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Turner Falls isn’t just a beautiful waterfall in the heart of Oklahoma’s Arbuckle Mountains. It’s synonymous with Turner Falls Park, recreational area that’s been a popular spot for travelers since the 1860s. The park encompasses more than 1,500 acres of pools, falls, caves, and other interesting geological features along Honey Creek, and it’s covered with nature trails perfect for hiking. But unlike a state or national park focused squarely on preservation, Turner Falls Park has been developed for family-friendly entertainment and adventure. The focal point is its 77-foot waterfall — one of the state’s tallest — which cascades into a beautifully clear natural swimming pool. Elsewhere, eateries, novelty shops, cabins, campsites, and picnic areas are posted throughout the park, inviting visitors to spend the day — or a night or two.
Located 6 miles south of the small city of Davis, Turner Falls is a little over an hour’s drive from Oklahoma City’s Will Rogers World Airport (OKC), and fewer than two hours north of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW). It’s also a relatively easy drive from Tulsa (about 2.5 hours), making it a popular getaway for regional tourists. Once you’re there, traversing on foot is recommended to take in the scenery, especially as the park stretches just two miles at its widest point, roughly the size of a city neighborhood. Three separate parking zones are available to visitors with tiered fees, and there’s a designated area for RV hookups.
Given its proximity to the Arbuckle Mountains, Turner Falls experiences a relatively mild, dry climate with hot summer days and cool winter nights. Summer temperatures can reach into the 90s Fahrenheit, making a dip in the park’s natural pools seem all the more inviting. Temperatures drop only slightly on summer evenings, averaging in the 70s and 80s. The spring and fall months are popular with visitors, thanks to mild daytime temperatures in the 60s and 70s, and lows in the 50s. And in winter, when Turner Falls freezes into a spectacular ice sculpture, outdoor exploration is still enjoyable, with temperatures averaging in the 40s, and warmer in the sunshine. Largely because of its pleasant year-round weather, Turner Falls Park is a naturally popular spot for seasonal vacation rentals, especially cozy cabins.
Turner Falls Park has three natural caves in the park, open to curious explorers. Formed of conglomerates, limestone, granite, shale, and sandstone, the caves are all large enough for adults to enter on foot, and at least one, Crystal Cave, is home to a large population of bats.
Built in 1931 by an Oklahoma writer and academic, this now eerily dilapidated castle is located a short walk from the falls. Made entirely of native stone that has long since succumbed to the natural environment, the ruins feature a handful of rooms and a network of narrow hallways leading to turrets that look out over the park. It’s rumored to be haunted.
Just 30 minutes northeast of Turner Falls Park is this designated natural area, where spring-fed creeks, steams, and lakes cover nearly 10,000 acres. Swimming holes and hiking trails abound, and recreation, including watersports and fishing, is permitted in designated areas.