the springs, be aware that swimming is strictly prohibited anywhere upstream of the Travertine Nature Center.

Swimming is allowed in all areas downstream of the Travertine Nature Center. But be prepared, the natural spring water is C-O-L-D all year round. Although it’s a welcoming respite from the summertime heat.

Day use of the swimming holes and picnic areas is free to the public. Overnight camping runs about $10/night per tent.

This summer we got to introduce a few of our friends to this little-known gem. Now that we’ve shared one of our favorite nature spots with the internet world, we ask that you promise to follow these simple rules:

  • Leave it better than you found it!!! Pick up ALL of your trash, and any trash you see left behind by others. The earth needs US to take care of it.
  • Respect nature!!! Do not disturb the landscape or animals.
  • CLEAN UP after your pet!!! Sure, other animals may use the great outdoors as their personal bathroom, but that doesn’t mean your dog has to contribute. Plus, nobody wants to swim near or step in your dog’s poop.
  • Be safe!!! Slipping on rocks and busting your head open will ruin the party. Use caution when exploring so you can keep the good times rolling.