The City of Heavener is located in the heart of beautiful Southeastern Oklahoma. From world class fishing and hunting, to beautiful scenery, activities and events, we welcome you with open arms to our little piece of heaven on Earth.

Runestone State Park

18365 Runestone Rd
Heavener, OK 74937
Phone: 918-653-2241
Fax: 918-653-3435

A Relic of Vikings in Oklahoma?
One of the most unusual historic sites in the South can be found on a mountainside in Oklahoma. Some believe that Vikings came here more than 1,000 years ago and left a sign of their passing carved on the face of a massive boulder.
The huge rock, now called the Heavener Runestone, is the centerpiece of a park in Heavener, Oklahoma.

To say that the theory of Vikings roaming around prehistoric Oklahoma is controversial would be putting it mildly. The scientific community does not consider the Heavener Runestone an authentic artifact of the Viking era. Others, however, firmly believe that the mysterious carving is more than 1,000 years old.

Public attention was first brought to the Heavener Runestone decades ago by the late Mrs. Gloria Farley. She heard of the unusual inscriptions and arranged for a local guide to take her to the site. After consulting with students of ancient languages, Mrs. Farley became convinced that the carving had been left by ancient Norse explorers.

One of the leading diffusionists (people who believe in travel to the Americas by other cultures prior to Columbus) of her time, Mrs. Farley went on to write a book outlining her theories about the Heavener Runestone and other mysterious carvings around the country.

Mrs. Farley and her supporters came to believe that the inscription on the stone could be interpreted to read "Glomesdal" or "Valley of Glome." Glome, they theorized, was a viking explorer who claimed the little ravine of his own centuries ago.

Others firmly disagree. The symbols carved on the rock are indeed runes, but their meaning is as disputed as their origin. The carvings can also be interpreted to read"Gnonesdal" or "Valley of the Gnomes," and in fact the beautiful mountain ravine at Heavener RUnestone State Park looks much like the kind of place where our ancestors believed gnomes (small mythical beings) could be found.

Could the carving have been left by Vikings roaming around eastern Oklahoma centuries ago or does it date from more recent times? It depends on who you ask. Archaeologists point out that no verifiable Norse artifiacts have ever been found in Oklahoma. Those who believe in the runestone's authenticity, however, point out that a series of similar
carvings have been found in the area.

Whatever the truth, the Heavener Runestone is a unique cultural artifact that adds a great deal of mystique to the beautiful mountain.

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Talimena Scenic Byway

The Talimena Scenic Drive has now been designated a National Scenic Byway as part of the American Byways Program.

The Talimena Scenic Byway is a 54-mile stretch of highway, cresting Rich Mountain and Winding Stair Mountain . It offers breathtaking vistas, each one more spectacular than the last. Information stations are at each end of the drive, Mena is Arkansas and near Talihina in Oklahoma , provide vintage Southern hospitality.

It is also the crown jewel of an entire region full of fun things to do for families, sportsmen, adventure seekers or anyone that enjoys nature's incredible beauty. While the drive itself is spectacular, it passes through a much larger area filled with unique opportunities and experiences. This area of western Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma offers scenic beauty, outdoor adventure and enlightening historical and educational experiences that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Peak fall colors season in the Ouachita National Forest usually begins the third week in October through the middle of November.

Visitors can enjoy canoeing, whitewater rafting, trout fishing and hang gliding or learn about Native Americans, the Civil War and even Viking explorers!

Historical sites along the route divulge a past when early settlers of the young state of Arkansas and the Choctaw Tribe in Indian Territory struggled to wrest a life from the harsh land. Campgrounds and picnic areas are available. The drive begins approximately 41 miles southwest of Heavener on Highway 271.

Cedar Lake

Located within the Ouachita National Forest and trees and mountains form the backdrop for this picturesque lake. Cedar Lake is 90 acres and accommodates fishing, boating (up to 7.5 hp) and two swim beaches from mid-May to October.

Long Lake Resort

Fishing and Fun!

Long Lake Resort, LLC
35740 U.S. Highway 59 S
Poteau, OK 74953-4212

Resort activities

Fishing and Boat Rentals

We own two private, natural lakes - Long Lake and Terrell Lake - each lake is around 45 to 50 acres. And naturally stocked full of largemouth bass, crappie, sunfish, catfish and all fish native to Oklahoma waters. Free Bank Fishing with all Lodging Rentals. We also offer complete fishing trips, including boat, motor and tackle.

You can never say the “big one that got away” here at Long Lake!
Our lakes are stocked and ready for a “MAX'D OUT” fishing adventure an experience outdoorsman or a “little guy” wanting to catch his first fish!
We have boats and gear if you need it! As our slogan says, “We make memories”… and catching that special fish, with that special person is a GREAT way to do it!

Hiking Trails

Enjoy a casual stroll along the banks of both of our lakes and scenic mountain views overlooking Long Lake Resort. We have approximately 5 miles of hiking trails that include varying types of terrain. You are sure to enjoy spotting the many types of wildlife here at Long Lake. There are many convenient trailhead locations around the resort allowing easy access to the trails. Our trails are great for mountain biking too! Trail maps are available inside the office.

Horseback Riding Trails

Enjoy a casual ride along the banks of both of our lakes and scenic mountain views overlooking Long Lake Resort. We have approximately 5 miles of riding trails that include varying types of terrain. You are sure to enjoy spotting the many types of wildlife here at Long Lake. There are many convenient trailhead locations around the resort allowing easy access to the trails. Our well maintained trails offer many different opportunities to walk, trot and canter your horse if you wish. Other areas of the trails are more challenging and are recommended for experienced riders only, but don't worry, we have less difficult trails that by-pass our rugged terrain. Trail maps are available inside the office.

Our guided trail rides include the use of our horses and tack. A trail guide will lead you and your group through our trails at a comfortable pace. No one will be asked to ride beyond their own comfort levels. A lead line and riding helmets are available upon request. There is a 2 person, 2 hour minimum for all guided rides. Advance notice is required for all guided trail rides. Call now to schedule your ride!

Enjoy our trails all day long or for just a few hours from the comfort of your own horse. Great for riding clubs or any number of people that need a place to put some miles in their saddle. We have stalls available for our overnight guests to keep their horses. Take advantage of staying in our luxurious cabins and duplexes or hook your horse trailer with living quarters up to one of our full service RV Park sites.

Feel free to bring your own horses to take advantage of our specialty rides and events. Go to “Specialty Rides” for more details.


Ouachita National Forest

Ouachita National Forest
100 Reserve Street
P.O. Box 1270
Hot Springs, AR 71902
Phone: (501) 321-5202
Fax: (501) 321-5305

Contact us

The Ouachita National Forest covers 1.8 million acres in central Arkansas and southeastern Oklahoma. Headquartered in Hot Springs, Arkansas, the forest is managed for multiple uses, including timber and wood production, watershed protection and improvement, habitat for wildlife and fish species (including threatened and endangered ones), wilderness area management, minerals leasing, and outdoor recreation. Enjoy camping, hiking, biking, scenic driving, trail riding, water recreation, fishing, hunting, and more!


So Much To Do & See!

The Ouachita National Forest is located primarily in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas and Oklahoma. Outstanding mountain views coupled with picturesque streams, rivers, and lakes provide a unique and highly valued setting for outdoor recreation. The forest offers high quality nature related-sightseeing, scenic driving, hunting, fishing, and dispersed camping. Learn about the areas rich history at wayside exhibits along a scenic drive or experience unique botanical, mineral, and prehistoric resources featured in information and educational programs. An extensive trail system provides for all types of uses including hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and off-highway vehicles (OHV) riding. A variety of services can be found at developed campgrounds ranging from rustic tent pads to full-service RV hookups. Enjoy exceptional water-based recreation opportunities including fishing, non-motorized boating, and passive enjoyment of streams, rivers and lakes.

Charlton Recreation Area

Portions of Charlton Recreation Area have reopened. The campground, located 20 miles west of Hot Springs, was closed in early 2011 when heavy rains and flooding caused major damage in the area.

Loop A, previously opened only when the remainder of the campground was full, and Loop C are both now open for overnight camping. Loop A is most often used by primitive camping enthusiasts, while Loop C offers amenities such as electricity, water and sewer. The Day Use area is also open.

Picnic, swim, hike, fish and camp along picturesque Walnut Creek, a cold, spring-fed mountain stream in the heart of the Ouachita National Forest. This historic recreation area features a captivating native stone dam that forms the swimming area and rustic bathhouse built by the Civilian Conservation Corps federal work program in 1935.

Shady Lake

Scenic 25-acre lake in remote mountain setting.The Civilian Conservation Corps developed the Shady Lake Recreation Area in 1937. The Shady Lake Trail traverses Saline Creek and passes the historic Shady Lake Dam. It continues along the eastern edge of the campground. The trail is ideal for day hiking. Mountain bikers may also use the trail.

Shortleaf Pine/Bluestem Renewal

Shortleaf Pine/Bluestem Grass Ecosystem Renewal in the Ouachita Mountains

George A. Bukenhofer
USDA Forest Service
Heavener, Oklahoma

L. D. Hedrick
USDA Forest Service
Hot Springs, Arkansas

Presettlement and Current Ecological Conditions

The 8 million-acre (3,237,600 ha) Ouachita mountain physiographic region is located in west central Arkansas and southeastern Oklahoma. The mountains are east to west trending and range in elevation from 500 to 2,700 feet (150-820 in). Travelers in this region prior to European settlement described the landscape as dominated by pine ( Pinus echinata ), pine-hardwood and mixed-oak ( Quercus spp. ) forest communities with fire-dependent and floristically rich grass and forb understories (Du Pratz 1774, Nuttal 1821, Featherstonhaugh 1844). Large grazing herbivores including elk ( Cervus elaphus ), bison ( Bison bison ) and white-tailed deer ( Odocoileus virginianus ) found suitable habitat there (Smith and Neal 1991). Fire return intervals averaged less than 10 years for most sites (Masters et al. 1995). Tree densities averaged 170 trees per acre (420/ha), and the mean diameter was 11.4 inches (29 cm) (Kreiter 1995).

Today the Ouachita mountain landscape is still dominated by forests, but the structure and composition of these forests have changed dramatically. The density of trees has increased to 200 to 250 trees per acre (494-618/ha) and the mean diameter is now 9 inches (23 cm) (Kreiter 1995). Understories are now dominated by woody vegetation and certain once-dominant grasses and forbs are uncommon (Fenwood et al. 1984, Masters 1991, Sparks 1996). Elk and bison have been extirpated. Other species, such as Bachman's sparrow ( Aimophila aestivalis ) and the brown-headed nuthatch ( Sitta pusilla ), have been affected negatively by habitat loss (Jackson 1988) and the red-cockaded woodpecker (RCW) (Picoides borealis) is endangered (Neal and Montague 1991). Average fire return intervals now range from 40 to more than 1,200 years (Masters et al. 1995).

Historical and present-day ecological communities of the 1.7 million-acre (690,000 ha) Ouachita National Forest (ONF) are illustrative of the above descriptions. Present day forests developed largely in response to two factors: commercial exploitation of the original forests and suppression of fires. Large-scale harvest of trees commenced in the 1910s and by 1940 most of the virgin forests had been cut (Smith 1986). With USDA Forest Service (FS) stewardship, the period of forest regeneration that followed was marked by a strict policy of wildfire suppression. That policy has largely remained in effect to the present. The recent use of prescribed fire by managers, averaging 25,000 acres (10,100 ha) annually over the last decade (R. Miller personal communication: 1995), has been insufficient to maintain a woodland (i.e., tree/grass) ecosystem. The result is that such ecosystems have all but disappeared from the Ouachita mountain landscape (Foti and Glenn 1991).

Desired Ecological Condition in the Context of a Contemporary Landscape

National forest lands are now subject to the philosophy of ecosystem management. Ecosystem management has been variously defined, but most definitions have two attributes in common: an overriding goal to protect ecosystem integrity, sometimes called ecosystem health, and an allowance for human uses that do not compromise ecosystem integrity. The following are key elements of a large-scale ecosystem management project on the ONF to restore the shortleaf pine-bluestem grass ecosystem on 155,010 acres (62,730 ha), and in the process provide sufficient habitat for a recovered population of the endangered RCW and a sustainable supply of wood products (FS 1996).

Elements of Ecosystem Management

Increasing the use of prescribed fire and using tree cutting to simulate natural disturbance patterns . Reduction of basal area is accomplished by commercial thinning. Stand regeneration is accomplished by commercial timber sales using irregular seed tree and irregular shelterwood methods. With either regeneration method, some of the seed trees are retained indefinitely. The size of prescribed burning units encompasses landscapes rather than smaller stand-sized blocks. The average size of prescribed burning units has increased from 200 to 600 acres (81-243 ha), with some units as large as 8,000 acres (3,230 ha) (R. Miller personal communication: 1997). In the past, most prescribed burning occurred during the dormant season from October to March. We now include some burning during the growing season to emulate fire patterns described in Foti and Glenn (1991) and Masters et al. (1995).

Using a modified control strategy for wildfires. Traditional FS policy has been to suppress all wildfires and minimize the area burned regardless of whether the fire was beneficial to resources. We found that a modified control strategy for wildfires, which recognizes that some wildfires are beneficial and should be allowed to burn, helps increase the area affected by fire each year. In those instances where wildfires are burning within prescription, occurring in areas determined to be desirable and not threatening human safety or property, willdfires can be allowed to burn to the nearest man-made or natural barrier. This change is an example of "FIRE 2 1," a new effort initiated by FS leadership to embrace the changing responsibilities in wildland fire management in the 21st century (Apicello 1996). Goals for FIRE 21 include contributing to restoring, maintaining and sustaining ecosystem function for healthier forests and rangelands, and integrating wildland fire management concerns and the role of fire into all agency management programs, where appropriate.

Increasing rotation age . The minimum time between regeneration cutting, or rotation age, has been increased from 70 to 120 years for shortleaf pine forest types. This allows for a greater number of acres of older trees and results in increased mast production from hardwoods retained in these pine stands. The older trees are also required for RCW and other cavity-dependent species. Cavity development is associated with a fungal heart rot ( Phellinus pinii ) infection that usually does not occur in stands less than 70 years of age.

Maintaining mixtures of native pines and hardwoods . An important part of the restoration process is to replace non-native trees when possible and retain mixtures of pines and hardwoods on the landscape both among and within stands. Retention of mast-producing trees has been a significant issue for the ONF

Developing and maintaining forested linkages among mature forest habitats . Minimizing ecotonal differences between contiguous stands and reducing habitat fragmentation is important to many bird species. Each timber harvest proposal is examined for ways to keep forest regeneration localized, which maximizes the size of areas that support mature stands. We have increased the size of regeneration areas from 40 to 80 acres (16-32 ha). Because the total amount of regeneration per year or decade is fixed by the rotation age, achieving it on fewer, larger areas rather than many smaller areas reduces the total edge between dissimilar conditions. This also maximizes the area of contiguous mature habitat.

Recognizing that people are an important part of this ecosystem. Traditional uses of forest, such as timber harvesting, hunting, firewood gathering, bird watching and fishing, continue while we work to restore ecological (historical) conditions. No special limitations are placed on the public while using the area. Project planning incorporates local values through an extensive public involvement program. Information from monitoring the effects of restoration has been gathered through close collaboration with university researchers. Detailed information is used to monitor the effectiveness of our projects and guide the restoration effort.

Assessing Ecological Health

There are three areas by which the ONF can measure success at attaining ecosystem health. Biodiversity, recreation opportunities and timber supplies are used as "yardsticks" because all were significant issues in recent planning efforts.


Wilson et al. (1995) examined the breeding bird response to this restoration effort. They found that 10 species of ground/shrub-foraging species (yellow-breasted chat [ Icteria virens ], brown-headed cowbird [ Molothrus ater ], Carolina wren [ Thryothorus ludovicianus ), northern cardinal [ Cardinal cardinalis ], wild turkey [ Meleagris gallipavo ], indigo bunting [ Passerina cyanea ], northern bobwhite [ Colinus virginianus ], chipping sparrow [ Spizella passerina ]) and shrub nesting species (American goldfinch [ Caruelis tristis ], prairie warbler [ Dendroica discolor ]) were favored by thinning and prescribed burning, as compared with controls. Two ground-nesting species, the ovenbird ( Seiuris aurocapillus ) and black-and-white warbler ( Mniotilta varia ), declined in the same restoration areas. Small mammals were found to have increased in numbers and species on the same restored sites (Lochmiller et al. 1993). Sparks (1996) found that prescribed burning produced higher herbaceous species richness and diversity, and forb and legume abundance in the project area.

Recreation Opportunities

Outdoor recreationists, including hunters and bird watching enthusiasts, are attracted to these restored lands. In A Birder's Guide to Arkansas, White (1995) featured the project area as a unique opportunity to view RCW, brown-headed nuthatch and Bachman's sparrow. Discussing the decline of the northern bobwhite, Brennan (1991) provided some evidence that the forest-management techniques used here (reduction of tree basal area, reduction of midstory and prescribed burning every one to three years) resulted in higher bobwhite numbers. Masters et al. (1996) examined whitetailed deer forage production on the project area. They found that restoration efforts increased preferred deer forage sixfold.

Timber Supply

Timber harvesting is an essential part of these restoration efforts. The environmental impact statement for the FS long-term strategy for RCW recovery (USDA 1995) in the Southern Region concluded that this region-wide restoration effort would result in a gradual long-term increase of timber supplies after an initial decline. The ONF implementation of this strategy, because of favorable age class distribution, projected that timber harvest volumes would remain constant in the next two decades, and decline slightly from 29.2 to 27.5 million cubic feet of wood by the fifth decade (Bukenhofer et al. 1994). The decline in long-term sustained yield is largely a function of increasing the rotation age from 70 to 120 years.

Other Considerations

Another measure of ecosystem health is the potential for reintroduction of extirpated species. The elk has been successfully reintroduced to three nearby locales, the Buffalo National River in northern Arkansas, and the Pushmataha and Cookson Hills wildlife management areas in eastern Oklahoma. Earlier attempts at reintroduction failed due to brain worm ( Parelaphostrongylus tenuis ) infestation (Carpenter 1973). Recent studies (Raskevitz 199 1) determined that the intermediate hosts for the brain worm were snails (Gastropidae) that were dependent on moist forest conditions where tree densities were high, including a well-developed mid-story. They found that elk preferred habitat that included open, drier forest conditions unfavorable to the snails, and this preference yielded elk with no clinical signs of brain worm infestation. In the future, we expect that the drier forest conditions provided by shortleaf pine/bluestem grass ecosystem renewal will supply a sufficient quantity of suitable habitat capable of supporting a reintroduction of elk in the ONF.


The most influential laws relating to and governing FS land management activities include the Multiple Use-Sustained Yield Act, Endangered Species Act, National Forest Management Act, Clean Water Act and, to a lesser extent, the Clean Air Act. For many, these laws present conflicting direction and create an insurmountable operational, regulatory and judicial tangle.

All of these laws predate direction issued by FS Chief Dale Robertson to Regional Foresters in June 1992 in which he admonished them to follow a philosophy of ecosystem management in their stewardship of national forest lands. All of these legal mandates remain in full force. Collectively, these laws can be summarized as requiring that national forests be managed to allow for sustainable human uses, both economic and non-economic, without compromising land health. The role of the ecosystem management policy adopted by the FS is to provide a single, all-inclusive philosophical context for management that integrates the spirit and letter of these laws. It puts sustaining land health first. We think this is appropriate, for over the long term, it will be impossible to sustain human uses without first sustaining the health of the land.

Our project is one example of ecosystem management. It embodies elements of landscape ecology, restoration ecology and endangered species recovery. It seeks to restore an entire ecosystem on portions of today's Ouachita mountain landscape. This is not so much because the landscape was prominent in pre-European settlement times, but rather because it had almost disappeared along with its unique flora and fauna. The project is mindful of Aldo Leopold's (1949) famous dictum that saving all parts and pieces of the ecosystem is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering. At least in this case, we have demonstrated that managing for ecosystem integrity (health) need not result in significant reductions in timber resources for traditional human uses. This, coupled with the increased recreation opportunities enumerated above, is a "win win" situation.