If you head east out of Altus for about two and half hours, you will eventually run into the Ardmore/Davis area of south central Oklahoma. Here you will find Turner Falls State Park, a beautiful natural area worth a day trip of discovery.
Turner Falls is located just south of a teeny tiny little town called Davis.
*Pro tip: At the Davis turnoff that will lead you to Turner Falls, PLEASE, do not miss a chance to have one of those fresh out of the oven, warm and gooey, Arbuckle Mountain fried pies! You can't miss 'em and once you've tried one you won't want to miss 'em ever again!
Turner Falls is located inside the Arbuckle Mountains. They were discovered in the 1878 and named after the man who discovered them, Mazeppa Thomas Turner. Don't you wonder where he got a first name like that!
Anywho, the falls have been used recreationally since about the time Mazeppa found them. The actual waterfall is located inside Turner Park, which is operated by the city of Davis.
Note: to access the park we had to pay $12 per person and you are also charged by the size of your car if you are camping.
Turner Falls is 77 foot tall and is actually the tallest waterfall in Oklahoma. Swimming is permitted all around the falls but not up under it, as you can see the "no swimming" buoys in the picture. It's funny but there were actually lots of swimmers, I just managed to not get them in the photograph.
Once you've had your fill of swimming you can dry off by taking a modest hike up the mountainside. Here we found lots of beautiful green trees and eventually, we ran into a cave!
Tyler and I found a trail that led us up the side of a mountain and into a cave of some sort. Getting up in the cave was a tad difficult with only half a rope hanging out of the side, but it was definitely doable with two people.
We also heard that there was a castle on the property from 1930. This indeed turned out to be true as we hiked through it. The castle was actually built for Ellsworth Collins, a former dean at the University of Oklahoma. Some may be dissapointed to learn that the castle has also fallen victim of graffiti, however I thought the artwork gave spunk to an otherwise dilapidated structure.
On the front side of the park we found both a diving board and a sick waterslide that led straight into the swimming area! This was probably the coolest part of the park. Tyler and I felt like little kids again as we took turns going down the slide and jumping off the diving board.
From up the hill you can dry off in the sun and look down on the park. This was a beautiful view!
For a two and a half hour drive from Altus, the change of scenery is definitely worth it. There's lots to do at Turner Falls -- swimming, hiking, castles and camping! I suggest getting your crew together for a weekend trip.