Fun Outdoor Activities in Muskogee, OK
Green hills. Lakes. Winding roads. For Max Boydstun they're what make Muskogee motorcycle heaven. But don't worry. We're not talking Marlon Brando and his wild bunch roaring into town intent on mayhem. We're talking tourism.
"Some people still have that image of cyclists, but it's as far from the truth as you can get," the self-identified "blues singer, diamond dealer and Oklahoma banker" says of the motorcycle buffs who have made Muskogee a top destination. "These are people with disposable incomes, who like to travel and like the freedom of a motorcycle. It's one of the last romantic ways to travel."
Boydstun and the Muskogee chamber have led the way in supporting motorcycle tourism, even preparing an award-winning Ride Guide that details 750 miles of great cycling routes over twisty, beautiful roads cyclists love.
Another wheel sport, extreme dirt track racing, is also building a following, combining elements of Gran Prix racing with dirt bike and ATV racing in vehicles that reach speeds of 80 or 90 miles an hour on a dirt track full of turns and jumps.
In May 2013 Muskogee hosted the American Motorcyclist Association ATV Extreme Dirt Track National Championship Series at Hatbox Field, where 250-300 racers from around the country competed before more than 1,000 spectators.
"Riders came from Washington State, Florida, the Carolinas, Virginia, you name it," says Dan Chepkauskus, a race supporter whose son and daughter both compete. "There are only eight of these events in the country, so this is a big plus for Muskogee."
Drawing big crowds and big-name anglers are the Muskogee area's five lakes and three rivers where fishermen can find largemouth bass, spotted and white bass, crappie and catfish. Bass, particularly, have helped boost Muskogee's national reputation as a fishing spot. The city's Three Forks Harbor has been the site of the prestigious Bassmaster Elite and Open Series national fishing tournaments, which in 2010 brought crowds of more than 5,000 people a day to the harbor.
"People come here before the tournament to pre-fish, and during the tournament to see their favorite anglers," says Treasure McKenzie of the Muskogee chamber. "We love these events – they give our local citizens a chance to get involved in something on a national level."
Meetings and Reunions
Muskogee's emergence as a place to have fun has boosted the city's convention and reunion business, McKenzie says. To compete with larger cities, the chamber has honed its target market – clubs, organizations and nonprofits – and focuses on smaller meetings, weddings and reunions. Creativity is key.
"We offer welcome speeches by our mayor, personal tours of the community, goodie bags, honorary Okie from Muskogee plaques, welcoming signs," says McKenzie, recalling a "Mysterious Women of Muskogee" ghost tour for the Soroptimists and a Jimmy Buffett-themed convention of city managers, with invitations printed on flip-flops. "We may not be Orlando, but we can do specialized things that will make them remember us for years afterwards," McKenzie says.
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