Over the last year or so, hiking has been on the rise as a favorite pandemic-safe activity. And now that the weather is getting warmer, there’s no excuse not to get out into the wilderness and explore. For my Oklahoma natives—or those who live close enough for a weekend trip over—you’re going to want to add the underrated Little River to your list of must-see outdoor destinations!
Let me start by giving you a little background on how I happened upon this fantasy jungle. A couple of months ago, I published a post detailing my quiet and scenic hike up the tallest point in Oklahoma—Black Mesa. Well, after that hike I naturally thought, “Now that I’ve visited the tallest point in Oklahoma, I wonder if it’s possible to visit the lowest point?” So I did some research to see if an adventure like this was even possible.
At an elevation of 289 feet (88 meters), Little River is the lowest point in Oklahoma. Little River is a tributary of the Red River, which runs through parts of southeastern Oklahoma and southwestern Arkansas. In Oklahoma, you can visit a portion of the river through the Little River National Wildlife Refuge. Which is exactly what I did.
The wildlife refuge is located inside McCurtain County in Oklahoma. Many campers and adventurers flock to this area because there are so many activities of this nature to do here. Beavers Bend State Park and Broken Bow Lake are just a few examples. However, I didn’t get the feeling that visiting Little River was a priority here.
During my visit, I saw maybe one or two other cars driving on the road into the wildlife refuge. There wasn’t a big gate, booth, or visitor’s center marking the entrance. And for a while, I wasn’t even sure I was in the right place. I did make a trip out here back in January, so there’s a good chance most people just felt like the weather wasn’t ideal for an outdoor adventure. But I actually think it’s more likely that this destination just isn’t as publicized as it could be in order to drive more tourism to the area.
Which is why I’m here! To convince you to go!
It may seem like Little River is an “off-the-beaten-path” type of destination, but it’s really fairly accessible. You feel completely surrounded by nature until you drive five minutes out and are once again surrounded by gas stations, restaurants, and other mainstream camping facilities.
Parking isn’t plentiful in the refuge, but if you visit during shoulder seasons when outdoor tourism isn’t quite at its peak, I don’t think you’ll have a problem pulling off to the side of the road, leaving your car, and exploring. Speaking of exploring—there is so much to unpack here. There’s the river for which the area gets its name, but there’s also this whole other section that’s completely wooded. Walking around isn’t strenuous at all, so even if you’re not an avid hiker, you can easily make a trek around.
Bottom line—Little River is a beautiful escape even in terms of outdoor areas. There’s plenty of wildlife to immerse yourself in and the region is large enough that you can definitely find your own little area of solitude and reflection.
Don’t get me wrong—I loved the views Black Mesa gives you. There isn’t a lot that compares to the feeling of being so high up that you can see for miles and miles all around you. But there’s also a lot that can be seen on the ground, when yourself the chance to appreciate simple nature.
While living vicariously through my pictures may not exactly be the same as visiting Little River yourself, I really hoped I captured the vivid fall scenery well enough to inspire you to take your own visit out here! Let me know all your thoughts in the comments section down below. And now that I’ve visited both the tallest and lowest points in Oklahoma, I’m going to need some more out-of-the-box, bucket list trips for this state, so leave those in the comments section as well!
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