We learned about Medicine Park from one of the million “best small town” lists we’ve read over the last couple years for Airstream trip planning purposes. The tiny, historic resort town is making a comeback from being down on its luck. It’s perched on Medicine Creek, at the foot of the Wichita Mountains, with distinctive round red cobblestones dotting many of the structures around town. The quaint main drag was quiet when we were there in January, but we could still feel the town’s charm and enjoy the natural surroundings.
We stayed at Joe’s RV Resort on Lake Lawtonka… we think. The phone number and exact location Google gave us weren’t correct, so we called Joe at the number listed on a billboard near where we were supposed to turn into the campground, and he led us to a spot away from the lake in a neighborhood of permanent trailers. It was a little bizarre, but a nice enough spot, and everyone was very friendly, especially Joe.
Hiking and Running
The best part about our odd campsite was its proximity to the back road into Medicine Park along the lake, which was a great (if a little harrowing for the cars zipping around the curves) run route! The run along the lake from the campground, around downtown, and back was a scenic four miles. Another convenient running option is across the street from the campground: the Lawtonka Trails, which unfortunately were closed for hunting season while we were in town.
Drive a little way past Medicine Park and you’ll find the windswept prairie and jumbled rock hills of the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. We hiked around Elk Mountain, sort of, but failed to find the Narrows: the maps are vague, trails are unsigned, and forks are everywhere. It’s a beautiful area, if you don’t let yourself get too frustrated by the trails, and wildlife sightings are always a bonus: we saw prairie dogs in their village by the road, and an ENORMOUS porcupine near our hiking trail.
Eating and Drinking
This article about a quick visit to Medicine Park led us to Meers Store & Restaurant, a short drive from Medicine Park. The historic, rambling wooden structure full of memorabilia is all that’s left of a gold mining town. It’s the home of Oklahoma’s best burger, AND they have their own Meers Gold beer (brewed for the restaurant by an Oklahoma brewery using a Choctaw recipe), so of course we had to visit. The burgers are made from grass-fed Longhorns the family raises on their nearby ranch, and are naturally 97% lean, so it’s a totally healthy meal, which means you can have dessert (even if you had their special fried pickles, because cucumbers are fruit). We ordered plain old (homemade and magical) ice cream, because we were intimidated by the signature dessert of cobbler a la mode we saw delivered to the next table with a MASSIVE tower of ice cream. (Uncle Jim, I think this is another place you’d love.)
In Medicine Park’s cute little downtown, most places were either closed for the season, or empty and kind of lame. We liked Park Tavern, a cool dive bar full of locals arguing about football, and stayed for a couple beers.
Lawton is the next town over from Medicine Park, and is much bigger, with grocery stores and a Walmart. We had coffee and wifi at Viridian, in the corner of a cute pharmacy/gift shop, and resupplied at Aldi and Walmart.
Medicine Park and the surrounding natural area was a unique stop and a fun way for Bugsy (and the Airstream… and me for that matter) to check off a new state. The Wichita Mountains were an unexpected delight and in our opinion the real draw of the area–along with that Meers cheeseburger!