Blessed with ten various geographic regions, Oklahoma’s breathtaking landscape is an outdoor lover’s dream. The state offers everything from spectacular plains to sights of intimidating mountain peaks, all of which are waiting to be explored by adventure enthusiasts.
Are you planning to go on an overlanding trip to Oklahoma? Here are some of the best overlanding trips and trails you can visit in the Sooner State. Pack up your essential overland gear and get ready to explore!
Overlanding In Oklahoma
When anyone thinks about Oklahoma, their brain immediately conjures images of busy cities and small towns where everyone wears boots, drives trucks, and lives on postcard-wordy farms with rolling grasslands. While this is true in some areas of the state, it is a common misconception that causes people to overlook the vast and diverse beauty of the Sooner State.
Although Oklahoma boasts lush grasslands, as many people assume, the grasslands are not the only thing the state has to offer. From high plains to arid landscapes, Oklahoma has different regions with unique and various ecological importance.
Oklahoma might be known for its cowboy culture and Native American heritage history, but it is also popularly known for its beautiful natural attractions encouraging tourist activities. However, families looking to explore Oklahoma attractions like the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum during the holidays are not the only people you find exploring the vast land area of the state (Oklahoma is the 20th-largest state in the United States of America). In Oklahoma, it is also common to find overlanders and off-roaders looking to explore the different landscapes, terrains, and wildlife in the state.
When it comes to overlanding in Oklahoma, you can never run out of trails to explore. This is unsurprising as the state measures about 70,000 square miles. Overlanding is seeing the world on wheels, and Oklahoma caters to this by offering several ecoregions with unique climates and terrains, including pine-covered mountains and rocky mountain foothills.
While Oklahoma is an overlanding-friendly state, interested overland adventurers must become familiar with the trails in the state. This essential part of the preparation for overlanding Oklahoma not only ensures your safety as an overlander but also the safety of others.
1. Little Sahara OHV Trail
If you imagine a red stretch of land that glistens when the sun comes out when you hear “Little Sahara OHV Trail”, you are not wrong.
Little Sahara State Park, also popularly known as Waynoka Dunes, is located in Woods County, Oklahoma. Named for its semblance to the famous Sahara Desert, this natural and picturesque park is made from remnants of history and, of course, decades of terrace deposits. Although Little Sahara State Park stretches on dusty upon dusty acres, the Little Sahara OHV Trail is only a tiny part of the Park.
Little Sahara OHV Trail is a 14-mile loop trail nestled near Waynoka. It is sandy, meaning you should visit the trail with a 4WD vehicle sporting solid tires.
Little Sahara OHV Trail is considered a mildly challenging trail, making it the perfect trip for solo overlanders and family groups.
Although the trail takes about 6 to 7 hours to complete and is relatively short for the average overlander, Little Sahara OHV Trail is worth every brief second of your trip.
While there, you can also explore every part of the park, even the sand dunes that appear to be the main attraction for many tourists.
Little Sahara State Park is open year-round and can be navigated by all vehicles, including SUVs, ATVs, and dirt bikes.
2. Beer Drinker
No, this trail isn't set aside as a major attraction for pub businesses.
One thing about Beer Drinker is it is a concise trail. Measuring only 1.5 miles, it does not offer the long journey many overlander's hope for. However, it makes an incredible addition to any overlander’s list of trails to visit. In other words, Beer Drinker offers one adventure for the road, a fantastic experience for much longer routes.
Beer Drinker is a rocky trail that makes a fine challenge for any overlander interested in testing their road capability. It's a great way to get the adrenaline pumping without entering extremely rugged terrains.
Beer Drinker measures 1.5 miles with an elevation of 252 feet. It is a rocky dirt trail flanked by sparsely arranged trees and shrubs that break through the rocky surfaces. It is close enough to the main road that you can quickly detour and pursue other attractions. Beer Drinker is a short but excellent Overlanding trail in Oklahoma.
3. Wichita Mountains Scenic Byway
If you are more interested in a peaceful and almost ethereal drive in Oklahoma, Wichita Mountains Scenic Byway is one of the best trails and routes to visit. If you do decide to travel down this road, remember to bring your camera. This awe-inspiring and enthralling scenic road will have you so fascinated that you will wish to have pictures.
Wichita Mountains Scenic Byway has everything from low-grass roads to rocky lowlands. However, its uniquely beautiful prints are all this scenic byway has to offer.
Wichita Mountains Scenic Byway offers an exquisite mixture of a rich history embedded in historic communities. The scene you enjoy during the drive depends on the time of year you visit. That's right, the wildlife and flora change with the seasons. With a chance to experience the sheer beauty of nature in its different forms, you will never run out of the pleasant scenery you leave on your overland trip on Wichita Mountains Scenic Byway.
Since Wichita Mountains Scenic Byway passes through lakes, mountains, and other wide ranges of terrain, this trail offers an array of recreational activities you can enjoy as you go overlapping. Wichita Mountains Scenic Byway also passes through southwest Oklahoma's historic towns like Medicine Park, Meers, and Apache, meaning you can visit these towns and experience their prehistoric culture if you fancy.
4. Route 66
Route 66 is a historical path that passes through Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and some other small communities in Oklahoma. It runs west to the northeast in the state, with the west end being US-66 at the Texas state line and the east end being US-66 at the Kansas state line.
U.S. Route 66, as it is so fondly called by many, is also popularly known as the Will Rogers Highway. It was named after an Oklahoma native named Will Rogers.
Route 66 passes through Commerce, Miami, Alton, Chelsea, Claremore, Tulsa, Stroud, Chandler, and Arcadia to Oklahoma City. From Oklahoma City, it continues to Yukon, El Reno, Hydro, Clinton, and Elk City, before being cut off at Texola. It measures a total of 400 miles.
If you crave a long, scenic, and easy drive, Route 66 is your best shot at getting exactly what you need. Traversing across multiple cities, Route 66 offers some of the best scenic drives in the state.
Route 66, like many other trails in Oklahoma, offers exciting activities to keep you busy during your journey. Just because the long stretch of road is not bordered by dense forests or covered in rocks does not mean it deprives travelers of the connection to nature that they crave on overlanding trips. With its many environment and diverse city, U.S. Route 66 is a dream come true for any overlander.
5. Cherokee Hills Byway
Cherokee Hills Byway is another on-road overlanding trip route you can enjoy in Oklahoma. Will you be willing to travel this gorgeous byway? Here is a detailed map of the area.
Cherokee Hills Byway is cradled in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains. It offers a breathtaking view of Oklahoma’s one-of-a-kind natural and cultural beauty. Even if you are not fully aware of the area’s Cherokee culture, the historic remnants of the Cherokee heritage are in the architecture, Museum, and the area’s daily operation. Essentially, Cherokee Hills Byway is the perfect way to display Oklahoma’s diversity.
The byway is open every season, which means you will be liable to witness all the color shifts and landscape changes that happen year-round.
Cherokee Hills Byway passes beside Lake Tenkiller’s shores, Cookson Hills, and the lush green forests of the lower Ozark Mountain range.
6. Wichita Mountains OAT Trail
Also known as Wichita Mountains Oklahoma Adventure Trail, Wichita Mountains OAT Trail is a 95-kilometer trail located on the north side of the historic Wichita Mountains. It is cradled between Granite and Medicine Park and passes through several old ranches in the state the further you travel.
Wichita Mountains Oklahoma Adventure Trail is undoubtedly one of the best and most accessible trails in Oklahoma. With over 90 percent of the trail rid of ruts, runoffs, potholes, and many obstacles that plague various nomadic trails in the state, overlanders find it easier to travel with any pickup or SUV, regardless if it is a 2WD or 4WD vehicle.
Wichita Mountains OAT Trail has an elevation of about 543 feet, which means the trail can be incredibly steeped in some areas. However, with careful maneuvering, you should have no problem navigating the area.
Depending on the season of the year you make your trip, you get to experience different scenes of the area. You might even get to see cattle ranging or migrating from one area to the other. Regardless, Wichita Mountains OAT Trail always offers interesting scenes to admire and unforgettable memories.
7. Bee Creek And Dyer Mountain Trail
Bee Creek and Dyer Mountain Trail are located in the Ouachita National Forest near Broken Bow. It is a 22-kilometer-long point-to-point multi-use trail that welcomes curious overlanders and their dogs (as long as they remain on a leash).
Bee Creek and Dyer Mountain Trail is a relatively easy, moderately difficult trail that can be completed with any dedicated 4x4 WD. Although the trail can be tricky for the first few kilometers, the mud puddles and rocky obstacles even out and contribute to the fun nomadic experience that many overlanders crave.
The best thing about traveling on Bee Creek and Dyer Mountain Trail is the peace and tranquility you enjoy on your overlanding. You are less likely to meet many trail users, even during peak season. This way. You can enjoy a seemingly personal and personalized overlanding experience.
Over all, traveling on Bee Creek and Dyer Mountain Trail is a great way to enjoy a chill overlanding experience and a spectacular view.
8. Gruber Off-road Vehicle County Park
Also called the Gruber ORV trail, the Gruber Off-road Vehicle County Park is located near Fort Gibson in Oklahoma. It might not be one of the longest trails in the state, but it still offers one of the most memorable drives you will experience.
Gruber Off-Road Vehicle County Park is a 15-kilometer loop trail that is considered to be moderately challenging. Although off-road adventurers often use it, it is also open to hikers and, of course, adventurous overlanders.
The area is dotted with lightly-wooded sections and riddled with rocky parts that contribute to the challenge on the trails. There are some steep hill climbs, tight-wound woody areas, and some creek crossings, but these can easily be maneuvered with careful driving.
This trail is open year-round and permitted to dirt bikes, SUVs & Jeeps, UTVs, and ATVs. Although you will need to buy a permit before using the trail, every dollar spent is worth the breathtaking view and experience you will enjoy.
9. The Harold F. Miller Auto Tour Route
The Harold F. Miller Auto Tour Route Is located near Amorita. It is an out-and-back trail that is relatively easy to navigate and offers one of the shortest trips you will enjoy in Oklahoma.
The Harold F. Miller Auto Tour Route is a multi-use trail that is not only perfect as an overlanding route but is also an excellent location for off-road driving, road trips, and bird-watching. However, it is highly unlikely that you will come across more than a handful of people when you use the trail.
The trail is only 8 kilometers long and nestled in The Salt Plains National Wildlife refuge. It begins near the Wildlife Refuge headquarters before connecting to State Highway 11. The Harold F. Miller Auto Tour Route offers an expansive view of the area, including the colorful flora, marshes, and wildlife. The route is best traveled from south to north.
Although The Harold F. Miller Auto Tour Route is relatively easy to navigate, it can get trickier after it rains. Regardless, this trail offers a unique yet painfully short overlanding experience that you will wish never to come to an end.
10. Tsalagi Trail East
Tsalagi Trail East is an 88-kilometer-long route with an elevation of about 400 feet. It offers a peaceful and scenic drive that can be enjoyed as solo travel or even as a group overlanding trip.
Tsalagi Trail East can be completed using any road-legal vehicle, whether it is a 2WD or 4WD. The trail is an easy trip that is accessible year-round and in all weather. However, it is essential to drive carefully when it rains, or snows (in all inclement weather) as the roads can quickly get flooded, usually leading to them being closed down.
Regardless, Tsalagi can be enjoyed in all seasons, allowing overlanders to enjoy a different scene for every season.
Ready, Set, Explore
Overlanding is about seeing the world on wheels, and there is no better place to begin than Oklahoma! With various sceneries ranging from gorgeous plains to breathtaking mountains, you can never run out of interesting places to visit and things to see in Oklahoma.
Are you planning to continue exploring the South Central region of the United States? Check out the best overland routes and trails in Texas!