Oklahoma offers more than 10 ecoregions. One of those covers most of western Oklahoma, and that’s where you're in for a thrill ride at a state park that's constantly moving. If you're traveling to Waynoka, Oklahoma, northeast of Woodward, chances are you're here for one reason - Little Sahara State Park.
Visitors tell us it’s all about the sand and the riding. Sand dunes up to 75 feet high fill the landscape transporting you, it seems, to another part of the world. So how did these dunes get to the Sooner State?
The Park’s Director, Greg Grimsley, says thousands of years ago the Cimarron River was flowing through here. And when it eventually receded to where its banks are today, it left behind all the sand and sediment. And that's how we have Little Sahara State Park. And while other states do have dunes, Oklahoma still stands out.
"We are the farthest east where you can ride ATVs - four-wheelers," Grimsley says.
Riders are welcome on the dunes, in regulation vehicles, 24 hours a day. You might prefer the wooded paths or the bumpy, mogul-like trails known as the "whoops." Another option is to get out in the open on the towering, shifting sand piles.
Rod Koscheski has been riding here 22 years and still remembers the first time.
"Never saw anything like this in Oklahoma. And we were hooked and we've been coming out here ever since," Koscheski says. "Our kids came out here, and now our grandkids are coming out here."
And you don't have to have ATVs to have fun. Matthew Thornton, from Wynona, says he likes to dig for treasures.
“One time I found the thing on the steering wheel of a Razor," he says.
His mother, Stacie Thornton, has found community.
"We've made a lot of friends, and I'm able to trust my kids with them," she says.
Grimsley says the Oklahoma wind shifts the dunes about a foot north every year. That makes what turns a flat run one day - into a multi-story-drop two weeks later.
"You have to come see it at least once," Grimsley tells us. “After that, you make that decision. But you have to come see it at least once."