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ot a desire to scour the woods for signs of the elusive Bigfoot or take a ride on the back of an elephant? Interested in explor- ing the great outdoors on an equestrian trail or enjoying a sunny afternoon of trout fi shing? Do hiking, rappelling or maybe even hang-gliding sound appealing to you?


Kiamichi CountryA paradise at your fingertips G


By Cathey Heddlesten


One of the main ways the Kiamichi Country As- sociation board spreads the word to potential tour- ists is through annual publication of the Southeast Oklahoma Visitor’s Guide – a slick, full-color maga- zine that includes listings of all major events occur- ring within Kiamichi Country’s 10-county area, says Bill Grant, executive director of the tourism promo- tion group.


With 26 lakes, seven mountain ranges, 10 state parks and more than one million acres spanning 10 southeastern Oklahoma counties, Kiamichi Country has something for everyone. And tourism advocates work year-round to promote the area’s natural beau- ty as well as the many festivals, attractions, shows and sporting activities available to visitors.


“We’re really proud of our magazine,” says Grant, who personally hand-delivers thousands of the visi- tor’s guides to area boat and motorcycle shops, as well as other businesses related to the travel or vaca- tion industry. “We print 100,000 copies that go to all the state information centers, chambers of com- merce, state parks, museums, and to the big sport, boat and travel shows in the central U.S. They also go


to all Choctaw Nation travel plazas covering travelers on Highways 69/75, 259 and U.S. 271 and 59.” Grant is quick to praise the Choctaw Nation – of which he is a member – for their support of Kiamichi Country’s tourism promotion efforts. “The Choctaw Nation has played a big part in our success,” he says. In addition to fi nancially support- ing publication of the Kiamichi Country Visitor’s Guide, the Indian tribe also operates numerous tour- ist-attracting casinos and sponsors a bevy of annual events that draw large crowds into the 10-county area, including the huge Labor Day Festival in Tus- kahoma.


As a result of all the intensive marketing of the area’s natural beauty and numerous recreational opportunities, Grant says a Price-Waterhouse study


Scenic Robbers Cave State Park, north of Wilbur- ton, is home to three lakes: Lake Wayne Wallace, Coon Creek Lake and Carlton Lake. Lodging in- cludes rustic cabins, campsites, RV sites and a lodge. Photo Courtesy of Robbers Cave State Park


Editor’s Note: This is the fi rst article in a series cover- ing the six countries in Oklahoma. See Page 32 for a story on Bill Grant, the executive director of the Kiamichi Country Association Board.


28 OKLAHOMA LIVING


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