Beavers Bend State Park is just outside of Hochatown, about ten miles north of Broken Bow, in the Southeastern corner of Oklahoma near the Arkansas state line.
The Mountain Fork River runs through the state park and is stocked with trout year-round. With the river and Broken Bow Lake, the park is fantastic for fishing. During our recent trip, we saw numerous people fly-fishing.
The hiking trails are beautiful—some of the best I’ve been on. With the steep elevation changes, they are difficult, too.
After a hard hike, my family and I cooled off in the river. Even though the weather was hot and sunny, the river felt like an ice bath. The water is clear and had a strong current while we were there. If you plan to go, be sure to bring river shoes. The slate rocks around and in the river are sharp.
Besides hiking, camping, and fishing, visitors can rent canoes, paddle boards, and kayaks.
My family left the park on Friday for a two-hour kayak tour on the Mountain Fork River just east of Broken Bow. The lady assured us that the section we’d be on is “very gentle—easy enough for a six-year-old.” But the bus driver who drove our group to the drop-off point warned us that the river was much stronger and rougher than in years past, and to “be sure to go left before you get to the waterfall.”
After getting hung in rocks, numerous “rescue” missions, hunting down lost gear, not going left before the waterfall, and crying “I’m going to die” as the river swept us backwards through rocks and multiple mini waterfalls, we made it back in two and a half hours—by far the last in our group. But, despite the tears, panic, and screams, we all agreed that it was our favorite part of the trip and we can’t wait to do it again.
Inside the park, we rented stand-up paddle boards and took them down a calm section of the river. That was a lot of fun during the week, but too crowded on the weekend.
More than once I overheard my wife telling the kids that the river was too cold and swift for snakes. On our last full day, after a long, hot hike, we were at our favorite swimming spot. My son and I were swimming in place against the current upstream from my wife and girls, who were wading about waist deep and looking at rocks and crawfish, when my wife yelled, “snake!” and they all ran out of the water.
My wife was raised on a farm in East Texas and knows her snakes well. She was sure that she almost stepped on a large copperhead in the water and, like copperheads do, it chased her all the way to the shore. Except, she said, copperheads don’t swim.
All the way back to the cabin we discussed what kind of yellow and orange snake with a pit-viper head would swim in a freezing eastern Oklahoma river until she found an online article saying that copperheads are great swimmers and love to eat minnows and crawfish. Never again, she swore, would she ever put a toe in a river.
My little boy, as little boys do, fell into the river twice and got stung by a honey bee inside the only restaurant we went to in Oklahoma. I, being the little boy’s father, backed my pickup into a tree while trying to back out from the cabin. But these things, along with everything else, made for a memorable trip, and we certainly hope to go back to Beavers Bend State Park.