Rachael Van Horn
Woodward, Okla. —
WAYNOKA – When Little Sahara State Park Manager Jason Badley hears the public wish for something, he puts on his thinking cap and starts dreaming about how to make it happen.
That is the story behind a new viewing platform being constructed this summer that will allow those who may not have recreational vehicles still be able to see the wonder that is known to locals as just “Little Sahara.”
Little Sahara is a 1,600 acre stretch of sand dunes was created by terrace deposits from prehistoric times when the Cimarron River was thought to have flowed over the whole region, according to historic data about the park on its website www.travelok.com.
If you spot a truck and trailer loaded with dune buggies or ATVs in Northwest Oklahoma, you know where they are headed. The park has been a draw for enthusiasts with Jeeps, four wheelers, dune buggies and dirt bikes.
Now, thanks to a totally ADA accessible, elevated platform project that has been in the works for about a year, those who simply want to view the natural beauty of the park can spend an evening watching the sun go down over the dunes or just watch family having fun, Badley said.
“We used to have an observation tower but it was over on the south end and time took its toll on it,” Badley said. “So since then, we have been hit up again and again to put a new one in and so here we are now.”
Badley said the location of the new platform will allow viewers to see the largest dunes as well as the red flat hills beyond them.
“We are still a quarter of a mile away but you are elevated over the tree lines and it gives you the views of the dunes and the scenic views around them,” he said.
Since the purpose was to open the area to anyone, Badley said the construction has all been done in such a way to allow people in wheelchairs access. The size of the platform will allow whole classrooms of children the opportunity to see as well.
While the project was originally planned to be complete by February, architectural changes and other construction hold ups have delayed the opening, Badley said.
“I think a safe time frame to say it will be open is in October some time,” Badley said.