Oklahoma - Abbey Travel, Ireland



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Welcome to Oklahoma


For some Americans, Oklahoma is that state of indeterminate location and character. Though often considered part of the Southwest, even this point is up for debate. It lacks the rugged canyons and pastel skies of New Mexico or Arizona. Yet Oklahoma's identity is distinct and very much a legacy of the Old West. Its vast rolling plains marked the end of the Trail of Tears, when the Cherokee, along with many other Native American peoples, were removed from lands to the east. This new Indian Territory proved too attractive to settlers, however, and the government held a series of 'land runs' for pioneers to stake their claims. The movie Far and Awaydepicts one of these mad dashes for property, when cities of thousands sprung up overnight, including Oklahoma City, now the capital. The Native Americans fought further expansion, and today Oklahoma has the second largest Indian population in the United States, providing visitors with rich cultural experiences like powwows, craft festivals and traditional storytelling. Events also pay homage to the cowboys of history, with more than 100 rodeos taking place in Oklahoma each year in which modern-day cowboys compete in calf-roping, steer-wrestling and bull-riding events. The state also has a strong African-American heritage. Many blacks headed to Oklahoma to escape slavery and oppression and formed all-black communities. The few that remain today, like Langston, still host cultural celebrations.

The flat, fertile land of the central region is only one part of Oklahoma's diverse terrain. In the east, the prairies give way to rugged mountains and dense forests. This region, today a favourite of rappellers, hikers and equestrians, was once a favourite of outlaws as well. Robbers Cave State Park served as a hideout for such notorious fugitives as Jesse James and Belle Starr. The Broken Bow area is also popular with outdoorsmen. Its fly-fishing and boating opportunities make it a top holiday spot. In the north, the grasslands shift again into one of Oklahoma's most intriguing natural wonders, the Great Salt Plains, literally an 8,690-acre sea of salt, and in the west lie the Beaver Dunes, where adventurous visitors can rev up dune buggies or ATVs and race down sandy slopes.

It may be hard not to assume that the farm-life images of the musical Oklahomaare true for the entire state. However, while Oklahoma as a whole tends to be conservative and inspires nostalgia for a slower pace and simpler life, sophistication is not precluded. The vision and sensitivity with which the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum were established, in honour of those who died in the 1995 bombing, attest to this. So do the state's well-preserved architectural gems, remnants of the Oklahoma oil boom of the 1920s and 1930s, which include the Price Tower Arts Center in Bartlesville, the only completed skyscraper designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and the Art Deco buildings of Tulsa. Finally, there is historic Route 66, not exactly sophisticated, but not farmland either. Visitors in search of travel kitsch will find landmarks in roadside architecture, including the Blue Whale and Totem Pole Park, on this original highway to the West.

Information & Facts


Because Oklahoma's geography is so diverse, temperatures and rainfall vary from one part of the state to another, and weather conditions change quickly. Generally, the state has a mild and humid climate, except for the northwestern panhandle, which is semi-arid. Winters are quite chilly, but cold snaps usually only last for very short periods of time. Summers, on the other hand, can be sweltering. Springs are warm, though thunderstorms are frequent, while autumn is often the most enjoyable season, with blue skies and mild, sunny days.

English is the most common language but Spanish is often spoken in south-western states.

The US Dollar (USD) is the unit of currency and is divided into 100 cents. Only major banks exchange foreign currency. ATMs are widespread and credit cards and travellers cheques are widely accepted. Travellers cheques should be taken in US Dollars to avoid hassles. Banking hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm.

GMT -6 (GMT -5 from March to November).

Looking for something a bit different?  Check out our selection of cultural & adventure holidays or if you're looking to go it alone then see our selection of solo holidays.

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