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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 Entrance
In 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.

10 comments:

  1. You do get to the most interesting places. Great post.

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  2. It is a great road. The Fall is a great time to ride it. The leaves are changing and the colors are great.

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  3. This is lovely. Thanks for taking me out there.

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  4. What a great lunch ride! The pic of two bikes on the road looks like a storm went through. Is that why all the woodsy debris was laying around or is it always like that? I can see how it would be hard to take in the scenery if your dodging sticks and limbs!

    Beautiful place though... and it just got added to the mile long bucket list I already have going!

    Thanks for sharing! :)

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  5. Lady Ridesalot, yes a storm had been through the area a day or two prior to that trip. Like any country road you have to watch for things on the road. It is still well worth going.

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  6. Great post... looking to head in that direction later in the year - will definitely add these miles to our ride - thanks for sharing.

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  7. What a fantastic area to ride! Great pics and I love that header photo, is that in the same area?

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  8. Rider, the header photo is from July 2010 in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. Talimena is a great road. If you get the chance to ride it you will love it.

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