Quartz Mountain State Park, Oklahoma

Photo: Quartz Mountain Resort Arts & Conference Center
Photo: Quartz Mountain Resort Arts & Conference Center

Do you have a long weekend coming up? Are you looking to get out of town for a few days? Martin Luther King, Jr. Day always seems to arrive at just the right time. You’re ready to get away from work and enjoy some quiet time after the hectic holiday season. And you don’t even have to travel very far to enjoy yourself.

Quartz Mountain State Park is in Southwest Oklahoma near the Texas border. This area of the Wichita Mountains is an easy drive from Oklahoma City and Dallas. You’ll quickly feel far removed from anything resembling a city, especially once you leave Altus. You’re heading north, toward a state park known for its huge reservoir, Lake Altus, and granite-faced mountains. Most of the lake activities close down in the winter, though this is the perfect time of year for trout fishing and eagle watching.

Make the Quartz Mountain Resort your home base. The lodge-style resort has stone fireplaces, high-beamed ceilings, and huge windows overlooking the water. Your custom-decorated room has pine furniture and a balcony with the same view. Check out the landscape and the wild animal artwork in the gallery. And create your long-weekend plan over pork and eggs at the Sundance Café.

Photo: Quartz Mountain Resort Arts & Conference Center
Photo: Quartz Mountain Resort Arts & Conference Center

After breakfast, join the group heading out on an eagle watch. It may take awhile, but eventually two Bald Eagles take off from a cottonwood tree in the distance. They soar over the just-starting-to-freeze lake, and then they swoop down toward a Mesquite tree. The lake’s water level has been low, but you can still bring your rod over to the main boat ramp and try to catch rainbow trout. Then spend the afternoon hiking on one of the Baldy Point trails. Take the moderate Summit Trail by large boulders, steep granite walls, and unusual rock formations. You’ll probably pass deer along the way. For a steeper climb and a better view, hike the Black Jack Pass Trail. Only experts should attempt Baldy Point itself. But you’ll be rewarded with a view over Lake Altus, nearby Mount Scott, and the Oklahoma wheat fields.

It gets chilly quickly when the sun starts to dip behind the mountains. Return to the resort and take a quick dip in the indoor pool before practically falling asleep in the whirlpool. Sit by one of the fireplaces with a glass of Zinfandel from the nearby Windmill Winery. Eat a hearty chili or meatloaf dinner. And turn in early so you can wake up in time to see the Bald Eagles again in the morning. This is exactly the kind of quiet, low-key weekend you needed.

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