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Hit the Road for Northern Arizona

The Grand Canyon, colorful cliffs and birthday wishes



The angle of light at sunrise and sunset brings out colors in the Grand Canyon that are washed out by harsh noon lighting.

 

Everybody loves a birthday party, and there’s a big one this year: The National Park Service turns 100. And who gets the gifts? We do – America’s national parks, monuments, historic sites, all the 400-plus units of the NPS are a treasure protected for us and for our children. So my husband Jack and I decided to open as many presents as we could. We found plenty in northern Arizona.

 

Petrified Forest National Park is bisected by I-40, popularly known as Route 66 – although it’s simply close to, not exactly on, the original highway. North of the highway, the park is characterized not by petrified wood but by the Painted Desert, part of a large swath of landscape that covers many square miles of the Four Corners area where Arizona abuts Utah, Colorado and New Mexico.

South of I-40 was where we started seeing the petrified pieces of what once were giant trees. More than 200 million years old, these trees were once standing tall in a tropical rainforest. Over eons, fallen trees were acted on by changing rivers and deposited sediment. Water and minerals soaked into the wood fiber, replacing it with mineral deposits – literally turning the wood to stone. Erosion worked to uncover the petrified trees; more erosion removed soil from beneath sections, causing them to fracture into chunks that look as though they have been cut by a saw. The pieces now are basically quartz – but traces of other minerals have created beautiful colors.

A number of overlooks on the route south provide good photo ops, with Agate Bridge a particular favorite. Here a 110-foot log fell, and erosion dug a ravine beneath it. In 1917, park workers built a concrete support bridge to keep the log from fracturing.

The Crystal Forest stop features a three-quarter-mile-long trail past pieces noted for particularly striking colors. Be sure to stop at the Rainbow Forest Museum for information on the geology and paleontology in the park. Walk the Giant Logs Trail behind the museum – a short trail with hills and stairs that’s not wheelchair-accessible, but filled with cool sights. A section of the trail is actually part of an ancient riverbed, and on the platform at the top you can see “Old Faithful” – not the geyser, a massive piece of a giant tree weighing approximately 44 tons.

The name “Painted Desert” is said to have originated with Coronado’s 1540 expedition to find the Seven Cities of Cibola.


Rejoining I-40, we made a quick stop just east of Flagstaff at Walnut Canyon National Monument. The deep canyon here is noteworthy for its biodiversity, which made it an appealing home for ancient Native people. Most importantly, it had water in a dry land.

There are two trails in the park, the Rim Trail and the Island Trail. We chose the Rim Trail because of time … and the 240 steps involved on the Island Trail. The Rim Trail gives you great canyon views and a long-distance view of pueblos dating back to the 1200s. The Island Trail (closed during the month of May this year) actually goes down into the canyon and the pueblos.

Our ultimate destination was the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, but we had a couple more surprises on our route. As we headed north, almost to the Utah border, the scenery became increasingly stunning, thanks to towering red rocks. Each turn of the road elicited another “Wow!” We later discovered this was Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, an area with no visitor center or obvious amenities – just spectacular scenery.

Crossing over the Colorado River, we detoured to the Navajo Bridge Interpretive Center (closed in winter) where we discovered we were in the very tip of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. When the Navajo Bridge was completed in 1929, it was the only bridge across the Colorado River for 600 miles and would become part of the first direct highway between Arizona and Utah.

We walked out onto the old bridge for a great view of the new bridge to the south. The green Colorado was 467 feet below, and above, we spotted a California condor. Once native to the area, they were virtually unseen for decades. Thanks to a 1996 recovery program, the population has grown from six to approximately 76.

Just beyond the bridges, we took another road leading to Lees Ferry. No ferry now, but you’ll find a nice picnic pavilion and a launch area. This is where many Grand Canyon raft trips begin. And while the center is closed in winter, the spot is fine for wading on a warm day.

From the old Navajo Bridge, visitors get a good view of the new bridge, the Vermilion Cliffs and the Colorado River below.


Jack and I had visited the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in spring 2013. The North Rim, at a higher elevation, is only open from mid-May until mid-October. But now it was September – the perfect time to go. The aspens were just turning gold, and most summer visitors had gone home.

The views are just as wonderful, but the facilities are much smaller. With one main lodge, cabins and motel-like accommodations, reservations fill fast even at the end of the season. Reservations for the following season open in October.

Activities include hiking, ranger activities, trail rides and photography, and from June 1 through mid-September cookouts feature cowboy fare and entertainment. The Grand Canyon Lodge has spacious verandas for great views, and the main dining room is ideal for watching the sun go down.

This is the year to get out and go celebrate the saving of America’s most significant sites. A special birthday program is Every Kid in a Park, giving every fourth-grader in the nation a free park pass (parents are included) for the rest of their fourth-grade school year and the summer months. Don’t pass up the chance to sing “Happy Birthday” to the National Park Service.


► Find More

Arizona tourism information |  visitarizona.com

Grand Canyon Lodge | grandcanyonforever.com

Fourth-grade pass |  everykidinapark.gov

 

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Calendar

October 2019

Forms Through Language: an exhibition by San Francisco Artist Gyöngy Laky. On view September 12 – October 31. Free and open to the public. Join us for Laky's Artist Reception on...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
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Telephone: 405-815-9995
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Cost: $4-$6

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1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
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Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
Website »

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October 4-December 29, 2019 Misunderstood! features poems and artworks ranging from 1894 to 2017. As these works demonstrate, Native artists and writers have grappled with the same...

Cost: Free!

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Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
555 Elm Ave.
Norman, OK  73019
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Sponsor: Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
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Cost: Free

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Myriad Gardens
301 W Reno Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Sponsor: The Children's Hospital Volunteers
Contact Name: Molly Pattison
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Cost: $7 in advance, $10 at the gate and FREE for children 12 and under

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River West Festival Park
2100 S. Jackson Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74107
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Sponsor: Linde
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Cost: $175 for the full term

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The Paramount Room
701 W. Sheridan Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Sponsor: The Space OKC
Telephone: 405-887-3327
Contact Name: AL Caveny
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Cost: Free

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Sheraton Oklahoma City Downtown Hotel
1 North Broadway Ave
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Winner of four Tony Awards, including Best Musical Revival, HELLO, DOLLY! is the universally acclaimed smash that NPR calls “the best show of the...

Cost: Varies

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Civic Center Music Hall
201 N Walker Ave
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Sponsor: OKC Broadway
Telephone: 405-594-8300
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October 4-December 29, 2019 Misunderstood! features poems and artworks ranging from 1894 to 2017. As these works demonstrate, Native artists and writers have grappled with the same...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
555 Elm Ave.
Norman, OK  73019
View map »


Sponsor: Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
Website »

More information

Forms Through Language: an exhibition by San Francisco Artist Gyöngy Laky. On view September 12 – October 31. Free and open to the public. Join us for Laky's Artist Reception on...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

Whether it’s a pair of deer in the woods of Oklahoma, or the delicate points of a snowflake in Wisconsin, Maud photographer Sarah Rodefeld is patient and steady as she aims her lens. ...

Cost: $4-$6

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
Website »

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Professional instruction in the art of improvisation. Though some experience with improvisation is beneficial, all skill levels are welcome, no prerequisite classes.  Though sketch comedy...

Cost: $175 for the full term

Where:
The Paramount Room
701 W. Sheridan Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: The Space OKC
Telephone: 405-887-3327
Contact Name: AL Caveny
Website »

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Cost: Free

Where:
Sheraton Oklahoma City Downtown Hotel
1 North Broadway Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Father Michael Lapsley, a South African Anglican priest and noted anti-apartheid activist, will discuss ways that people can begin their journey of forgiveness and healing Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. at...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairview Missionary Baptist Church
1700 NE 7th St.
Oklahoma City, OK  73117
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Sponsor: University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma
Telephone: 405-574-1312
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October 4-December 29, 2019 Misunderstood! features poems and artworks ranging from 1894 to 2017. As these works demonstrate, Native artists and writers have grappled with the same...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
555 Elm Ave.
Norman, OK  73019
View map »


Sponsor: Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
Website »

More information

Forms Through Language: an exhibition by San Francisco Artist Gyöngy Laky. On view September 12 – October 31. Free and open to the public. Join us for Laky's Artist Reception on...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

Whether it’s a pair of deer in the woods of Oklahoma, or the delicate points of a snowflake in Wisconsin, Maud photographer Sarah Rodefeld is patient and steady as she aims her lens. ...

Cost: $4-$6

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
Duncan, OK  73533
View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Sheraton Oklahoma City Downtown Hotel
1 North Broadway Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »

More information

Professional instruction in the art of improvisation. Though some experience with improvisation is beneficial, all skill levels are welcome, no prerequisite classes.  Though sketch comedy...

Cost: $175 for the full term

Where:
The Paramount Room
701 W. Sheridan Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Sponsor: The Space OKC
Telephone: 405-887-3327
Contact Name: AL Caveny
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Join us for an evening of choral works inspired by the celestial mystery of the moon and stars, and the beauty they reflect upon the Earth. The concert will offer a variety of musical responses to...

Cost: Free to the public. Donations accepted.

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Bishop W. Angie Smith Chapel, OCU Campus
2501 N. Blackwelder Ave.
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Cost: $4-$6

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1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
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View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
Website »

More information

Forms Through Language: an exhibition by San Francisco Artist Gyöngy Laky. On view September 12 – October 31. Free and open to the public. Join us for Laky's Artist Reception on...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

October 4-December 29, 2019 Misunderstood! features poems and artworks ranging from 1894 to 2017. As these works demonstrate, Native artists and writers have grappled with the same...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
555 Elm Ave.
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View map »


Sponsor: Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
Website »

More information

Professional instruction in the art of improvisation. Though some experience with improvisation is beneficial, all skill levels are welcome, no prerequisite classes.  Though sketch comedy...

Cost: $175 for the full term

Where:
The Paramount Room
701 W. Sheridan Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: The Space OKC
Telephone: 405-887-3327
Contact Name: AL Caveny
Website »

More information

Come pre-party with us on the patio this Saturday at the Sheraton Hotel. Enjoy our signature cocktail drinks and food bar menu. DJ Catherine Ouellette will be spinning your favorite tunes...

Cost: Free

Where:
Sheraton Oklahoma City Downtown Hotel
1 North Broadway Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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More information

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Whether it’s a pair of deer in the woods of Oklahoma, or the delicate points of a snowflake in Wisconsin, Maud photographer Sarah Rodefeld is patient and steady as she aims her lens. ...

Cost: $4-$6

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
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View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
Website »

More information

Forms Through Language: an exhibition by San Francisco Artist Gyöngy Laky. On view September 12 – October 31. Free and open to the public. Join us for Laky's Artist Reception on...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
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View map »


Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

October 4-December 29, 2019 Misunderstood! features poems and artworks ranging from 1894 to 2017. As these works demonstrate, Native artists and writers have grappled with the same...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
555 Elm Ave.
Norman, OK  73019
View map »


Sponsor: Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
Website »

More information

"Size Queen: Harold Stevenson and the Politics of Looking" Lecture     October 24, 4 p.m. Mary Eddy Auditorium Free and open to the public Join us for a lecture by Dr....

Cost: Free!

Where:
Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
555 Elm Ave.
Norman, OK  74019
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Sponsor: Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
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40 Minutes or Less: Spooky Shorts In partnership with Oklahoma Film Society 6 p.m.  Free and open to the public.  Films: Peur Du Noir # 5 - Directed by Richard McGuire Reverse -...

Cost: Free

Where:
ARTSPACE at Untitled
1 NE 3rd St
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
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Sponsor: ARTSPACE at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

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Come pre-party with us on the patio this Saturday at the Sheraton Hotel. Enjoy our signature cocktail drinks and food bar menu. DJ Catherine Ouellette will be spinning your favorite tunes...

Cost: Free

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Sheraton Oklahoma City Downtown Hotel
1 North Broadway Ave
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View map »

More information

Professional instruction in the art of improvisation. Though some experience with improvisation is beneficial, all skill levels are welcome, no prerequisite classes.  Though sketch comedy...

Cost: $175 for the full term

Where:
The Paramount Room
701 W. Sheridan Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: The Space OKC
Telephone: 405-887-3327
Contact Name: AL Caveny
Website »

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OSU Symphony Orchestra presents Fierce & Feminine: A Celebration of Women Composers! Dr. Thomas Dickey, conductor Sarah King, assistant conductor Dr. Erin Murphy, flute, featured guest...

Cost: $12, 10, & 7

Where:
McKnight Center for the Performing Arts
705 W. University Ave.
Stillwater, OK  74074
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma State University Symphony Orchestra
Telephone: 618-304-2817
Contact Name: Dr. Thomas Dickey, Director of Orchestral Studies
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On Oct. 24 at 7:30 p.m. in the Davis Hall Little Theatre, PUSH Physical Theatre will bring Bram Stoker’s 1897 horror novel DRACULA to life in an original, multi-media performance that...

Cost: $10-15

Where:
Davis Hall Little Theatre
1727 W. Alabama Ave.
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Sponsor: USAO Theatre Arts Department
Telephone: 405-574-1310
Contact Name: Katie Davis
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Whether it’s a pair of deer in the woods of Oklahoma, or the delicate points of a snowflake in Wisconsin, Maud photographer Sarah Rodefeld is patient and steady as she aims her lens. ...

Cost: $4-$6

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
1000 Chisholm Trail Parkway
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View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
Website »

More information

Forms Through Language: an exhibition by San Francisco Artist Gyöngy Laky. On view September 12 – October 31. Free and open to the public. Join us for Laky's Artist Reception on...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

October 4-December 29, 2019 Misunderstood! features poems and artworks ranging from 1894 to 2017. As these works demonstrate, Native artists and writers have grappled with the same...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
555 Elm Ave.
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View map »


Sponsor: Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
Website »

More information

This is one interactive haunted experience you WILL NOT want to miss! Will you be the one left behind or will your tactical skills get you to the other side?! Bring your friends and family to our...

Cost: $8

Where:
Nerfed Indoor Battle Arena
1 East Main St.
Shawnee, OK  74801
View map »


Sponsor: Nerfed Indoor Battle Arena
Telephone: 405-585-1321
Contact Name: Beau & Misty Dorrough
Website »

More information

Professional instruction in the art of improvisation. Though some experience with improvisation is beneficial, all skill levels are welcome, no prerequisite classes.  Though sketch comedy...

Cost: $175 for the full term

Where:
The Paramount Room
701 W. Sheridan Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: The Space OKC
Telephone: 405-887-3327
Contact Name: AL Caveny
Website »

More information

Come pre-party with us on the patio this Saturday at the Sheraton Hotel. Enjoy our signature cocktail drinks and food bar menu. DJ Catherine Ouellette will be spinning your favorite tunes...

Cost: Free

Where:
Sheraton Oklahoma City Downtown Hotel
1 North Broadway Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »

More information

World-renowned pianist Jonathan Biss embarked on a 9-year project of recording the complete cycle of Beethoven’s piano sonatas. These works are among the most expressive and challenging piano...

Cost: Varying

Where:
McKnight Center Performance Hall
419 S. Monroe
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Cost: Varying

Where:
McKnight Center Performance Hall
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Tired of the same old Halloween parties? Join Oklahoma River Cruises and let’s Haunt the River.  Enjoy the decorated boat, haunted tunes, light snacks and cash bar on board....

Cost: $35

Where:
Exchange Ave. Landing
1503 Exchange Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73108
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma River Cruises
Telephone: 405-702-7755
Contact Name: Che Loessberg
Website »

More information

The immersive concert-style theater show chronicles the amazing journey shared by the folk-rock duo Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. It tells the story from their humble beginnings as Tom &...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Hudiburg Chevrolet Center
6000 Prosper Blvd
Midwest City, OK  73110
View map »


Sponsor: OKC Broadway
Telephone: 405-594-8300
Website »

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Cost: $30-$45

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Whether it’s a pair of deer in the woods of Oklahoma, or the delicate points of a snowflake in Wisconsin, Maud photographer Sarah Rodefeld is patient and steady as she aims her lens. ...

Cost: $4-$6

Where:
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
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View map »


Sponsor: Chisholm Trail Heritage Center
Telephone: 580.252.6692
Contact Name: Toni Hopper
Website »

More information

October 4-December 29, 2019 Misunderstood! features poems and artworks ranging from 1894 to 2017. As these works demonstrate, Native artists and writers have grappled with the same...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
555 Elm Ave.
Norman, OK  73019
View map »


Sponsor: Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
Website »

More information

Forms Through Language: an exhibition by San Francisco Artist Gyöngy Laky. On view September 12 – October 31. Free and open to the public. Join us for Laky's Artist Reception on...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

America’s largest interactive comedy murder mystery dinner show is now playing at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel. At The Dinner Detective, you’ll tackle a challenging crime while you...

Cost: $59.95

Where:
The Skirvin Hilton
1 Park Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: The Dinner Detective
Telephone: 866.496.0535
Website »

More information

We're poppin' champagne on the patio this Saturday and raffling off a bottle of Perrier-Jouet valued at $300! Come pre-party with us and DJ Catherine Ouellette from 6pm-10pm -...

Cost: Free

Where:
Sheraton Oklahoma City Downtown Hotel
1, N Broadway Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »

More information

This is one interactive haunted experience you WILL NOT want to miss! Will you be the one left behind or will your tactical skills get you to the other side?! Bring your friends and family to our...

Cost: $8

Where:
Nerfed Indoor Battle Arena
1 East Main St.
Shawnee, OK  74801
View map »


Sponsor: Nerfed Indoor Battle Arena
Telephone: 405-585-1321
Contact Name: Beau & Misty Dorrough
Website »

More information

Professional instruction in the art of improvisation. Though some experience with improvisation is beneficial, all skill levels are welcome, no prerequisite classes.  Though sketch comedy...

Cost: $175 for the full term

Where:
The Paramount Room
701 W. Sheridan Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: The Space OKC
Telephone: 405-887-3327
Contact Name: AL Caveny
Website »

More information

Come pre-party with us on the patio this Saturday at the Sheraton Hotel. Enjoy our signature cocktail drinks and food bar menu. DJ Catherine Ouellette will be spinning your favorite tunes...

Cost: Free

Where:
Sheraton Oklahoma City Downtown Hotel
1 North Broadway Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »

More information

Tired of the same old Halloween parties? Join Oklahoma River Cruises and let’s Haunt the River.  Enjoy the decorated boat, haunted tunes, light snacks and cash bar on board....

Cost: $35

Where:
Exchange Ave. Landing
1503 Exchange Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73108
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma River Cruises
Telephone: 405-702-7755
Contact Name: Che Loessberg
Website »

More information

From three-time Tony® winner and Hamilton choreographer, Andy Blankenbuehler, comes an inspiring new American musical that explodes with infectious music and high-octane, heart-stopping...

Cost: $30-$45

Where:
OCCC Visual and Performing Arts Center
7777 South May Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK  73159
View map »


Sponsor: INSURICA

More information

The immersive concert-style theater show chronicles the amazing journey shared by the folk-rock duo Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. It tells the story from their humble beginnings as Tom &...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Hudiburg Chevrolet Center
6000 Prosper Blvd
Midwest City, OK  73110
View map »


Sponsor: OKC Broadway
Telephone: 405-594-8300
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
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