The Perfect Fall Road Trip in Oklahoma!
The Talimena National Scenic Byway is well-known for its stunning fall foliage, so make a weekend trip out of your fall drive! Not only is this drive wonderfully scenic with its golden valleys and stunning vistas, but it also passes through some of the state’s most historic towns. From classic diners to sprawling state parks, get ready to embark on the perfect fall road trip in Oklahoma.
Stop here for breakfast. They open at 5:30 a.m., so you can get an early start. It’s locally owned and operated and has the best breakfast menu in town. There aren’t many places along the trail to eat or buy drinks. Pack your cooler with drinks and snacks to dine al fresco at one of the picnic areas.
The start of the designated route actually begins about seven miles northeast of Talihina, at the junction of U.S. 271 and Okla. 1. There is a visitor information station here. About 0.3 miles past this station, stop at Choctaw Vista. Here, you can see the dark blue hills and valleys that were part of the route that the Choctaw took out of Mississippi as they made their way west. Along this part of the route, there are a number of vistas, to catch some gorgeous landscape.
This site is a great spot to stop for a mid-morning break. Restrooms are available here, as are picnic tables. If you like to hike, you may want to take some time to enjoy nature and explore the area. At the very least, make sure to see the old rock wall and entrance gate as well as the spring structure built by enrollees from the civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s.
If you can spare the time, take Highway 270 north to Heavener. The drive is beautiful, but you want to see the Heavener Runestone, which is a 19th century artifact made by a Scandinavian immigrant. Along the way, stop at the Southern Belle Restaurant in Heavener where you’ll find the best fried chicken in Oklahoma.
On the way back, stop by Talking Trees Campground. Fishing does not require a license here, because the lake is privately owned. There are 700 miles of trails. If you want to spend the night here and extend your trip, reserve one of their cabins!
Drive to the midway point of the trail and stop at the Robert S. Kerr Memorial Arboretum, Nature Center and Botanical Area. You’ll want to plan to spend some time here. There are three, interpretative trails, two of which are easy to walk even for people with physical limitations. The botanical area showcases the trees, plants and flowers which inhabit the mountains. There are restrooms here, too.
7. Pioneer Cemetery, Mena, AR
Keep going, and continue to stop at the vistas along the way to see different landscapes. You’ll want to make sure to stop at Pioneer Cemetery in Mena, Arkansas. Although there are only 23 graves, the area has years of history. Settlers came here as early as 1860. The soil is rich, the water was clean and readily available.
Queen Wilhelmina State Park has wonderful accommodations, whether you want to camp, RV, or stay in a lodge. It was named for the Queen of Holland, because the railroad was largely financed by Dutch investors.
The trail ends in Mena, Arkansas. Although the town is small, it has many restaurants and attractions to choose from. The Mena/KCS Historic Depot & Museum is a great way to end your journey. The depot has been completely restored to be reminiscent of days gone by.