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Oklahoma is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. Oklahoma is the 20th most extensive and the 28th most populous of the 50 United States. The state's name is derived from the Choctaw words okla and humma, meaning "red people", and it is known informally by its nickname, The Sooner State.
Oklahoma covers an area of 181,035 km2, with 177,847 km2 of land and 3,188 km2 of water. It is one of six states on the Frontier Strip, and lies partly in the Great Plains near the geographical center of the 48 contiguous states. Arkansas and Missouri bound it on the east, on the north by Kansas, on the northwest by Colorado, on the far west by New Mexico, and on the south by Texas.
Oklahoma is between the Great Plains and the Ozark Plateau in the Gulf of Mexico watershed, generally sloping from the high plains of its western boundary to the low wetlands of its southeastern boundary. Its highest and lowest points follow this trend, with its highest peak, Black Mesa, at 1,516 metres above sea level, situated near its far northwest corner in the Oklahoma Panhandle. The state's lowest point is on the Little River near its far southeastern boundary near the town of Idabel, which dips to 88 metres above sea level.
Oklahoma has four primary mountain ranges: the Ouachita Mountains, the Arbuckle Mountains, the Wichita Mountains, and the Ozark Mountains. Contained within the U.S. Interior Highlands region, the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains mark the only major mountainous region between the Rocky Mountains and the Appalachians. The semi-arid high plains in the state’s northwestern corner harbor few natural forests; the region has a rolling to flat landscape with intermittent canyons and mesa ranges like the Glass Mountains.
Oklahoma is located in a temperate region and experiences occasional extremes of temperature and precipitation typical of a continental climate. Most of the state lies in an area known as Tornado Alley characterized by frequent interaction between cold and warm air masses producing severe weather. An average 54 tornadoes strike the state per year - one of the highest rates in the world.
Because of Oklahoma's position between zones of differing prevailing temperature and winds, weather patterns within the state can vary widely between relatively short distances and can change drastically in a short time. As an example, on November 11, 1911, the temperature at Oklahoma City reached 28 °C) in the afternoon, then an incoming squall line resulted in a drop to -8 °C at midnight (the record low for that date). As a result, both the record high and record low for November 11 were set on the same day.
All of the state frequently experiences temperatures above 38 °C or below -18 °C, and snowfall ranges from an average of less than 10 centimetres in the south to just over 50 centimetres on the border of Colorado in the panhandle. Oklahoma's highest recorded temperature of 49 °C was recorded at Tipton on June 27, 1994 and the lowest recorded temperature of -35 °C was recorded at Nowata on February 10, 2011.
The humid subtropical climate of the eastern part of Oklahoma is influenced heavily by southerly winds bringing moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, but transitions progressively to a semi-arid zone in the high plains of the Panhandle and other western areas from about Lawton westward less frequently touched by southern moisture. Precipitation and temperatures fall from east to west accordingly, with areas in the southeast averaging an annual temperature of 17 °C and an annual rainfall of 1,420 mm, while areas of the panhandle average 14 °C, with an annual rainfall under 430 mm.
Two airports in Oklahoma serve about the same number of flights and people.
Will Rogers World Airport (OKC) near Oklahoma City has flights to/from Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Salt Lake City, Detroit, Memphis, Minneapolis, Denver, Baltimore, Houston, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Phoenix, St. Louis, Orlando, Cleveland, Newark, San Francisco and Washington, D.C..
Tulsa International Airport (TUL) offers flights to/from Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Atlanta, Detroit, Memphis, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, Denver, Houston, Las Vegas, Phoenix, St. Louis, Newark, Washington, D.C..
The Heartland Flyer between Fort Worth and Oklahoma City.
Check Greyhound buses for options.
Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.
For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.
Oklahoma has a number of National Scenic Byways which offer a great way to explore the state crossing beautiful landscapes. Mostly, there are lots of national parks, state parks or monuments along the way and it's generally a better alternative than the faster but boring Interstate Highways.
Check Greyhound buses for options.
Oklahoma food has two main influences, both imported from neighboring regions:
Oklahoma's agricultural strengths are in cattle ranching and wheat farming, and the popularity of beef and carbohydrate-rich foods reflects this. As a landlocked state, seafood is available only if it's flown or trucked in. Deep-fried catfish is the most popular fish, and some restaurants raise their own to be certain of freshness. Especially in the eastern half of the state, which gets more rain, you can get locally grown produce normally associated with southern states, such as peaches, watermelons, and pecans during the appropriate seasons.
Sweet drinks, including both sodas (also called "pop") and fruit juice, are popular. "Coke" is used as a generic term, rather than an indication of a Coca-cola brand soft drink. If someone offers you a coke, they may then ask you whether you would prefer a Dr. Pepper or a Pepsi. Some residents will insist that they can taste the difference between sugar and corn syrup in their carbonated beverages, and if you search a bit, you'll probably run across sugar-sweetened ones.
There are dozens of hotel and motel chains, ranging from budget to top end. Allthough they are not the most charming accommodations, they usually have a very decent midrange service with good rooms and are generally good value. At least you know what to expect and in some cases they are either the only or the best option in the area. Some of them include:
We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Oklahoma searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Oklahoma and areas nearby.
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