Encompassing the Oklahoma panhandle, Red Carpet Country is named after the northwestern region’s rich red soil and looming mesas. As part of the southwestern tablelands that extend from Colorado to New Mexico, Red Carpet Country’s rugged canyons and sweeping plains are reminiscent of classic Western films, reminding visitors of the pioneers, cattle drivers and Native Americans that once navigated the terrain.
At Black Mesa State Park, groups can hike to the highest point in the state on Black Mesa. At Alabaster Caverns State Park, the largest gypsum cave in the world is open to the public. This expansive cavern is nearly a mile long and is composed of alabaster, a rare form of gypsum. Visitors can follow a guided tour or explore at their leisure.
In Ponca City, the Pioneer Woman Museum in Ponca City celebrates women who braved the rugged terrain of the American Frontier, as well as women throughout history who served as pioneers in their field.
Cowboy culture is alive and well in Guymon, also known as the Saddle Bronc Capital of the World. This year, Guymon celebrates its 85th annual Pioneer Days Rodeo, where thousands gather to enjoy trail rides, Western-style dance, period clothing and handcrafted goods. Later in the fall, the colorful and award-winning Azuma Festival commemorates African culture and cuisine with exotic dishes from Ethiopia, South Sudan and Eretria.
In addition to bearing the state’s highest peak, Black Mesa State Park is also known for its low light pollution, making it an optimal star-gazing destination. Every year in September, the Oklahoma City Astronomy Club hosts the Okie-Tex Star Party, a weeklong, catered camping excursion under the sweeping, clear skies of the tablelands.
A 55-room castle in Ponca City called the E.W. Marland Estate is modeled after the Davanzati Palace in Florence, Italy. The site is a National Historic Landmark.
For more information go to www.redcarpetcountry.com.