Famous Landforms of Oklahoma
The canyons, prairies, plateaus and mountains of Oklahoma are famous for their rare or unique characteristics. Many of them are popular visitor destinations and some serve as sanctuaries for plants and animals native to the state.
Black Mesa Plateau
The Black Mesa plateau is the state’s highest point at 4,973 feet above sea level, according to the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department. Hiking trails lead to the top of this plateau at the 1,600-acre Black Mesa State Park and Nature Preserve in Oklahoma’s panhandle. More than 20 rare plants and animal species are at this park, where America’s Rocky Mountains end and a short-grass prairie begins.
Red Rock Canyon
Canyons reach as high as 80 feet at west-central Oklahoma’s Red Rock Canyon State Park. Experienced outdoors enthusiasts can rappel down red sandstone canyon walls. Wagon wheel ruts left by pioneers en route to California can still be seen along the park’s hiking trails, according to the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department. The canyon’s walls were formed as sedimentary rock during the Permian Period more than 250 million years ago.
Wichita Mountains and Mount Scott
The peak of Mount Scott is 2,464 feet above sea level, but it’s easily accessible by car along a road that travels to its peak at Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Oklahoma. At the refuge are granite rocks believed to be more than 1 billion years old, according to the Oklahoma State Education Department.
Arbuckle Mountains and Turner Falls
Turner Falls, which drops 77 feet into a nature-made swimming pool, is a famous attraction in the ancient Arbuckle Mountains, considered one of the older mountains on earth. Rocks at the mountain range’s core date back 1.3 million years, according to Oklahoma State University. The Washita River flows through the mountains in south-central Oklahoma, creating a narrow, 350-foot deep canyon.
Prairies of Oklahoma
The World Landforms website notes that the rolling hills of Oklahoma represent one of the world’s famous prairies. The Nature Conservancy reports that its Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in northeastern Oklahoma remains one of the larger protected remnants of tall-grass prairie on earth. About 2,500 free-roaming bison graze on the prairie with free public access. Hiking trails wind through the grass and bottomland forests.
Other Famous Landforms
A meteor created Ames Crater in north-central Oklahoma about 450 million years ago, according to the American Oil and Gas Historical Society. Its surface outlines today are barely visible, but an open-air museum marks the spot. It’s one of only six oil-producing craters in the world, according to the Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center. The crater is thousands of feet deep and 8 miles in diameter. A cavern formed from rare alabaster is at Alabaster Caverns State Park, which offers guided tours through this underground landform.
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