5 Reasons to Visit the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge!

Whenever I travel, I’m always on the hunt for outdoor places to visit, such as national monuments and parks. I love exploring the outdoors, especially when the weather is nice! When I moved to Oklahoma, I had no idea what sort of outdoor recreations, existed. I know, from personal experience that when you think, Oklahoma, you think: what could possibly be in Oklahoma? I’m used to living in or near big cities, where the outskirts are encompassed by mountains and a lot of vegetation. Believe it or not, Oklahoma definitely holds its own charm. If you like adventure and exploring, you’ll find plenty to do, here in the sooner state!

Today, I want to share with you one of my favorite outdoor spots, here in Oklahoma. I live in a town called Lawton, where 15-20 minutes away, sits the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. Surrounded by mountains, lakes, and wildlife, the refuge is very well managed and protected to maintain its diversity of species. My fiancé and I would take several trips over there every weekend and we always found something new to explore! If you’re ever in the Lawton area, here are 5 reasons why I think visiting the wildlife refuge is totally worth it:

Gorgeous sunsets

I absolutely love, love the sunsets here in Oklahoma. Because it’s so flat here, you can see the entire sky light up with the most vibrant colors of pink, orange, yellow, red, and purple. I’ve never been so in love with sunsets until I moved to Oklahoma. My fiancé and I took a ride up to Mount Scott to catch the sunset, one evening. It was so beautiful, as the fading sun beams reflected off the crystal blue lakes. To catch the sunset or sunrise, it depends on what time of season it is. I recommend arriving to the spot at least 10-15 minutes before the sun begins to set because even then, you can see little bits of faded pink and orange, in the distance.

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Wildlife

Whether you’re driving up the mountain or making your way throughout the refuge, you’re bound to see some form of wildlife. The refuge is home to an array of species, including, birds, longhorn, buffalo, prairie dogs, fish, and much much more! Throughout my visits to the refuge, I’ve seen many longhorn, buffalo, and prairie dogs. I don’t fish, but I’ve seen many people fishing on the lakes, so there are plenty of spots to do so, if you are into fishing!

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Mount Scott

Mount Scott is one of my favorite places to go. Seeing as how I love mountains, I definitely find happiness here. Rising at a height of 2,464 feet, visitors can reach the summit via, bicycle, car, or hiking. Because there isn’t a formal trail to hike up, I prefer driving. Along the way, there are several spots where visitors can park and take photos at. I do, however, see many people biking or bicycling their way up, so it’s totally do-able! The mountain overlooks parts of Lawton, Medicine Park (a town right outside of the refuge), Lake Elmer Thomas, and many wind turbines. Once you reach the summit, you are free to climb some of the rocks around the top. Whenever I go, I’ll pick a rock, sit on it, and gaze out into the distance. When there is no one around, it can be very tranquil. There is no admission to go up the mountain.

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The Holy City

The Holy City is located about 10-15 minutes from Mount Scott, but still located within the wildlife refuge. It’s unique architecture is what attracts many visitors. Every year, the holy city puts on an Easter passion play, where many locals and visitors, gather to watch. Other attractions include, a chapel (where many people have chosen to get married at), a memorial for the Oklahoma City bombing victims, and a walkway to honor veterans. Admission is free, the site offers guided tours, and is open from 8 am to 5 pm. Be sure to check out their gift shop, too!

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Lakes

Coming from the east coast, I really miss the ocean. Since there isn’t an ocean, here in Oklahoma, I’m at least thankful that there are lakes. Lake Elmer Thomas is one of my favorites. On certain parts of the lake, you can go out camping or boating. Last summer, my fiancé and I spent an ample amount of time on our friend’s boat. I especially love the lake when the sun is setting behind it, particularly because it reminds me to the sunsets by the ocean, back home. It’s a great spot to bring your families or dogs. I know my miniature schnauzer loves it here! It’s also a great spot to take photos… my fiancé and I had our engagement photos taken, here by the lake, this past summer! I definitely recommend visiting the lake during the spring and summer time.

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For more information about the wildlife refugee, click the link, below, to be directed to their website.

http://www.fws.gov/refuge/Wichita_Mountains/