Natural Falls State Park

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Natural Falls State Park
A photo of the Natural Falls
Natural Falls
A map of Oklahoma showing the location of Natural Falls State Park
A map of Oklahoma showing the location of Natural Falls State Park
LocationDelaware County, Oklahoma, United States
Nearest cityWest Siloam Springs, OK
Coordinates36°10′25″N 94°40′01″W / 36.173611°N 94.666944°W / 36.173611; -94.666944Coordinates: 36°10′25″N 94°40′01″W / 36.173611°N 94.666944°W / 36.173611; -94.666944
Area120 acres (49 ha)
Governing bodyOklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department
www.travelok.com/listings/view.profile/id.5293

Natural Falls State Park is a 120 acres (0.49 km2) state-owned park in the Ozarks, in Delaware County, Oklahoma. It lies along U.S. Highway 412, near the Arkansas-Oklahoma state line.[a] The property was privately-owned and known as Dripping Springs until 1990, when the state bought it. The previous owners had also used the property as an attraction and rest stop for travelers on the highway, featuring a swimming pool and gardens. The site was used in the production of the 1974 film "Where the Red Fern Grows".[2]

Features[edit]

Located in northeast Oklahoma in the scenic Ozark Highlands region, Natural Falls State Park features a 77-foot (23 m) waterfall cascading through rock formations and creating a hidden, serene atmosphere at the bottom of a narrow V-shaped valley. An observation platform with a nearby picnic pavilion overlooks the falls and a deck with seating is available at the base of the falls. As the stream falls, enough evaporation occurs to drop the bulk liquid temperature about ten degrees (Fahrenheit) by the time it reaches the bottom. This maintains a cool, moist environment that is favorable to the growth of many types of flora in the valley. A graduate student from Oklahoma State University (OSU) performed a plant study at the site about the time it was purchased by the state, and counted over 18 varieties of ferns alone. Since preserving the plant life is a priority for park management,swimming has been prohibited in the catchment ever since.[3]

Picnic tables and grills can be found throughout the park. Campsites, including 44 RV sites and 27 tent sites, and a comfort station with showers are also on site.

The park offers yurts for a rather unique overnighting experience, now called glamping. [b] At Natural Falls State Park, each yurt is a circular tent that sits above ground on a wooden deck. There are different sizes, accommodating from two to eight people. Each is equipped with beds, refrigerator, coffee maker, microwave, skylights, and even air-conditioning.[2] According to Tracey Robertson, park manager, the park installed five yurts which can be rented by park visitors.[3]

The Red Fern Reunion Center is available for group functions. Other amenities include a 3.5 miles (5.6 km) long hiking and nature trail, picnic shelter, volleyball, horseshoes, basketball court, catch and release fishing, playgrounds, and formal garden area. Pets are allowed on a leash only.

The park affords an opportunity to observe a variety of plant and animal life. Hikers will find a dense forest of maples, chinquapin, and white oaks, while plants such as flowering dogwood, sassafras, coralberry, spicebush, redbud, and pawpaw blanket the cool forest floor. The waterfall creates a moist environment where ferns, mosses, and liverworts thrive.

It includes a waterfall which is 77 ft (23 m) tall. This is one of the two tallest known waterfalls in the state, matching Turner Falls in the Arbuckle Mountains.[4][5] The falls are known to local residents as Dripping Springs Falls, but the State renamed the park as Natural Falls to distinguish it from Dripping Springs State Park, now known as Dripping Springs Park, and other sites in Oklahoma with similar names.[6][7] The park can pump water from the pool below the falls back to the top of the falls, to insure that the waterfall is active all year long.

Accessibility[edit]

Most visitors arrive by private auto, since there is no public transportation in the area. The park is located on U.S. Highway 412. A parking lot is about 150 feet (46 m) from the viewing platform at the head of the falls. The route complies with requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.[3]

Proposed park closure in 2018[edit]

In March 2017, the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation published a list of 16 state parks that could be closed to help offset a reduction in its budget for 2018. Natural Falls State Park was on this list. The list represented approximately one-half of the parks remaining after the department closed seven parks in 2011.[8] However, the park remains open, with just a slight increase in usage fees after September 9, 2019.[9][c]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The nearest town in Oklahoma is West Siloam Springs, which is 6 miles (9.7 km) east of the park.[1]
  2. ^ Glamping is a portmanteau of glamour and camping. Although the word was added to the British vocabulary in 2005, it first appeared in the Oxford English Dictionary in 2019. It is a style of camping employed by wealthy travelers as far back as the 16th Century in Scotland. According to Wikipedia, the earliest example of its use in Western Europe was at a summit meeting between the kings of France and England in 1520.
  3. ^ As of mid September 2019, the park is apparently still open under state ownership. There has been no indication in the media that either closure or transfer of ownership is imminent.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Natural Falls State Park Map." Eyes on Texas & Oklahoma. Accessed September 21, 2019.
  2. ^ a b Lalli, Dino. "Discover Oklahoma: Natural Falls State Park even has yurts, too!." The Oklahoman. July 22, 2019. Accessed September 20, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c Crawford, Grant C. "Hidden Gems: Waterfall of 77 feet highlights state park." Talequah Daily Press. June 28, 2018. Accessed September 21, 2019.
  4. ^ "Turner Falls". Turner Falls Park. Archived from the original on February 11, 2009.
  5. ^ Wolftraveler (January 5, 2009). "Oklahoma Waterfall Study underway". Retrieved February 23, 2009. One [possibly taller waterfall] is said to be well over 100ft in height.[dead link]
  6. ^ "Natural Falls State Park". ExploreSouthernHistory.com. Archived from the original on 2018-04-05. Retrieved 2018-12-02.
  7. ^ "Natural Falls State Park". Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department. Retrieved January 6, 2013.
  8. ^ Fultenberg, Lorne (March 13, 2017). "Half of Oklahoma state parks could close with budget cuts". KFOR News. Retrieved November 1, 2017.[dead link]
  9. ^ "Natural Falls State Park". Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department. Retrieved September 26, 2019.

See also[edit]