A Review of Arbuckle Wilderness in Oklahoma
Holly’s sKoop: An afternoon at Arbuckle Wilderness
by Holly Duenas
Our family is a HUGE fan of America’s Funniest Home Videos. My husband especially….he loves laughing at other people’s misfortunes. He’s sweet like that. And I believe my kids have inherited his sense of humor as well. I hear them laughing nonstop during this television show. We’ve noticed that almost every episode of AFV has a family driving through one of those drive-thru safari experiences where someone’s face almost gets pecked off by an ostrich or a hand gets chomped by a zebra. So we thought, hey, let’s go do that! Heck, we might even win $100,000 someday with a funny video we submit to AFV. Okay, maybe not.
Our kids have been to many zoos, Disney’s Animal Kingdom and other wildlife centers, but this was one outdoor experience we had yet to share with them. I did the research and the closest spot to where we live was Arbuckle Wilderness in Davis, Oklahoma. So one beautiful day during Spring Break, that also happened to be my hub’s birthday, we headed two hours north for an experience I am positive my children will never forget.
Now, this wouldn’t be the first time I had ever visited Arbuckle. As a child, my family stopped by this place on one of our many road trips to visit my grandparents in Oklahoma City. All I remember was feeding animals from the car, my mom getting mad at my dad for rolling down the window too far (which I’ll admit I did the same to my husband too! Men..they like to tease us women,) throwing some feed to ducks in a pond, and taking home a souvenir cup. Oh, and I remember it was definitely fun.
I read reviews online before we left and the reviews were not good at all. People stated it was run down, in need of repairs and that there wasn’t a good variety of animals. So, basically, we went knowing it wasn’t going to be “amazing” but we knew we were going for the experience of it. Basically, we had low expectations. I’m glad we did. It’s true. The place is old, needs major updating, and half the place was shut down when we were there. But our family is fun. We find fun wherever we go. It’s all in how you look at things. And even though the price you pay (which is $16.99 for adults and children ages 4-11, $14.99. Plus a few bucks to buy animal feed) is a bit high for what you get, the reactions our kids had to feeding these animals were worth every penny. There aren’t any giraffes or tigers like the photos show (not that I would want a tiger walking up to my car!) but we saw plenty of animals. Our kids’ favorites were the llamas and the donkeys. I heard so many “Awwww!”s and “Mommy, Daddy, look!!” that I was smiling and laughing the whole ride.
The outdoor drive-through took us about an hour to an hour and a half and we saw emus, ostriches (warning those two animals are aggressive!), rhinos, llamas, donkeys, hyenas, different kinds of deer, horses, ducks, turtles, and others I’m sure I’m forgetting. I know there are zebras but they didn’t come out for us, unfortunately. And wow, were these animals trained to know what’s going on. They flock to your car to get food! They literally walk right in front of your vehicle to stop you. My kids thought it was the best thing ever! My 18 month old son was “oohing “and “ahhing” the entire ride and he’s not one that loves his car seat. He was entertained every second of the way.
A tip I would share is to get there as soon as the place opens, which was 10am the day we went. Not only do you not have to share the road with many other people, but the animals are more hungry and also more alert. We went at our own pace and didn’t feel like anyone was right on our tail. Also, the weather was really nice in the morning. The heat of the day hadn’t kicked in yet. There is an outdoor wildlife walk-through as well, which was closed when we were there. It has since reopened. I can’t comment on that section since we weren’t able to see it (which was a bummer!)
We ended our trip to Arbuckle by driving 5 minutes across the freeway (west of I 35) over to the Turner Falls area. We didn’t pay to enter the state park, but stayed left and followed the road up a hill until we found a lookout area with an awesome view of the falls. Free. And awesome. My kids had never seen a waterfall and thought it was pretty amazing!
I think my husband had a pretty awesome birthday. We didn’t get attacked by any animals (unfortunately we won’t be prize winners on AFV anytime soon), but we made some fun family memories that will last a lifetime.
Holly Duenas is a stay-at-home-mama of 4 kiddos (with one more on the way!), wife of one studly man, hard core blogger, and creator of the new family fun site, www.myskoop.com