About Natural Falls (Dripping Springs Falls)
Natural Falls (I’ve also seen this referred to as Dripping Springs) was one of the more interesting waterfalls we stumbled upon in our research of Oklahoma Waterfalls, which prompted us to include it on our road trip through the South Central states in March 2016. In the literature, we saw that there was a tall 77ft waterfall plunging right over a few springs percolating and emerging through the middle of rocky cliff. Unfortunately, as you can see in the photo at the top of this page, the 77ft plunge wasn’t flowing, but there were many springs in addition to what’s pictured. Indeed, there were alcoves on either side of the main part of the falls, and within these alcoves, there were more springs emerging as waterfalls within their shady confines. We never really associated the state of Oklahoma as having any waterfalls of note, but a place like this defied those preconceptions, and we can totally see why the Natural Falls State Park was so busy during our visit.
Speaking of the visit, it was pretty brief as the trail to get to the bottom of the falls from the car park (see directions below) was quite easy and short. We basically descended alongside a gravel and grassy walkway with a coy pond, garden, and some fancy structures in the middle, then we went through an archway that led us onto a network of well-defined and well-signed trails. We kept right at the first junction, and then we checked out an overhanging platform draped over the deep canyon with a top down view of the Natural Falls and the Dripping Springs. This was the kind of lookout that could easily induce butterflies given that we were literally standing right above a dropoff.
After having our fill of this overlook, we then went behind us and descended a trail that curved to the left, went past a trail junction for a lake, then kept going down to the left along a set of steps ultimately bringing us to the base of the canyon. After a few more paces of walking over a bridge, we then arrived at the end of the trail, where there was a viewing deck with a few benches for sitting. There were easily two dozen people or more on this lookout deck during our visit, which attested to this place’s popularity. Anyways, from this lookout deck, we looked over the attractive plunge pool (no swimming was allowed though) while we admired in the springs, the rugged rocks and cliffs surrounding us, and the impressive overlook as well as a bridge spanning part of the chasm high above us. When we had our fill of this place, we just headed back the way we came, and the entire excursion took less than an hour (including the time spent taking pictures and chilling out at the viewing deck).
On the way back, I took a brief detour to explore the trail going over the top of the dry Natural Falls, then curling to the high bridge spanning the chasm. However, it turned out that there really wasn’t much of a view from up there as the girders and railings were thick, and the views from across the bridge were mostly obstructed. While viewing the waterfall would be the natural thing to do while in this state park, we noticed quite a few people staying here for more time as they’d be camping, picnicking, or going on other hikes in the area.
Finally, we wondered a bit about why the tall 77ft drop of Natural Falls was missing from our trip despite the heavy rains from the previous week that really hit Texas and Louisiana as well as parts of Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Mississippi. Our conclusion was that either those heavy rains didn’t really hit the West Siloam Springs area (northeast Oklahoma) very much or the uppermost drop had a very short life. Whatever the case may be, I’d imagine timing would be a big part of seeing all the waterfalls flowing in one go. We definitely would’ve given this waterfall’s scenic rating a higher score had that been the case. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be on our visit.
We visited Natural Falls and Dripping Springs as part of a very long drive that started in Clarksville, Arkansas and ended in Ardmore, Oklahoma. Earlier that morning, we hiked to the Glory Hole before continuing the drive towards the joined towns of Springdale and Fayetteville then this waterfall. We then continued our route by driving west to Tulsa, then southwest to Oklahoma City, and finally south to Ardmore.
From Springdale / Fayetteville, we kept going west along the Hwy 412 (we actually followed this highway from as far east as its junction with Hwy 21 just east of Marble, Arkansas). We’d eventually enter the town of West Siloam Springs right on the Arkansas-Oklahoma border (about 24 miles west of Springdale / Fayetteville). Then, we continued another 6 miles west of the state border to the N4680 Road (a Natural Falls State Park sign pointed the way left onto this road). We had to be careful about making this left turn because traffic moved very fast on the Hwy 412 at this point.
Once on the N4680 Road, we then drove for about a 1/4-mile before making another left onto another local road where the visitor center for the Natural Falls State Park could be seen on the right. This drive took us around 45 minutes. The day use fee for us was $5 per vehicle.
The drive east from Tulsa involved quite a bit of driving through Cherokee lands along the Cherokee Turnpike (still Hwy 412, but required a toll). In total, we drove roughly 66 miles between Tulsa and the N4680 Road for Natural Falls State Park. Once on the N4680 Road, follow the directions as above to get to the entrance for the state park.
Finally, to give you a sense of context, West Siloam Springs was 82 miles (about 90 minutes drive) east of Tulsa, 187 miles (about 3 hours drive) east of Oklahoma City, and 308 miles (about 5 hours drive) north of Dallas, Texas.
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