A Fall Foliage Drive on Scenic Highway 10
If you’re searching for a little seasonal beauty this fall, pack up the car and enjoy a drive on one of Green Country’s most popular scenic byways on State Highway 10 between Gore and Grove. Stretching from the shores of Tenkiller Lake all the way up to Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees, this picturesque route winds around bending curves and over forested hills of vibrant foliage, with unique local eateries, gorgeous state parks, and wonderful opportunities for outdoor fun along the way. It's a perfect northeast Oklahoma road trip to surround yourself with autumn leaves and sparkling waters on crisp fall days, so gas up the car, throw a jacket in your bag and hit the road!
Gore to Tenkiller Lake
Start by exploring the charming small town of Gore. For a great meal before you start your journey, visit Emily's Tea Room in downtown Gore. Start with a brief detour on Highway 100 to Tenkiller Lake where you'll find gorgeous scenery along the roads near the dam. In addition to all the fishing, boating, and other activities available at Tenkiller Lake, the area of the Lower Illinois River around Gore has made the city famous as the Trout Capital of Oklahoma, so fishing enthusiasts won’t want to miss the opportunity to make their next big catch. Those interested in an overnight adventure in the area can book a stay at Marval Resort, which offers everything from tent camping and full-hookup RV sites to cozy riverfront cabins and plenty of activities.
Greenleaf State Park
As you head northwest from Tenkiller Lake on Highway 10-A, you'll come across Soda Steve's which is a great place to stop for a casual meal, or a decadent dessert like their hot fudge nachos. Less than 10 miles up the road from the Tenkiller State Park area on Highway 10-A lies the natural treasure of Greenleaf State Park. Situated on the quiet shores of Greenleaf Lake, this park is a favorite of hikers, campers, fishermen, and anyone else seeking a fall escape. There are several ways to enjoy the park in the fall, even a heated fishing dock at the marina in case the day gets a bit chilly. Greenleaf State Park is also home to 16 beautiful native stone cabins built in the 1930s by the WPA, all of which are stocked with modern comforts like climate control and satellite TV.
Continue north on Highway 10 for 15 miles to find one of the state’s oldest towns at Fort Gibson. Take a short detour towards downtown to explore the history of the American West at the Fort Gibson Historic Site. The oldest U.S. Army post in the area that would eventually become Oklahoma, today the fort is full of fascinating exhibits and installations detailing its unique past, including original structures from the 1840s-70s. The Fort Gibson Historic Site also hosts several living history programs and events throughout the year.
Turning northeast, Highway 10 runs through some wide-open countryside for just over 20 more miles before running into the Cherokee Nation capital city of Tahlequah. Take in the deep red and golden brown hues of the foliage as the road passes over gentle creeks and runs through sleepy wooded thickets, and get ready to experience one of Green Country’s most stunningly picturesque areas. If you’re ready for a bite to eat, stop in for some amazing comfort food from local favorites like Fish’s Barbecue and Katfish Kitchen, or drive further into town for an incredible slice of pizza at Sam and Ella’s Chicken Palace. Explore some of the area’s rich Native American history with a stop at the Cherokee National History Museum, or make a short detour to the nearby town of Park Hill to experience the splendor of Hunter’s Home - Oklahoma's only remaining antebellum mansion.
Illinois River and Natural Falls State Park
Follow Highway 10 northeast out of Tahlequah as it begins to parallel the winding course of the Illinois River. During the summer this area is full of visitors in search of outdoor fun like a weekend rafting trip or camping excursion, but during the autumn months visitors can enjoy the peaceful, rolling hills and the dramatic cliffsides the highway cuts through, spotting abundant wildlife such as the bald eagles that winter in the area. There are several public access areas along the river where you can get out and stretch your legs and dip your toes in the cold, spring-fed stream, try your hand at fishing or take a hike on wooded trails. About a half hour outside of Tahlequah on Highway 10, take a short 10-minute detour east on Highway 412/59 to find the incredible natural beauty of Natural Falls State Park. Enjoy a walk through the golden fall foliage along the trail leading to the 77-foot cascading waterfall that gives the park its name, and rest up for a night in one of the park’s luxury yurts which sleep four to six guests.
When you’re ready to hit the road again, head back to Highway 10 and continue north for about 15 miles to get to Eucha Lake. Situated in the Spavinaw Hills just west of the Arkansas border, this little-known lake offers 49 miles of shoreline with picnic areas, a nature trail, and even playgrounds so the little ones can burn off some of that restless energy from being cooped up in the car. The lake also has public fishing docks, and is known for producing trophy-sized largemouth bass and sunfish.
Grove and Grand Lake
From Eucha Lake, keep going north another 20 miles until you get to the town of Grove. This Grand Lake resort town has everything you could ask for at the end of your long drive. Grab some tasty eats from hotspots in town like Honey Creek BBQ and Goodfellas Pizzeria, book an overnight stay at one of several nearby hotels and resorts, or enjoy an action-packed evening in one of the local casinos. Other popular destinations in and around Grove include the Honey Creek Area at Grand Lake State Park and the immersive historical experience of Har-Ber Village Museum. You can even cap off your fall foliage tour off with a stroll through the eight breathtaking acres of Lendonwood Gardens.
While Highway 10 is one of the most scenic fall foliage routes in Oklahoma, Green Country has many more leaf peeping hot spots for you to enjoy. Visit Osage Hills State Park near Pawhuska to hike, camp and fish amid colorful autumn leaves. Head to Oologah Lake and the surrounding countryside for a glorious display of foliage. Stroll through Muskogee's Honor Heights Park and marvel at vibrant hues reflecting on the surface of the pond or take in the color on the shores of Eufaula Lake. Wherever you wander in Green Country, you're sure to find wonderful fall adventures!