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Explore the Talimena Scenic Drive...

The Talimena Scenic drive winds 54 miles along the crest of Rich Mountain and Winding Stair Mountain in the Ouachita National Forest (pronounced Wash-i-tah). If you can resist stopping to enjoy the many vistas and attractions along the way, the route takes 1 hour and 10 minutes to drive. A leisurely drive can take all day.

Explore the Talimena National Scenic Byway!

  • From the West (Oklahoma)

    • U.S. HIGHWAY 271
    • U.S. Highway 271 Intersect Oklahoma Highway 1. The Talimena Scenic Drive, at the West End Visitor Information Station, 7 miles northeast of Talihina, Oklahoma or 30 miles southwest of Poteau, Oklahoma.

    • U.S. HIGHWAY 259
    • U.S. Highway 259 intersects the halfway point of the Talimena scenic Drive 5 miles north of Big Cedar, Oklahoma, and 18 miles south of Heavener, Oklahoma.

    From the East (Arkansas)

    • Arkansas Highway 88 intersects U.S. Highway 59/71 in the town of Mena.
      The Talimena Scenic drive begins at the East End Visitor Information Station north of town.

    • Arkansas Highway 272 intersects U.S. Highway 270/59 at the town of Rich Mountain, 8 miles North West of the town of Acorn, Arkansas. This highway goes directly to Queen Wilhelmina State Park.

    • Travel Tips

    • Make sure you have plenty of gas before you begin. There are no gasoline stations on the drive.
    • Before you enter the drive, pack a picnic lunch or take along snacks. Vending machines, located at the West End Visitor Information Station, and the restaurant at the Queen Wilhelmina Lodge, offer food and drink.
    • Check weather conditions on the drive before leaving. Ice and fog can be a challenge on the drive even when they are not a problem on lower roads.
    • Visit the East End or West End Visitor Information Stations. These stations are staffed from springtime through fall. They offer area information, brochures and have unique educational materials for sale.
    • Take water with you to drink. Most of the stops along the way do not provide drinking water. Water from streams or springs, although they may run clear, may not be safe to drink.
    • Light jackets are appropriate for windy days, or for fall, winter and spring outings.
    • If you plan to hike, wear comfortable shoes.
    • On most days, photo opportunities are numerous. Take along extra film.
    • During the late spring, summer, and early fall you may want to take insect repellent if you plan to enjoy the trails.
    • Restrooms are located at all Ranger stations, West End VIS (Visitor Information Station), Old Military Road, Horse Thief Spring, Wind Stair Recreation Area, Pipe Spring, Kerr Arboretum and Nature Center, Queen Wilhelmina State Park, Rich Mountain Fire Tower, East End Visitor Information Station.

  • High Clearance Vehicle, 4-Wheel Drive, Sport Utility Vehicle:

    The following roads are not paved and can be washed out after storms. The roads are rough and rocky in spots. A spare tire is a must.

    • Forest service (F.S.) Road 6010 – north to Holson Valley Rd., South to Highway 63
    • F.S. Road 6022 – to Billy Creek
    • F.S. Road 6014 – to Cedar Lake
    • F.S. Road 6007 – to Highway 270/59
    • F.S. Road 6029 – to Pipe Spring
    • F.S. Road 6068 – to Highway 259
    • F.S. Road 514 – to Mountain Fork on Highway 8


    Ouachita National Recreation Trail, the Queen Wilhelmina State Park trails, the interpretive trails at the Kerr Arboretum and the Orchard Trail at the East End Visitor Information Station are restricted to foot travel.Trails with shared uses include Billy Creek, Horse Thief spring, Old Military, Boardstand, Kerr Nature Center, and Earthquake Ridge Trail Complex. Information sheets with maps are available at Ranger and Visitor Information Stations. Several detailed publications are available for sale at retail outlets operated at the Visitor Information Stations.

    Horseback Riding

    The Winding Stair Equestrian Trails and Cedar Lake Recreation Area
    Equestrian Camp are just south of Heavener, Oklahoma. Camping facilities are available to horseback riders year round.

    Mountain Bikes

    The Earthquake Ridge Trail complex and Forest Service roads offer opportunities for mountain bike enthusiasts. Bikes are allowed on the Winding Stair Equestrian Trails and Horse Thief Spring Trail, however horses have the right of way.

    Winding Stair Mountain National Recreation Area

    In October 1988, the United States Congress passed a bill that established the Winding Stair Mountain National Recreation and Wilderness Area. This included more than 97,000 acres in LeFlore County, Oklahoma, and authorized $15 million for tourism and recreation improvements and developments. Special management areas were established including:

    • Black Fork Mountain Wilderness Area
    • Upper Kiamichi River Wilderness Area
    • Robert S. Kerr Memorial Arboretum and Natural center and Botanical Area
    • Beech Creek Botanical Area
    • Indian Nations National Scenic and Wildlife Area
    • Beech creek National Scenic Area
  • Boardstand Road & Old Military Road Trail

    Trail Highlights: The Old Military Trail starts along Holson Valley Road and connects with the Ouachita National Recreation Trail on the south side of Winding Stair Mountain. These two trails, along with Boardstand Trail, can be combined to form a looped hike of about 23 miles.

    The trails travel through the western end of Holson Valley and the Indian Nations Scenic and Wildlife Area.

    Surrounding Areas:
    • Winding Stair Mountain Recreation Area
    • Talimena Scenic Drive
    • Ouachita National Recreation Trail
    • Cedar Lake Campgroun
    • Indian Nations National Scenic and Wildlife Area

    Horsethief Springs Trail

    Trail Highlights: Horsethief Springs Trail is one of the most beautiful trails in the area. The trail begins at Cedar Lake and loops through many different tree species. The hiker will cross several small streams before connecting with the Ouachita National Recreation Trail. The trail then loops back down the northern face of Winding Stair Mountain to Cedar Lake.

    Using the Ouachita National Recreation Trail to form the loop results in about an 11-mile hike.

    Surrounding Areas:
    • Winding Stair Mountain National Recreation Area
    • Cedar Lake Recreation Area
    • Winding Stair Campground
    • Talimena Scenic Drive
    • Ouachita National Recreation Trail


    Trail Highlights: The Winding Stair Equestrian Trails begin at the Cedar Lake Equestrian Camp.

    The trails form a network of loops with different lengths so riders can plan their rides according to their experience and desires.

    Trails climb over mountains, meander along creeks, and travel through different forest types.

    Other Opportunities:
    • The Cedar Lake Equestrian Camp was built specifically for people bringing their horses. It is an ideal place to begin a day’s ride. Day riders can park at the Equestrian Camp or at various trail junctions along the roads.
    • At Cedar Lake Recreation Area there is an 86-acre lake where people can swim at two beaches and fish.
    • The Talimena Scenic Drive that travels the crest of Winding Stair Mountain is just 15 miles away.

Along the drive are several historic sites and numerous turnouts with panoramic vistas. Many of the sites have exhibits that explain the natural and historical significance of the area. Learn about the prehistoric Caddoan people, early settlers of Rich Mountain, the legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), and the Choctaw Nation (tribe) in Indian Territory. Discover interesting facts about the natural environment while absorbing the beauty of shortleaf pine and hardwood forests.

In response to the popularity of ‘driving for pleasure,’ the USDA Forest service established the National Forest Scenic Byway Program in May 1988. This program promotes and recognizes highways in the 156 national forests across 44 states with outstanding scenery and historical significance.

One of the first National forest Scenic Byways, the Talimena Scenic Drive, is located in the western part of the Ouachita Mountains. The drive, designated in February 1989, is between the city limits of Mena, Arkansas and a point of US highway 271 just north of Talihina, Oklahoma.

Constructed by the Oklahoma and Arkansas Highway departments between 1964 and 1969 with federal public highway funds, the route connected two truck trails originally built by Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The Oklahoma and Arkansas highway departments’ now maintain the byway.

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