If you’re looking for a place that will have you oohing and ahhing, then take a scenic drive through the mountainous twists and turns of the Ouachita National Forest in southeastern Oklahoma. The Talimena Scenic Byway, also known as Scenic Hwy 1, is named for the two towns it stretches through: Talihina,Ok and Mena, AR. The fall colors begin in late October, but as of November 1st, the colors were just beginning to shine in oranges, yellows and reds—giving you time to still catch autumn in its full glory. Make sure you fill up on gas before you begin the route since there are no pit stops along the way other than places to stop and have a perfect picnic.
Getting there: It is around 270 miles between Dallas and Mena AR—via the scenic byway. From Dallas, travel I-30 E for 54-miles to Commerce and take exit#101 to TX-24. Travel around 50-mile until you reach US-271 N to Talihina OK. From Talihina, take the scenic Hwy OK-1 to US-59 into Mena AR and enjoy 54-miles of stunning scenery.
Stops along the way:
Wildlife Heritage Center Museum
610 SW D Street
Antlers, OK 74523
Stop off midway for a tour around this interactive wildlife museum in a log cabin featuring artifacts and live deer.
Beavers Bend State Park
Broken Bow, OK 74728
Located in the mountainous region of southeastern Oklahoma, affectionately referred to as Oklahoma’s “Little Smokies”, the Beavers Bend area is also considered one of the best locations for viewing the spectacular fall foliage in the state. Located inside the park is the Beavers Bend Train Depot which operates an authentic 1/3 size replica of the C.P. Huntington S. P. steam engine train from 1863. The 20 minute ride travels around the park and provides chances for wildlife viewing. The park offers horseback riding, canoe rentals, fishing, two museums, playground areas, a beach, a lodge and a restaurant that overlooks the river. There are also cabins throughout the woods that are available for rent.
Queen Wilhelmina State Park
3877 Highway 88 West
Mena, AR 71953
This gorgeous state park in the Ouachita Mountains features hiking trials, canoeing, camping, wildlife and swimming during the summer. There is a beautiful lodge and restaurant on top, however, it’s closed for renovations until the summer of 2013, but you can still find snacks at the park’s concession stand.
Where to stay:
Mena Mountain Resort
2817 Hwy 71-N
This resort is a great place to relax after the drive. It offers a clubhouse, paddle boats, canoeing, fishing plus a pool and hot tub. There are 15 guest suites and a 3-bedroom cabin that come with breakfast. Dinner is also available with advanced reservations..