Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Talimena Drive - 50+ miles of fun
Southeast Oklahoma is home of one of the best National Scenic Byways, but possibly, one of the least known in the country. The drive was designated a National Scenic Byway in 2005. The Talimena Drive is 54 miles of curves, switchbacks, and rolling hills running along the ridge of the Ouachita Mountains from Talihena, Oklahoma to Mena, Arkansas.
West EntranceIn Oklahoma the drive is known as Oklahoma 1 and in Arkansas it is Arkansas 88. The road travels through the Ouachita National Forest and on the crest of Rich Mountain and Winding Stair Mountain. Rich Mountain is Arkansas' second highest mountain at 2,681 feet. There are 22 scenic overlooks and several historic locations allowing for great vistas and good locations to stop and enjoy the views.
The Talimena Drive - miles of fun.The two lane road is well maintained and well traveled. One has to watch for rocks on the road that come from rock slides and/or gravel from side roads and overlooks. There are several long straightaways that allow for some great acceleration, but be forewarned, the road is periodically patrolled. No trucks are allowed, but you will come across so RV's at times.
Notice the road on the top of the far mountain.Any of the overlooks will provide a great view of the Oklahoma and/or Arkansas landscape. The drive also has its share of wildlife. I have seen deer, bear, rabbits, and other small mammals. Golden Eagles are active in the spring and winter.
Golden Eagle - seen from Eagleton Vista
The east 18 miles of the drive are in Arkansas and runs through the Queen Wilhelmina State Park. The park is home of the Queen Wilhelmina Lodge, one of the most historic lodges around. The lodge's restaurant has an awesome lunch buffet daily. Many times we have ridden up for lunch and then headed back home.
The lodge has spectacular views, hiking trails, and great food.
The views can make you take your eyes off the road, but don't.
Historic train at Queen Wilhelmina State Park, Arkansas
The road is awesome and well worth the trip. Several of the roads to get there are also scenic and great motorcycle roads. After you complete the drive you will want to turn around and run it back! It is a premier motorcycling road and screams to be ridden.