Plan your trip along the stunning Talimena Scenic Drive with these insider tips on where to eat, stay and sightsee along the way.
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Embarking on a drive along the Talimena National Scenic Byway is an Oklahoma autumnal rite of passage. Head out during the peak of fall foliage - typically the last week of October through the first week of November – and you’ll spot bold pops of color throughout the Ouachita Mountains. However, if you miss leaf-peeping season, this route is a feast for the eyes any time of year. Use this guide for turn-by-turn directions, scenic vistas, popular photo ops, rest area locations, delicious dining and cozy places to stay along the way.
Arriving at the Talimena National Scenic Byway from the east, you’ll begin at the junction of Highway 271 and Oklahoma State Highway 1. Some of the “gateway cities” leading to this junction include Talihina from the east and Poteau and Wilburton from the northeast. 36 of the byway’s 54 drivable miles are located in Oklahoma, and the drive stretches from Talihina, Oklahoma to Mena, Arkansas. On maps and GPS, the scenic drive is displayed as OK-1 in Oklahoma and AR-88 in Arkansas. Without stopping, the entire drive takes a total of one hour and ten minutes, or you can stretch the drive out for the better part of a day.
Travel across Rich Mountain and Winding Stair Mountain in the Ouachita National Forest to spot more than 15 scenic vistas located along Oklahoma's stretch of the Talimena National Scenic Byway. Find more information about vistas along the route in Oklahoma here.
Potato Hills Vista
Holson Valley Vista
Cedar Lake Vista
Big Cedar Vista
Sunset Point Vista
Kiamichi Valley Vista
Pine Mountain Vista
Castle Rock Vista
The closest gas stations to the west entrance of Talimena National Scenic Byway are located in Talihina, which is about a 10-minute drive. There are no gas stations along the scenic drive, so be sure to fill up your tank prior to your trip.
There are several rest areas located along the drive. Not only are restrooms located at all ranger stations, but also at the West End Visitor Information Station, Old Military Road, Horsethief Spring, Winding Stair Recreation Area, Pipe Spring and Kerr Arboretum.
When hunger calls, these restaurants near the Talimena National Scenic Byway are ready to answer. Head to Talihina and be sure to try one of these stand-out dining establishments for top-notch food and unbeatable views.
The Rock House - Talihina
For unsurpassed views and upscale fare, a visit to The Rock House is a must. This restaurant is housed in a remodeled rock home situated in the middle of a 283-acre rural property. Each table offers stunning panoramic views of the Kiamichi Mountain Range, the Potato Hills and impressive Buffalo Mountain. Popular menu options include steak and crab cakes, which you can enjoy while gazing at grazing horses, deer and wild turkeys.
Pam’s Hateful Hussy Diner - Talihina
Don’t let the name throw you off. Pam’s Hateful Hussy Diner offers friendly service and delicious homestyle food seven days a week. Choose from classic breakfast specials in the morning or head in later in the day for a tasty buffet served on Friday and Saturday afternoon. Be sure to pick up one of their famous Hateful Hussy coffee mugs before you leave.
Looking to extend your visit to the Talimena National Scenic Byway? Book a stay at one of these Talihina lodging properties where you can enjoy a stunning sunset from the porch of your cabin and incredible sunrise views in the morning.
Brown Bear Cabin - Talihina
Retreat to the wilderness with a stay at Brown Bear Cabin, which is located at the western edge of the Winding Stair Mountains. This 2,700-square-feet luxury cabin offers three bedrooms and Jacuzzi tubs in both bathrooms. Located just 10 minutes from the beginning of the scenic Talimena Drive, amenities include a fireplace, outdoor hot tub, pool table, full kitchen and wrap-around porch.
Horse Heaven Ranch Resort - Talihina
If you’re looking for a place to spot the fall foliage via horseback, the Horse Heaven Ranch is ready to deliver. Bring your own horse and enjoy top-notch amenities including 10 fully-equipped luxury cabins, a private mini-barn for horses, full-sized horse arena and even RV campsites with full hookups. Horse Heaven Ranch is also a popular getaway for mountain bikers and offers a variety of trails.
When autumn arrives, keep up with latest fall foliage reports here.