Medicine Park, Oklahoma
We travel around the country in an RV for much of the year. But one of our favorite destinations is just hours from our home in southwestern Oklahoma--the cobblestone village of Medicine Park.
Many state residents don't even know about this hidden treasure, nestled in the foothills of the Wichita Mountains (yes, there are mountains in Oklahoma!). Founded in 1908 by one J. Elmer Thomas, who later became a state senator, Medicine Park was the state's first planned resort and the gateway to the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge.
The village is centered on Medicine Creek, so-named because Native Americans believed its waters held healing powers. The community looks like something out of a storybook, thanks to its quaint architecture.
You see, most of its early-day buildings are made of round, reddish granite cobblestones that are native to the Wichita Mountains area. You'll see these cannonball-sized cobblestones everywhere, from houses, cottages and business buildings to fences and retaining walls--even in some of the streets.
The resort was popular among the rich, famous and notorious--celebrity visitors included Teddy Roosevelt (who created the wildlife refuge), Will Rogers and infamous bank robber Pretty Boy Floyd. But its fortunes dimmed in the 1930s and '40s, and the resort was incorporated as a town in 1969.
Today, this artisan community of 400 or so year-round residents is slowly growing again, and is a great place to swim, boat, fish, hike, bike, browse and just generally relax. Anytime we host out-of-town visitors, we take them to Medicine Park. It's one of Oklahoma's best-kept secrets--and a surefire cure for your travel blahs!
Medicine Park is on State Highway 49, just west of State Highway 58 and on the eastern edge of the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge. It's roughly 15 miles northwest of Lawton, located where U.S. Highway 62 meets I-44 in southwestern Oklahoma. For details, call the Medicine Park Town Hall at 1-580/529-2825.
To learn more about the wildlife refuge, call 1-580/429-3222. Camping fees are $6 a night for tent sites and $12 for partial hookups; a dump station is available.
More to See...The Museum of the Great Plains is in Lawton (601 NW Ferris Ave.; 1-580/581-3460). It's open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sunday. Admission costs $5 for anyone age 12 and older and $2.50 for children ages 7-11.