What to Do
Chickasaw National Recreation Area – In 1902, the Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations and the federal government collaborated to protect aquifer-fed springs, streams and lakes, resulting in the creation of a 15-square-mile national park. In 1933, the Civilian Conservation Corps enhanced the area, adding pavilions, trails, roads, dams, swimming holes and waterfalls. The park contains unique waters with sensory experiences you’ll only find in Sulphur.
Few places in the world provide easy access to “fossil water” – water that’s 11,000 years old. For centuries, people have hauled jugs to Vendome Well, which is more than 700 feet deep, to sip the ancient agua. While the National Park Service says it can’t confirm or deny the water’s therapeutic values, the water is drinkable … though it’s an acquired taste. It’s so laden with minerals such as sulfur, calcium, sodium and magnesium, locals recommend leaving jugs uncapped for 24 hours before drinking.
For more water attractions with an interesting past, visit the park’s fresh and mineral water springs in the northeast corner of the area. Each spring contains its own history: Buffalo Springs was once where wild bison bathed and rolled in the mud, while Black Sulphur Springs (the most fragrant of all) is where Lincoln Bridge was built in 1909, providing a safe passage for horses to cross the stream. Consult signs and park rangers to determine which springs are currently safe for drinking and wading.
Little Niagara Falls – or any of the named falls – offer pure refreshment. The waters are a cool 65 degrees year-round. Arrive early on a summer day; parking is known to fill up by 10 a.m.
If being on the water and not in it is your preference, Veterans Lake and the Lake of the Arbuckles are popular destinations for fishing and boating. Buckhorn campground on the Lake of the Arbuckles includes beaches for swimming and picnicking.
Where to Stay
The 81-room Artesian Hotel is designed to honor the original Artesian, which was built in 1906 but burned down in 1962. Water lovers will delight in the bathhouse – designed to mimic the hotel’s historic spa – and the heated indoor-outdoor pool. The facility also has a full-service spa.
The Echo Canyon Spa Resort is an adults-only retreat featuring five cottages and 10 suites, all with Jacuzzi tubs and private patios. Surrounded by 27 acres of wilderness, guests soak in views of fields, forest and rock formations. The resort’s Aloha Spa and Baron of Beef restaurant are for guests only.
What to Eat
The fried pork rinds may still be crackling when they hit the table at Springs at The Artesian. Other favorites include the Monte Cristo sandwich, served with homemade blackberry sauce, and the grilled bone-in pork chop topped with pickled red onions and roasted apples.
Staying at Echo Canyon Resort Spa grants you entry into this exclusive five-star restaurant. With a seasonal and ever-changing menu, entrees could include prime beef filet, fresh Alaskan halibut, organic elk or roasted duck breast. Peaches and blackberries picked from the resort’s orchard are incorporated into sauces, cobblers and cocktails.