My First Trip to Natural Falls
On Friday, January 3, I took the day off from work, just so I could go to the 77-foot Natural Falls State Park. I had been hearing about it for a long time since my move back to Oklahoma from North Carolina. This beautiful park is about one hour East of Tulsa on US Highway 412, near Colcord, OK and Siloam Springs. It is a 120-acre state-owned park in the Ozarks, in Delaware County (along the Oklahoma/Arkansas state-line), and is tied with Turner Falls as the highest waterfall in the state.
A bit of trivia that interested me: the park area was used in the production of the 1974 film
(this just happens to be my very first movie as a kid; my aunt and uncle who were very involved in my life, took me). If you haven't seen it, I hope you will!
As I parked, I noticed what seemed to be Greek columns and a pergola, which looked ancient but I'm not sure how old they were. I took a few pics and headed toward the sign that said "Dripping Springs." Prior to establishment as a state park, the Natural Falls area was called “Dripping Springs,” and the falls were called “Dripping Springs Falls."
As soon as I passed under the Dripping Springs sign, I realized I was in for a treat! In the distance, I could see someone standing on a bridge, looking out over the falls. As I looked way above her head, I saw another beautiful rust-colored bridge (I love bridges!) very high up on a cliff. I knew that's where I had to go next! The waterfalls are a bit difficult to see from on top of course, but I could see a path winding around to the right (which you can see in the picture of the person standing on the overlook) and I started off walking toward that. The trail was a steady decline down to the steps and platform area, which are right next to the falls. There are also railings to hold onto if the crossings make you nervous. At the end of that path at the base of the waterfall, there's a bench for you to sit on and watch (and listen to) the falls in awe. Even though it was Wintertime on my visit, the falls were really "full" and heavy. The park can pump water from the pool below the falls back to the top of the falls, to ensure that the waterfall is active all year long. The water throughout the park is an emerald greenish color, and I thought it was really pretty. What causes this water to be green? Maybe one of you can ask the visitor center when you go! After I left the falls area, I kept walking around and discovered more bridges. I wanted to be sure and cross them all. I kept along the ground area and headed to the next bridge I saw, which led around to more green water. Walking away from the falls in the direction I did meant I was going to approach the bridge I had seen in the beginning from the backside of the cliff. I walked up a very steep gravel road - I admit I had to stop a couple times along the way (gosh I'm out of shape!). Someone who is in better shape would do fine on this hill but I think might still experience shortness of breath. Finally I get to the "high bridge". The view from there and at several stops along the way, looking over cliffs, was stunning. There were yurts at the top as well, before I crossed over the bridge (not THAT kind of crossing over the bridge!). I wish I had asked at the visitor center how high up this bridge was. Add this to your list of questions for the visitor center since I forgot.
Natural Falls is beautiful and worth a trip over. More than four miles of trails allow visitors to explore the falls and creek (Dripping Springs Branch), as well as provide ample hiking opportunities to see the chert-rich formations exposed throughout the park. Activities other than hiking include: basketball; volleyball; disc golf; horseshoes; and catch and release fishing. The park also contains picnic tables, grills, playgrounds, and a garden. The Red Fern Reunion Center is available for group activities. The park contains RV and tent sites for camping, as well as a comfort station with showers.
The website shows the park is open 8:30-5pm 7 days per week, but you might want to give them a call to confirm: (918) 422-5802
When you go, I hope you have a great day!