It'd be hard to find a single Lawton resident that didn't know about the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, but I bet it'd be even harder to find a single Lawton resident that knew about the Wichita Mountain Scenic Byway. It's official, listed with the .gov's and probably the best kept secret in Southwest Oklahoma.

Fair warning... You'll be doing some driving.

Scenic byways are all across the United States. In fact, Oklahoma has eight of them. The most famous known outside the state is of course Route 66 which sweeps through the plains, the most famous in the state might be the Talimena Scenic Byway that Okies flock to in the fall to see some of the most photogenic and natural seasonal colors in the state.

If you've driven through the refuge in the fall, you already know it pretty much just turns brown. But did you know there's a designated route to drive to see all of the wonder and beauty our mountains have to offer? Sure, it'll take you through the refuge roads, but it will also take you along the mountains to the north. As I've experienced in traveling, the best way to see the mountains' beauty is from afar looking in.

Don't get me wrong, I love walking around and hiking the mountains like most, but to really see the full glory of it, you have to do it from a distance. It's that "Can't see the forest for the trees" thing.

The official route straight from the Federal Highway Administration can be a little confusing... Especially if you try to read the directions, you know how governmental technical writing goes... but the map they provide is also misleading. You're not expected to travel the full path, but rather their map contains all the entry points of access too, so it looks a little jumbled.

The map provided by Google Maps on the other hand is pretty straightforward. You can either start at the top of the map and work your way back to the refuge, or enter the refuge from Cache and head towards Gotebo.

Turkey Pass is on the map as a start/finish point, but I don't think I've ever seen that road open to the public before. Being located behind the fence, I'm pretty sure you need a special use pass just to get out there.... but still, no matter how many times you've seen the refuge, the grand scheme of seeing the mountains as a whole is so much better.

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