A Turner Falls day trip from Dallas or Oklahoma City is a short drive of fun!
We headed north first thing on a Saturday to Oklahoma for a spontaneous Turner Falls day trip. I didn’t realize it’s only a little over an hour’s drive from my home south of the park. And, not sure why we hadn’t visited sooner because the Arbuckle Mountains are just beautiful. The park was everything we hoped it would be. We had a fun day. Scroll down to see the things you can do in the park for a day.
Turner Falls is located in the heart of Chickasaw Country and in the midst of the Arbuckle Mountains. It’s not a far drive at all from the Dallas-Fort Worth area and is a popular destination for North Texas folks to go. It’s very pretty there and the beautiful scenery is unforgettable –worth every dime for a day trip. Likewise, it’s the perfect place to go on a sunny day or even in the fall. The water temperature is cold, and it will always be cold, even in the summer months because it’s a natural swimming pool and natural pools are always cold.
Related: Our Oklahoma City Family Adventure
Things To Do On A Turner Falls Day Trip
Did you know Turner Falls Park is spread out on three levels? I did not. The last time I was there, it was on one level, and that’s it, and you could swim under the waterfall. So much has changed since I took my first son there. You can no longer swim under the waterfall, only “near” it. I’m not sure why I haven’t made this place an annual adventure. Plus, coupling it with a trip to the Chickasaw National Recreation Area would be fun too.
Turner Falls, OK, is the perfect road trip to take for the day with the whole family.
Our Drive To Turner Falls
From the time we left, my kid talked non-stop about what we were going to do when we got there – all the way there! I guess talking keeps him from getting bored. You know how kids are – they never think about what their parents want to do. I didn’t tell him, but I was quite as excited as he was to swim near the stunning waterfall. However, there are days I feel a second kid would have made my day so much better because it would be them playing together instead of him wanting to play with me the entire time. This kid can wear me out fast!. Luckily, he met a friend at the park, and I got to sit back and watch. They even got ice cream together.
Bring A Picnic Basket Full Of Food
Taking a picnic is ideal as there are plenty of shaded picnic areas to choose from with picnic tables and grills. If you don’t get there early in the morning to grab one of the shaded picnic sites, you’ll be stuck with one without shade. Just so you know, the food at the park is costly. Next time we go, I’ll bring a rolling ice chest full of food. I stopped counting the rolling ice chests I saw.
The Blue Hole
Besides playing in the water near the 77-foot waterfall, there’s another area with a slide and a diving board. It’s called the Blue Hole. The blue hole pool is where Brody spent most of his time. After meeting a friend down by the waterfall, he and his family followed us to this area. Did I mention how happy I was when Brody met a friend? Not only did these two hit it off, but they both found another boy who was there with his grandparents – so the three of them played together for the duration of our swimming time.
Pro Tip: Bring water shoes.
The Caves at Turner Falls Park
I told Brody I wasn’t going to “crawl” in that cave. Yes, he was a little disappointed, but I don’t think I would have made it out alive! Unbeknownst to us, there was another way in on the other side. However, it was just too risky for me to climb down on the rocks to go in with my bad knees. I let Brody venture off on his own to find the other cave. There are a total of three natural caves, but he only found two. I suggest if you and your family want to explore the caves, wear good shoes, and know that it is a moderate to challenging climb, especially if you’re elderly or have bad knees. If you can’t make it down to the caves, there is an area where you can stand and look down at one of the caves, and you’ll also see the water. Would you have crawled into the cave?
The rock formations that make up the castles are incredible. You can walk inside the castles, just know there are steep stairs to take to the castles.
Where To Park At Turner Falls Park
Parking is all over. On Level 1 parking permits are $20 for the day and are close to the Blue Hole swimming area. Level 2 parking permits are $10 per day and is close to all the amenities above and below and is close to the hiking trails, caves, concessions, and the Waterfall area. Level 3 is free parking, but it’s far….very far. So be sure to think about that when going. You don’t want to wear yourself out walking to all the fun. However, if I remember correctly, there is a bus that picks people up from that area (Level 3) and brings them down to both levels. But still, the lines are long.
This photo below of us is before we went exploring the caves. All happy and ready to go!! Oh, it was over 100 degrees that day, and after we got back up the stairs, we both knew it was time to get in our car with the air conditioner on full blast and go home.
Zipline Course Close By
We saw a zip line course just outside the park that we didn’t do because I didn’t know it was there, but we will do it next time. It’s called 777 Zipline. Open 7 days a week. It’s only $25 for two riders. It’s the sit-down type of zipline, so it’s not that scary if you’ve never zip-lined before.
Camping at Turner Falls
If camping is your thing, Turner Falls offers primitive campsites for tent campers, cabin rentals on Levels 1 & 2, and RV sites with utility hookups. The campsites I saw were shady, but I bet those fill up fast, but you’ll need one in the summer season. I would think fall camping would be awesome here.
One last thing …and this is a must if you like fried pies. Once you leave Turn Falls Park, turn to your left and follow the signs to Arbuckle Mountain fried pies. They are delicious and a very popular place to get them by locals as well as from visitors that knows about it.
So, when planning your Turner Falls Park day trip, be sure to do your homework. Look over the website for things to do and where to park. This will save you a lot of time and stress. Also, buy your entrance fee tickets online and reserve your parking spot because it can fill up. You’ll want a valid ticket to enter because the line just to get into the park is very long, especially in the summer. Pets are not allowed, and life jackets or some sort of flotation devices are required for all children under 12. The park is open in the winter months and only closes two days in the year.
If camping is not something you like to do, check out the Tanglewood Resort on Lake Texoma. It’s not too far from the falls.