Eric Standridge is a freelance writer with an interest in history. His main focus is writing about Oklahoma.
Oklahoma has many stereotypes. Some see it as a state full of Cowboys and Indians, others see it as where oil began. While these stereotypes have some merit, they only show a small portion of what Oklahoma is.
Perhaps one of the least known aspects of Oklahoma is it's thriving extreme sports scene. In fact, Oklahoma has a thriving community of extreme sports fanatics. From skydiving to rock climbing, the landscape of Oklahoma is perfectly suited for extreme sports.
The landscape of Oklahoma is one of the most diverse in the country. In eastern Oklahoma, the landscape is perfect for hiking and white water rafting. The Ouachita Mountains also provide the perfect scenic backdrop for those who want to get lost in it all. In western Oklahoma, the dry, rocky mountains provide a lot of opportunity for both rock climbing and hang gliding. There's also several miles worth of sand dunes that are perfect for extreme dune buggy racing.
The next time someone tells you that Oklahoma is a boring state, laugh, and then send them here.
Rock Climbing in Oklahoma
The Wichita Mountains have been associated with rock climbing for over one hundred years. In the early 1900's, rock climbing was done out of necessity as prospectors hunted for gold throughout the mountains in the Wichita Gold Rush. After the area was converted into a state park, many people soon realized that it was a perfect place in Oklahoma for both skydiving and rock climbing. Today, there are several outfits that focus on rock climbing in the Wichita Mountains. The difficulty level ranges from the extreme novice to those with advanced skills.
Another popular rock climbing location in Oklahoma is Quartz Mountain, also known as Baldy Point. This strand of mountains jut up out of an otherwise flat land and provide some of the best rock climbing opportunities in southwest Oklahoma.
Rock climbing in Oklahoma is so popular that several organizations exist solely in order to support this extreme sport. The Rocktown Climbing Gym is one of the most well known in Oklahoma. Their facilities exist in order to support the rock climbing community, as well as to encourage and teach others who are interested in the sport.
Hang gliding and Skydiving in Oklahoma
Wide open spaces and favorable air currents make Oklahoma the perfect place for hang gliding and skydiving.
The Ouachita Mountains in Southeastern Oklahoma is a mecca for hang gliders. Over the years, several "landing strips" have been carved out of the side of mountains and established on the many cliffs in the area. These cleared off places allow the perfect launch point for hang gliders, and have been chosen because the air currents are favorable to this type of extreme sport. While this type of extreme sport is most commonly found in southeastern Oklahoma, the Wichita Mountains and several other points across the state also provide many opportunities for those interested in hang gliding.
Ever since the early 1920's, Oklahoma has been an aviators paradise. Tulsa, in particular, has had several industries centered around airplanes and aviators. Because of this, it seems only natural that skydiving would take hold in the state as well. Across Oklahoma, there have been numerous skydiving outfits established. Some of these outfits focus purely on the novice and those who wish to try it. Other outfits have been established for the expert sky diver, and they constantly try to push the envelope of what can be accomplished in the air.
Other Extreme Sports in Oklahoma
Extreme sports enthusiasts can be found all over Oklahoma, from the Roller Derby League in Tulsa to the Skateparks of Poteau; these people focus on pushing themselves to the edge.
Kite surfing has been a popular sport on Lake Hefner for many years. This lake is one of the most favorable spots for this extreme sport because of its generally calm waters and steady breeze. On most weekends throughout the summer months, one can find a plethora of kite surfers frequenting these waters.
In several places across Oklahoma, whitewater rafting, canoeing, cliff diving, and extreme backpacking can be found with ease. The Wichita and Ouachita mountain ranges both offer several facilities for these types of sports. In addition, there are several organizations that offer assistance with those who desire to learn the sport.
The Little Sahara Desert in northwestern Oklahoma resembles that of the Sahara Desert. It is a naturally occurring desert with shift sand dunes and wide open spaces, perfect for dune buggy races and wind-car races.
Extreme skateboarding has slowly gained popularity in Oklahoma as well. On any given day, you can visit downtown Tulsa or Oklahoma City and see skateboarders practicing new tricks. Several newer facilities, such as the Off Broadway Skatepark in Poteau, provide the most challenging and up-to-date facilities in the state.
Changing the way we Envision Oklahoma
For most, the thought of extreme sports in Oklahoma is simply absurd. However, Oklahoma's natural landscapes and modern facilities provides extreme sport enthusiasts across the country with a great playground full of adventure.
The next time someone says that Oklahoma is boring, don't believe them.
© 2012 Eric Standridge