We’ve compiled this list of the 20 best things to do outdoors in Pawhuska, Okla. Whether you’re in town to visit the Pioneer Woman’s Mercantile, learn about the Osage Nation, or get a glimpse of a Hollywood movie in production, there’s plenty to do outside. So if you’re looking for low-risk, socially-distanced outdoor activities – here’s where you’ll find them in and around Pawhuska.
Take a stroll at WhaZhaZhi Heritage Park
For your GPS: 602 E. Main St., Pawhuska
One of the newest things to do outdoors in Pawhuska is found at the corner of Lynn Ave. and Highway 60. Near the Veterans’ Memorial and across the street from the Osage Nation Visitor’s Center, you’ll find WhaZhaZhi Heritage Park. Opened in May of 2021 by the Osage Nation, the park features more than a mile of beautiful, paved, and fully wheelchair-accessible walking trails as well as 3/4 mile of unpaved trails.
Take a walk back through the woods and cross Bird Creek over a 200 foot-long pedestrian bridge. There, you’ll see views of Pawhuska that we didn’t know existed until the debut of the park. With birds chirping all around you, it’s a perfect place for a summer evening stroll or just to get some extra steps into your day.
Thing to do outdoors in Pawhuska since the 1920’s: Cross the swinging bridge
For your GPS: No physical address, but you can find a pin on Google Maps.
A favorite outdoor activity in Pawhuska since the 1920’s, crossing the Swinging Bridge is a rite of passage, so to speak. Head about three blocks south of The Pioneer Woman Mercantile on Kihekah Ave. and you’ll find this suspension bridge that crosses Bird Creek. Be sure to snap a photos there!
Once the only way to cross the creek in town, this bridge has thrilled (and terrified) folks for generations. The signs at the ends of the bridge tell you not to jump up and down, though locals will later ask you if you did. Cross at your own risk.
Search for bronze sculptures
For your GPS: 819 Grandview Ave., Pawhuska
Pawhuska treasures the arts, and a quick walk around town proves it. Throughout Pawhuska you’ll find number of bronze statues and sculptures, including several by famed sculptor John D. Free and his son John Free. See if you can find at least five of them. This one of Osage Chief Claremore can be found on the Osage Nation Campus at the address listed above.
View the vista from Lookout Mountain
For your GPS: Just type in Chief Fred and Julia Lookout Memorial
Head out of Pawhuska a few miles on Okesa Road and when you come to a fork in the road, keep to the right. You’ll immediately see a gravel road heading up a loooong hill. Drive up that road and you’ll be on the top of Lookout Mountain. There, you’ll find the memorial and gravesite for Chief Fred Lookout and his wife, Julia.
Take a moment and pay your respects. Then, take in the incredible, 360-degree panoramic view of Pawhuska, Bird Creek Valley, and Osage County. Watching the sun set with this view is one of our favorite things to do outdoors in Pawhuska.
Things to do outdoors in Pawhuska: Head to the Tallgrass Prairie
For your GPS: 15316 County Road 4201, Pawhuska
At 39,650 acres, the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve is the largest protected remnant of native tallgrass prairie on earth. With about 2,500 free-ranging bison, any visitor to the preserve has a good chance of spotting one or more of these majestic creatures.
If you go, please remember the three rules for bison viewing the prairie conservancy has: 1. Stay in your car. 2. Stay in your car. 3. Stay in your car. In addition to being incredibly beautiful animals, bison are speedy, large, powerful and a little unpredictable. No human on earth can outrun them. Follow the rules.
Hike the Prairie Earth Trail
For your GPS: 15316 County Road 4201, Pawhuska
Anyone who is looking for outdoor things to do in Pawhuska should consider taking a hike on a beautiful trail. The Tallgrass Prairie Preserve is also home to three easy trails, including the Prairie Earth Trail and is accessible year round. At the start of the trail, you can pick up a brochure that will help you interpret all that you’re seeing along the way. Gain insight and understanding of the prairie ecosystem as you take your two-mile hike. Read more about the trail on our blog HERE.
Scale the steps to the Osage County Courthouse
For your GPS: 527 Kihekah Ave., Pawhuska
Need to burn off a few extra calories after indulging in buttery biscuits from The Mercantile? Run some steps. Two long sets of stairs grace downtown Pawhuska. If you start at the steps at 6th and Kihekah, 129 steps will take you to the top of the hill to the courthouse.
While you’re up there, take in the commanding view of downtown Pawhuska and surrounding area. Catch your breath, and remember the 129 steps are much easier heading down. You’ll burn about a calorie and a half for every 10 steps you climb.
Visit the Blessed Kateri Shrine of the West
For your GPS: 1314 Lynn Ave., Pawhuska
A shrine in the honor of Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American to be canonized as a saint, sits in the garden on the south side the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. In 2012, Pope Benedict XVI canonized her. She is the patroness of ecology and environment, people in exile, and Native Americans. The gardens there are a peaceful place to take a deep breath, count your blessings, and pray.
Things to do outdoors in Pawhuska: go camping
For your GPS: 2131 Osage Hills Park Road, Pawhuska
Located about 15 miles from Pawhuska, the 1,100 acre Osage Hills State Park offers a variety outdoor recreation opportunities like camping, hiking, fall foliage viewing, and fishing for bass, crappie, catfish, and perch. In the park, there are sites for tent camping and RV parking.
There are also eight cabins available for rent. With a pool, ball field, and tennis court, this park has something for everyone. Also, you might see whitetail deer, armadillo, or wild turkey!
Pay your respects
For your GPS: 600 W. 11th, Pawhuska
The cemeteries in and around Pawhuska are quite historic and worth a visit. The Pawhuska City Cemetery in town is where Oscar-winning actor Ben Johnson Jr. is buried. The local cemetery also has unique grave markers and mausoleums.
Enjoy an ice cream outside
For your GPS: 515 Kihekah Ave., Pawhuska
Charlie’s Sweet Shop has benches outside and is a great place to indulge in sweet and creamy Tillamook ice cream. Ree Drummond’s ice cream and candy shop, named after her beloved dog, Charlie, serves ice cream in dishes and cones. Be sure to also check out their scrumptious sundaes. We recommend the Bakery Blast, made with freshly made baked goods from The Mercantile across the street. You can also get ice cream at Sonic, McDonalds, the freezer section at Hometown Foods (we recommend the Blue Bell Cookies-n-Cream).
Remember those who served
For your GPS: 602 E. Main St. | 627 Grandview Ave., Pawhuska
Visit the Pawhuska, Oklahoma, Veterans Memorial at the southeast corner of Main Street and Lynn Avenue which pays tribute to local veterans who served. Take a moment to reflect on the sacrifices of those who have given so much for our nation and freedom.
Once done there, head up the hill to the Osage Nation Campus and visit the Osage Nation Veterans Memorial to remember all the Osages who have served in the United States military. A large feather stands in the center of the memorial, which is located near the Osage Nation Museum at 627 Grandview Ave.
Search for a Geocache
Geocaching is one of the great things to do outdoors in Pawhuska or anywhere. In fact, there are more than 80 Geocaches placed within a 10-mile radius of Pawhuska. Use the Geocaching app on your phone to search for hidden treasures like one called “Just a Swingin’” with the following clues:
- Stay on the trail. No need to bushwack for this one.
- The cache is now a magnetic key holder. Bring your own pencil! You can approach from the North or the South, but I recommend the North. Parking is within feet of the cache from this direction.
- If you get seasick, definitely approach from the North!
PIN FOR LATER
See the significance of the Million Dollar Elm
For your GPS: 627 Granview Ave., Pawhuska
The “Million Dollar Elm” was the place the Osages auctioned off leases for companies to drill for oil in the early 1900’s. Millions of dollars changed hands under this tree, and there was even an occasional fistfight when a patch of ground was seen as super-profitable.
While the tree is no longer there, a monument marks the place that played such an important role in America’s and the Osages’ history and it is worth a visit.
Things to do outdoors in Pawhuska: Watch a sunset
For your GPS: Face west
Honestly, some of the most beautiful sunsets in Oklahoma can be found right here in the Osage. And the best part is that with all the open space, you can get a fantastic view from just about anywhere.
So just pause for a few minutes, take a deep breath, look west, and enjoy one of the most spectacular and colorful shows around. You’ll quickly see why it’s one of our favorite things to do outdoors in Pawhuska.
Things to do outdoors in Pawhuska: Have a picnic in the park
For your GPS: 2501 Grandview Ave. | 700 Lynn Ave., Pawhuska
Grab some takeout from one of Pawhuska’s great restaurants, and head up to Williams Park or the park area behind the Osage County Historical Society Museum. There, you’ll find picnic tables and plenty of green space for kids to play.
And if you’re traveling with kids, they can take a minute, play on the equipment, and burn off a little of their extra energy. Picnic tables are also available at the Tallgrass Prairie and Osage State Park even has some shelters.
Taste Indian Tacos in October
For your GPS: 523 Kihekah Ave., Pawhuska
The first Saturday in October is when the National Indian Taco Championships are held in Pawhuska each year. Stroll the streets of downtown Pawhuska while tasting a variety of Indian tacos at this outdoor festival. You an also shop at outdoor vendor booths and take in the Native American dances that happen in the street.
Things to do outdoors in Pawhuska: Play a round of disc golf
For your GPS: 22005 OK 99, Pawhuska
With two pro-level disc golf courses (including the #1 course in the state) and soon to be a total of five courses overall, Pawhuska is quite the destination for disc golf enthusiasts as well as those new to the game. The city maintains a public disc golf course in Williams Park and the Pawhuska Golf course, and the Osage Nation is putting one in as well. The real action, however, takes place a few miles south of town at The Lodge at Taylor Ranch.
There they have two tournament level courses including one hole on which players must throw to an island green. Taylor Ranch also offers fishing, and hiking trails as well as you-pick sand plums and blackberries.
Snap a fun photo: one of many fun things to do outdoors in Pawhuska
For your GPS: 134 E. Main Street, Pawhuska
Out in front of the World Famous Buckin’ Flamingo on Main St., you’ll find a bunch of unique props to use to take a fun photo souvenir from downtown Pawhuska. Don’t be shy! Step on up and create a lasting memory from your trip to Pawhuska.
The Buckin’ Flamingo isn’t the only place for a photo memory. Look for the bright red, antique Drummond Ranch truck often parked in front of The Mercantile. And there are sometimes even more fun props near the Historic Whiting Hotel as you head north on Kihekah Ave.
Appreciate the architecture and stay awhile
For your GPS: 1617 Revard Ave., Pawhuska
While in town, be sure to drive around some of the neighborhoods in Pawhuska. You’ll find a variety of homes and unique architecture. Many old homes built in the early 1900s have now been restored and renovated into Airbnb home shares. To book an Airbnb in Pawhuska like ours called Postcard Place, CLICK HERE
Get a glimpse of a Hollywood movie production
Lastly, be sure to get a glimpse of the big Hollywood movie production that is happening in Pawhuska in the summer of 2021. Scenes for a movie based on David Grann’s best-selling book, “Killers of the Flower Moon” are being shot right here in Pawhuska. The movie, which is directed by Martin Scorsese and stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert DeNiro, and Lily Gladstone is currently in production.
For an even more comprehensive list of things to do in Pawhuska, click HERE.