City Escape: Tulsa, Oklahoma

Text: Bill Dragoo, Susan Dragoo • Photography: Bill Dragoo, Susan Dragoo

Historic US Route 66, an ancient old-growth forest, a world-class museum, and some quirky attractions give this day loop an eclectic appeal. Ride west across Keystone Lake and south on a twisty backroad along the Cimarron River, intersecting Route 66 in Warwick and then enjoying small-town appeal and sights of older 66 alignments on the roadside as you cruise back to Tulsa. The best times to ride are October, November, and spring.

Length

Approximately 180 miles

Meetup Spot

Gilcrease Museum, 1400 N. Gilcrease Museum Road, Tulsa, OK, just off Hwy 412 on the west side of town. 

Lunch Stop

The Rock Cafe, on Route 66, is an iconic burger joint that is said to have inspired characters in the 2006 animated film Cars. Find it at 114 W. Main Street, Stroud, OK.

Scenery (5 out of 5)

This ride takes you along country roads through the Cross Timbers forest and prairie region, through small towns, and past early Route 66 relics, including the Route 66 Interpretive Center in Chandler, an Ozark Trail obelisk on an early stretch of Route 66 near Stroud, and a picturesque 1921 steel truss bridge located just off the main highway in Sapulpa.

Difficulty (4 out of 5)

Finding the correct turn to stay on Route 66 is sometimes challenging. Otherwise, the route is easy. 

Road Conditions (3 out of 5)

The roads are mostly well-paved, two- or four-lane secondary highways. There are some brief stretches of dirt road, but they are easily navigable by most bikes and riders. One of these takes the rider to an original Ozark Trail obelisk near Stroud.

Points of Interest

1. Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa

Established in 1949 by Thomas Gilcrease, of the Muscogee Creek Nation, this museum is home to some 400,000 items representing hundreds of indigenous cultures from North and South America. The collection dates to 12,000 B.C. and includes American artworks, with an emphasis Western art. www.gilcrease.org

2. Keystone Ancient Forest, Sand Springs

Take an hourlong hike among 500-year-old cedars and 300-year-old post oak trees, and keep an eye out for American eagles, mountain lions, bobcats, dozens of butterfly species, and other wildlife. This 1,360-acre nature preserve is a classic Oklahoma “Cross Timbers” forest. www.tinyurl.com/keystone-ancient

3. Washington Irving Trail Museum, Ripley

This off-the-beaten-path museum is named for Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow author Washington Irving, who camped nearby in 1832. Exhibits spotlight Oklahoma’s past, and include Civil War and Native American artifacts and a room full of rare and unusual items. www.washingtonirvingtrailmuseum.com

4. Seaba Station Motorcycle Museum

Housed in the 1921 Seaba’s Filling Station building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this museum along Route 66 features more than 65 vintage motorcycles as well as antiques and souvenirs. It’s in Warwick, 7 miles west of Chandler. www.seabastation.com