- ABOUT US
The Motorcycle Diaries
Cruising along U.S. Highway 412 near Fairview, riders may think they’ve taken a wrong turn and ended up in a western movie. The towering red ochre mesas that are the Gloss Mountains give this stretch of highway in northwestern Oklahoma something of a southwestern feel.
Photo by TOM LUKER
Choose your chopper: Oklahoma offers thousands of miles of prime pavement and scenery ripe for riding.
By Dyrinda Tyson
Photography by Tom Luker
Published May/June 2012
The Natural Wonders Ride - 123 miles - Roman Nose State Park to Boiling Springs State Park
The unusual opportunity to camp in a teepee is the most colorful of Roman Nose State Park’s many overnight offerings.
Named for the Cheyenne chief who once called this rugged land home, Roman Nose offers campsites, cabins, and a rustic-meets-modern lodge originally built in 1956. The lodge, which had an extensive face lift in 2010, maintains its retro vibe but now also offers a place to dock an iPod.
Along this route, prairie gives way to rugged landscape, and rugged landscape erupts into summits that seem to glint in the sun. They’re the Gloss Mountains (sometimes called the Glass Mountains), whose selenite deposits mimic glass.
Prairie and mountains? This journey is all about contrasts.
“Highway 412 is barren, and there’s a lot of red dirt,” says Russell Wright, a motorcyclist who grew up in Enid and now lives in Coalgate, “but then you can see the Gloss Mountains from a ways off.”
Every spring, the annual Okeene Rattlesnake Hunt peels bikers off State Highway 51A in Southard, sending them east along State Highway 51 to the small Blaine County community. Volunteers spend weeks combing the nearby hills for rattlers to set loose in the motorcycle-friendly event that even includes a poker run.
Next, the route shoots through the Gloss Mountains and swings in the direction of Freedom, which bills itself as “the Queen City of the Cimarron” and proudly wears its western heritage in the cedar-paneled buildings lining downtown.
Twenty-six miles from the Gloss Mountains, riders find themselves in Little Sahara State Park, whose sand dunes and ATVs make it feel more like the desert than western Oklahoma. The park boasts 1,650 acres of dunes and draws off-road enthusiasts who bring their own rides or rent them near the park.
“It’s a cool place to stop, look out on the dunes, and say, ‘Wow, those people are crazy on the four-wheelers,’” Collier says, laughing. “And I’m one of them, at least every once in a while.”
But for those seeking quieter surroundings, the gypsum-lined depths at Alabaster Caverns State Park may be worth a stop to strike out on foot for a little spelunking.
“If you want to see a cave, that’s the best one in Oklahoma,” says Wright.
The ride winds up at Boiling Springs State Park, an oasis whose once-churning waters inspired its name. The “boiling” is actually water gurgling through the sand at the bottom of the springs. A revamped spring box near the park office showcases a spring that still produces a hundred gallons a minute.
Boiling Springs is well suited for large groups, with two campgrounds that feature bunkhouses and a community center. Other campsites and cabins can accommodate smaller groups.
The roads that lace this route together make for a mellow, relaxing ride: pavement in good repair, relatively light traffic, and a cruising speed that allows riders to take in the unique beauty of western Oklahoma.
NEXT: Magical History Tour >>>
Back | 1 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | Next Page
The Ride: From Roman Nose State Park, take State Highway 8A through the park to State Highway 51A north to Orienta. (Cut east on State Highway 51 north of Southard if you’re going to Okeene.) Then travel west on U.S. Highway 412 to go through Gloss Mountains State Park. Eighteen miles west of the park, pick up U.S. 281 and travel north through Little Sahara State Park near Waynoka. Continue north through Waynoka (the road becomes State Highway 14 north of town) to East County Road 0190. Take that road west to State Highway 50 and ride through Freedom, then south to Alabaster Caverns State Park. Continue on Highway 50 to State Highway 50B and then west to Boiling Springs State Park.