Scenic USA - Oklahoma

Mountain Gateway Scenic Byway

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Mountain Gateway Scenic Byway - Oklahoma

Photos by Ben Prepelka
Scenic USA Artist Website

   Unlike the vast western plains of Oklahoma, the Mountain Gateway Scenic Byway winds through the Ouachita Mountains in the Kiamichi Country region. Showcasing one of America's oldest mountain landscapes, the Ouachitas here run east to west rather than a typical north-south direction. Among the forests of shortleaf pine, blackjack oak, black hickory, sugar maple and dogwood, the byway extends 22 miles between the city of Heavener and the Arkansas state border. Following U.S. Route 59/270, this byway is surrounded by the Ouachita National Forest and the Winding Stair National Recreation Area. Aside from sightseers stopping at the byway's marvelous panoramic overlooks, many byway travelers are bound for weekend camping, backcountry hiking, horseback riding, boating and fishing areas.
   This mountaintop view overlooks the town of Heavener, named for founder Joseph H. Heavener. Arriving in 1877, Heavener was one of the area's first white settlers. It wasn't long before the Curtis Act allowed for towns to be incorporated despite the area's status as Choctaw Indian territory.
   Today the city of Heavener is most famous for a mysterious rock, known as the Heavener Runestone. Preserved in a city park, the cryptic stone is thought to have been etched out by pre-Columbian Norsemen while exploring North America during the 11th century. Even though Gloria Farley spent years meticulously researching the stone and interpreting the runic inscription, archaeologists have found no other Norse artifacts to verify their presence in Oklahoma.

    Byway Map


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