Oklahoma has a rich Native American past. In the 1830's Oklahoma was the end of The Trail of Tears  and over 16,000 Cherokee Indian people were forced to move from their eastern homes by the United States government and were relocated to Indian Territory, now Oklahoma. In addition the Five Civilized Tribes were relocated from the southeastern United States. Oklahoma's name is taken from two Choctaw words. "okla" means people and "humma" meaning red, so Oklahoma literally means "red people". Thirty nine tribes and Indian nations have their headquarters in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma has a recent pioneer past. There are people alive today in Oklahoma that remember it as a frontier. Oklahoma is most known to the outside world as the site of the tragic Oklahoma City Bombing. The cost of living is among the lowest in the US and such includes the cost of tourist related activities. Lodging, rental cars, fuel, and restaurants are lower in cost than nearly anywhere else in the US.
The Coastal Southern drawl is rare. The South Midlands accent is more common. This accent ranges from Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and into Texas. Cherokee is common in Tahlequah but English is dominant even there. The Indian tribes are completely integrated in Oklahoma and Indian languages are seldom heard outside Indian events. It is also very common to hear a "twangy" accent in most parts of the state. It sounds very similar to a Texas accent, but with a flair. A trained ear can distinguish between the Texas and Oklahoma accents. There is also a difference in accent between inhabitants of the larger cities and those of the smaller towns and rural areas.
Will Rogers World Airport located in Oklahoma City and Tulsa International Airport in Tulsa are the two major state airports for domestic and international air travel. Other minor airports with limited domestic transport are located in Lawton and (sometimes) Ponca City.
The major interstates of Oklahoma include:
Oklahoma is known as a great place to live and visit. There are a lot of things to do in Oklahoma and it has all kinds of terrain. You will find mountains, pine woods and lakes in the eastern third of the state, plains and grasslands with rolling hills in the center of the state and in the west and panhandle it has plains and approaches more of a desert area. There are all kinds of activities available from hunting, fishing, hiking, to gambling in one of the hundred or so casinos and bingo parlors, and metro activities in Tulsa and Oklahoma City. Oklahoma City is also home of the Cowboy Hall of Fame.
Wichita Mountains of Southwest Oklahoma
These mountains are older than the Rockies, now ancient and worn down, but still beautiful and majestic. The Wichitas are the site of the oldest National Wildlife Refuge in the United States, the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. It is the second most visited refuge in the national wildlife refuge system and attracts more than 2 million visitors annually. At the turn of the century, the American Buffalo was nearly extinct.
President Theodore Roosevelt became concerned. Through the efforts of the American Bison Society and the New York Zoological Society, an offer was made to donate 15 bison to the Wichita National Forest and Game Preserve. Congress set aside $15,000 for this purpose, and on October 11, 1907, 15 of the finest buffalo from the New York Zoological Park were shipped by rail to Oklahoma. Seven days later, these six bulls and nine cows had safely returned to the plains and mountains. Today, The current bison herd is maintained at approximately 650 animals. Along with bison, there many other species of wildlife: more than 50 mammal (including elk and deer), 240 bird, 64 reptile and amphibian, 36 fish, and 806 plant species thrive on this important refuge.
The Wichitas attract rock climbers from the entire region, particularly Texas because of its amazing granite peaks and faces. Mt. Scott has a paved road all the way to the top and provides a great view of southwest Oklahoma. Also in the area you can catch America's longest running passion play each Easter weekend at the Holy City of the Wichitas, hike the Charon's Garden Wilderness Area, camp alongside beautiful lakes, and be sure to try the famous Meersburger at the Meers Store north of the Refuge.
The small historic town of Medicine Park is located at the main entry to the wildlife refuge on State Highway 49. It is widely known as "America's Cobblestone Community" and was Oklahoma's first planned tourism resort, founded July 4th, 1908. Today, the community is experiencing a major revitalization and attracts thousands to visit its quaint shops, dine in restaurants, taverns, winery and stay in its bed and breakfast inns and numerous cottages. The area of the Wichita Mountains has recently been designated as The Wichita Mountains National Scenic Byway.
The legal drinking and purchasing age of alcoholic beverages is 21. Under age drinking is taken very seriously so if you are in a club or bar and appear to be under 30 you should be ready to present identification showing your age. However, Oklahoma is one of the 17 states that doesn't penalize a minor for consuming alcohol if he/she is discovered to have been drinking alcohol through his/her reporting a medical emergency for another under age drinker. Another exception to allow the under age consumption of alcoholic beverages is on private non-alcohol selling premises with or without parental consent.
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Sample some of Oklahoma's premier wines.
Crime is not a big problem in Oklahoma. It is safe to walk in the evenings in almost all Oklahoma cities. Some care should be taken in the major cities of Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Edmond, and Lawton due to a higher crime rate in some areas of these cities. Southern Oklahoma City and Northern Tulsa have higher instances of crime than the rest of those respective cities. There are many areas of Oklahoma City that are not well lit at night. Travelers should exercise common sense in walking in well lit areas, staying on busy streets, removing valuables from vehicles, and locking vehicles.
Oklahoma is a constitutional carry state, so residents and non-residents who are 21 years and older, do not have a felony, or a domestic violence charge, are allowed to carry open and concealed firearms without a license or background check (buying a firearm will require a background check.) Open carry will be more prominent in rural areas than urban areas. There are restrictions on carrying on Federal property, Native American tribe owned buildings, banks, and schools. You should call the sheriff's office of the county you plan on visiting if you have specific questions about carrying a firearm in Oklahoma.
Most Oklahomans will readily help anyone in need regardless of whether they are known to them or a stranger. There is very little "ice" among people in Oklahoma. A traveler in need of assistance should expect a helpful and friendly attitude.
Travelers in need of assistance on the highway may contact the Oklahoma Highway Patrol by dialing *55 on their cellphones.
Oklahoma is at the epicenter of the country's infamous "tornado alley". During the spring and summer seasons, this region is often the hub of very violent thunderstorms which can quickly become life threatening to anyone who is unprepared and in the path of a storm. If you are traveling through the state during the spring/summer months, it is crucial to be vigilant of the weather conditions because they can change rapidly. It is a good idea for the independent traveler to purchase a weather radio that receives the NOAA weather broadcasts to keep yourself regularly informed.
If you are staying in Oklahoma for a period of time, take note that the state does possess state-of-the-art radar and warning systems for tracking severe weather. These systems are, arguably, the best systems in the country. If you have access to a television or the internet then you will be able to readily obtain up-to-date weather information from these sources. For those with internet access or a smartphone, it may be wise to look into the Mesonet website or smartphone app. The Mesonet is the most advanced weather reporting system available to the public. The Mesonet contains more than 100 weather monitoring stations scattered throughout the state and this data is provide is continually updated for the public every 5 minutes.
Refer to the Tornado safety page for more information regarding this matter.