Cherokee Hills Byway
- DesignationNational Scenic Byway (2009)
- Intrinsic QualitiesCultural
- Length84 miles
The Cherokee Hills Byway is one of Oklahoma’s most beautiful roadways and is able to showcase the wonderful diversity of the area. Located in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains, Byway has so much to offer for just about anybody who wants to enjoy it. With beautiful scenic views, recreational activities galore, and a rich history, this Byway is truly an amazing site in the state of Oklahoma and can create wonderful memories.
Story of the Byway
The Cherokee Hills Byway is a very important piece of American history, while also being a very scenic and relaxing drive with many beautiful sights. This route was designated as a National Scenic Byway in 2009 for both its beauty and its historical significance. The reason that this is an incredibly significant route in our nation’s history is because it is showcasing the history of the Cherokee people, who were forced out of their land and had to settle here in Oklahoma. As this Byway goes on, visitors have the chance to see many of the Cherokee settlements that are in this area, and there are opportunities to learn about them and what they had to go through. There is also plenty of opportunity for visitors to appreciate the natural beauty of the area as well, with multiple beautiful forests and lakes along the way.
One cannot travel along this Byway without experiencing some of the history that this area has to offer. There are so many buildings and landmarks still around today from Cherokee history and what this land was to them. While they were placed in an awful situation where they had to pick up everything and walk hundreds of miles to get to a place they had never been before, they were able to succeed and create a wonderful community. With a Capital and a courthouse, the Cherokee did not let their misfortune keep them down and they wanted to make their lives normal again. This Byway is able to capture so much of this history along the 84 miles that it covers, and visitors can leave learning a lot more about this amazing group of people. Visitors can view the history through many of the remnants of Cherokee heritage including the architecture, the museums, buildings, and much more.
While the history of the area is incredibly important and really highlights the Byway, the scenic views and beautiful landscapes are still a great reason to take the trip. Located in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains, there are absolutely wonderful sights that can be seen. This Byway runs along the pristine waters of the Illinois River and there are plenty of opportunities to experience it. All of this ties together because as you witness these natural landscapes, you can learn how important all of it was to the Cherokee as they moved into their new homes. Visitors can learn just how much the Illinois River meant to the Cherokee as they established themselves in this completely foreign area to them.
The history of this area is truly what makes it a worthwhile journey, as it is just so rich and fascinating information. Hearing the stories of these poor people being forced out of their homes, yet still battling adversity and pushing through to make lives for themselves is truly amazing. Visitors can experience all of this along the Cherokee Hills Byway, and make a lot of great memories along the way.
The Cherokee Hills Byway is located on the eastern side of Oklahoma and runs northeast to the Arkansas border. The route goes north from Tahlequah and ends at West Siloam Springs.
Points of Interest
Tahlonteeskee Cherokee Courthouse
This courthouse used to be a part of the first capital of the Cherokee nation in Indian Territory.
Cherokee Female Seminary
Built in 1847, the historic architecture of this Seminary built for the Cherokee in their new land is abolutely fascinating.
This beautiful lake which was named after a Cherokee Warrior has so much history along its shores that visitors can learn about.
Great location for bass fishing.
Experiencing Cherokee Culture
Starting in Gore and heading north along State Highway 100, you will immediately be able to experience the culture of this historic Byway. After travelling about half the length of the Byway and taking in the beautiful sights of Tenkiller Ferry Lake and the surrounding area, your first stop can be the community of Park Hill.
Park Hill has so many different sites that must be seen that honor and tell the story of the Cherokee people and how they assimilated themselves in this area. Locations like the Cherokee Heritage Center, the Cherokee National Museum, and the Cherokee Nation Tribal Complex can all be found here and experienced. From Park Hill, continue north along the Byway until you reach Tahlequah. This is another location where you can experience all of the culture that is embedded in the area. Sites like the NDN Art Gallery and the Cherokee Artist Association Gallery can be found in this city. There are also plenty of shops and locations to eat and rest so you can recharge for the remainder of your journey.
Continuing on from Tahlequah, you are going to be traveling right along the Illinois River and passing by land that has so much Cherokee culture located throughout. The local towns and villages that can be found along the way will give you great memories as well as educate you on the fascinating history of these people. Your journey ends in West Siloam Springs, where you can visit Natural Falls State Park and take in the natural beauty of the area.
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