On a remarkably nice day in February, we decided we were in need of an adventure and set off toward Turner Falls. I don’t know about you, but by the time February rolls around, we’re sick of dreary days and jump at the chance to take full advantage of the nice ones.
We live near Oklahoma City which allows us to easily get to many areas of the state for a day trip. And with 35 state parks (one of which just down the road from our house) we have plenty of chances to get out and enjoy nature.
We set off for Davis mid-morning, arriving just in time for an early lunch at a tried and true Oklahoma staple – Boomerang Diner. After burgers and a basket of fried mushrooms and Pickle-O’s (you’ve got to get them!), it was time to head to the park.
Turner Falls has been on our list of places to visit for a while. I heard through the grapevine that it can get very cramped during the summer months (though they do limit the number of visitors) so we were excited to have great weather allowing us to go in February.
It was an added bonus to visit during the “Winter Rate”period! Our family of four was able to spend the day at the park for less than $25.
We started by parking near the falls with the intention of walking straight there. Contrary to normal, I did very little research and was surprised to find castles on our walk in!
The castle was built during the great depression by a professor at the University of Oklahoma. It was first used as his summer home. It surprised us how much cooler it was inside the tunnels than outside. It’s obvious why he would have stayed there during the hot Oklahoma summers!
After trailing behind our kids running all over the castle, we headed on to the falls. Be prepared to walk many flights of stairs if you venture up to the castle.
The walk from the parking area to the falls is short, flat, and paved along a creek. If it’s warm enough you can swim in the creek as well. The day was warm enough to put our feet in, but the water was shockingly cold!
The falls themselves were lovely. We took a minute to enjoy them and take a few photos.
During the summer, the pool at the bottom of the falls is open for swimming. Keep in mind, all children under the age of 12 are required to wear a life jacket to enter the water, so come prepared!
Hiking Near the Falls
There is an easy trail that starts right past the falls and goes along a small creek. This trail was perfect for our family. It leads to some large boulders which appeared to be where the creek begins. And if you have a kid who is called to the water, you can be sure they’ll fall in a time or two (or eight in our case)!
Caves & Beyond Turner Falls
After hiking, we hopped back in the car to head to the upper falls area and check out the caves.
We drove on to the far end of the park where longer trails wrap around. We didn’t have energy this day for a long hike, but if we come back to camp, we plan to hike one of these.
Smokin’ Joe’s Rib Ranch
After exploring the park all day, we decided on dinner at an Oklahoma legend, Smokin’ Joe’s Rib Ranch. We arrived at 4:30 pm and the line was already out the door! It moved fairly quickly and we were at the front in about 30 minutes.
Let me tell you, as an Oklahoman, we’ve had our share of BBQ. And this was dang good! Between the four of us, we were able to sample most meats and a fair number of sides. You’ve got to get the black-eyed peas!
We finished our meal with their famous dessert, Strawberries on a Cloud. It was so good, we devoured it before we could take a picture, but I highly recommend it.
As I was writing this post, I asked the kids what their favorite parts of the day were.
Putting my feet in the water and watching the guys on the zip line.Wilder, age 5
I liked the castles because they were a little creepy.Lydia, age 12
As for myself, I loved the perfect weather and watching my kids leap over the creek. It was a perfect day, and we’ll definitely be back!