Hike To A Beautiful Waterfall At This South Central Destination

You may not expect a mountainous waterfall off the highways of Oklahoma, especially so close to plains and farmland, but at Turner Falls, that's exactly what you'll find. Sitting an hour and a half south of Oklahoma City, the oldest park in Oklahoma is home to a striking 77-foot waterfall with a turquoise pool below, along with natural caves, picnic areas, castle ruins, and two swimming holes for adults and children alike.

The waterfall and the park's surrounding 1,500 acres sit at the base of the Arbuckle Mountains, an ancient range that dates back 1.3 billion years. The area's unique geological features open a window to the past, similar to the Black Hills of South Dakota or the Arizona Grand Canyon. Thousands of visitors flock to Turner Falls each year for swimming, hiking, fishing, and camping. The park is open during every season, even when the waterfall freezes over, which is majestic in its own right.

Things to do at Turner Falls Park

The main attraction, of course, is a glorious waterfall that you can actually swim in, but there's plenty to do in the rest of the park, too. The waterfall forms Honey Creek down to the Blue Pool, another natural swimming hole and sandy beach area. This swimming zone is equipped with a few man-made additions alongside nature's brilliance: a diving board and a water slide.

Once you've had your fill of swimming, the area has three hiking trails. The Fire Break Trail (0.5 miles) and the Honey Creek Trail (1 mile) are easy nature walks for hikers of all levels. For more of a workout, embark on the 2-mile trail for some moderate terrain. Keep your eyes peeled for whitetail deer, turkey, and the Collings Castle. The structure was built in the 1930s from brick and stone, Old English style, to serve as a summer home for a professor at the University of Oklahoma. Today, it's emptied, but visitors can still walk through the ruins.

If you'd prefer to kick back and relax for the afternoon, consider a bit of trout fishing. On November 13, 2023, the park opened the trout fishing season, lasting through March 2024. With a $25 fishing permit reserved online ahead of time, visitors can catch up to four fish per day.

Tickets and accommodation options

To beat the crowds, get to the waterfall early and visit during the week. It's best to reserve your trip online, as spots often sell out. The tickets cost $9 to $20 for adults and $6 to $16 for children, depending on the day of the week and the season. Seniors over 55 and active military members can get in with a discount. Children under the age of 5 can get in for free. While the park is family-friendly, the rocks get slippery, and some parts of the water are deep, so all children under 13 must wear a life jacket. There are no rentals, so you'll have to bring life jackets from home or buy them at the gift shop.

If you want to max out your time at Turner Falls, several accommodation options are available. The most affordable is camping, which runs from $15 to $20 per night. If you have an RV, sites cost $25 with water and electricity hookups. A screened shelter is also available for $40 to $60 per night, including beds, a picnic table, a grill, and a fire pit. The park recently installed half a dozen bunkhouses for $100 to $125 per night. For the most cozy option, cabins cost $150 to $175 per night and include full-sized beds, bathrooms, and kitchen amenities. No matter what you decide, Turner Falls is one stunning waterfall view that's not to be missed.