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A SAFE bet

A BRIGHT SUMMER IN BROKEN BOW, OKLAHOMA

BY CHRISTINA GARICA

Sightings can’t be planned, but Bigfoot roams near Broken Bow. The Southeastern part of Oklahoma seems to be a magnet, drawing the illusive creature to the forests and springs. Gift shops sell the t-shirts. Local news reports the sightings. In 2021, an Oklahoma state representative even filed a bill to create an official Bigfoot hunting season. But more than a nexus of living lore and centuries-old legend, Broken Bow is a getaway for families chasing outdoor fun.

It’s come a long way. In 1911 two Nebraska loggers named the town after their own home and started processing trees. Before that, the Broken Bow Chamber of Commerce says Choctaw people lived in villages there and called the area Con-Chito. Today a part of the Choctaw Nation, the area is a gateway to a beautiful wilderness that includes Beavers Bend State Park at the base of the Kiamichi mountains.

In those gentle rolling foothills, Broken Bow is the entrance to a well-loved woodland hideout. It’s a retreat with naturally secluded digs and a greenwood playground for all ages. Just three hours north of Dallas, the small town saw a surge in home buying and building in the last two to three years, which continues today as Broken Bow grows in popularity.

BEAVERS BEND STATE PARK

At Beavers Bend State Park, 180 miles of pine forested shoreline surround Broken Bow Lake and Mountain Fork River. Visitors can jump into canoes and kayaks, available for rent inside the park, for a two-and-a- half-hour float. They can also dive or go boating. The park keeps trout plentiful in crystal-clear streams for fishing year-round too. Fishing guides are often hired outside the park and brought in by those eager to learn. Hikers venture out on a dozen hiking and nature trails of varying difficulty for the sprightly and the sluggish alike.

Just a few miles up the highway, you can rent boats, slips, and jet skis at Beavers Bend Marina or an ATV at Bandits. For golfers, the 18-hole Cedar Creek GolfCourse books out weekend tee times online up to a week in advance or a month in advance by phone. Walk-up times are available on weekdays. Horseback riding is popular, as is ziplining, each offered by multiple area outfitters.

FOOD AND DINING

Hungry travelers find a lot to feast on in Hochatown, a resort area just 12 minutes north of Broken Bow by car. Everybody likes pizza, but they must put something in the water at Grateful Head Pizza Oven & Taproom. The praise they receive hints at local gem status. “You have to stop at Grateful Head when you arrive and when you leave,” said one yearly visitor, echoing many a Broken Bow adventurer to go on record about the parlor. Grateful Head is located in an old school house and serves what many say are must-try, delectable pies.

Visitors also give the local wine tasting room Girls Gone Wine another big helping of applause. Winners in a sort of David and Goliath triumph against an infamous video franchise, the GGW vintner’s got to keep their name despite opposition from the franchise’s millionaire owner. Girls Gone Wine ferments its own fruity wines and offers free wine tastings at its dog-friendly boutique.

At The Eat Out, lucky guests park their fannies in barside rope swings or chairs on the cozy outdoor patio. The restaurant offers a “chef-driven menu” focused on creativity (think peanut butter on your patty) and traditional burgers. Upscale dining at Abednigos has become another top recommendation in the area, among many other dining options.

LODGING

Chalets offer a wide array of “luxury” lodging and simple abodes. One three-story cabin styled as the “Slideaway Hideaway” in Hochatown boasts multiple hot tubs and indoor slides, including one massive twisting tube from the third to the first floor. On the opposite end of the spectrum, quaint cottages with the bare necessities pepper the landscape with rustic charm. Nearby campsites, RVs, and lodges round out accommodation options. Beavers Bend State Park itself offers advance booking (up to 11 months early) for 60 cabins, over 375 camping sites, and a 40-room lodge.

Planning a getaway that pleases everyone in your group can be a bit of a gamble, but Broken Bow is a safe bet for the whole family. Just watch out for Bigfoot.

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