Camping in Oklahoma: Talimena Scenic Byway, Ouachita National Forest, and Cowboy Burgers

I’ve mentioned before that Oklahoma may surprise you – it definitely has surprised us! Based on stereotypes, Nathan and I expected to find lots of dust and wind; not mountains and forests. We share a love of the mountains and have missed Arizona for that reason. But, this Memorial Day weekend, we made the four-hour drive from OKC to the Winding Stair Campground to camp for two nights. And voila, mountains and forest! Absolutely beautiful:

Our campsite was located just off the Talimena Scenic Byway (Highway 1), in South Eastern OK. The Byway traverses a series of ridges in the Ouachita National Forest, and features many miles of maintained hiking trails, which we explored on Sunday for a few hours. Both nights, we enjoyed beautiful sunsets:

What’s better than watching a sunset from a ridge with a glass of [boxed] wine (me), or a cigar and a beer (Nathan)?

We had to brave some intense wind and some noise from the bikers on the Byway (it’s very popular with motorcyclists!), but it was worth it, even if just to see the stars:

Nathan planned all of the food for the weekend – including “Cowboy Burgers,” using veggies from our CSA (Kamala Gardens).

Cowboy Burger Recipe

Before leaving home:

  • Halve fingerling potatoes lengthwise and crosswise
  • Divide a small yellow onion (or white bulb from large green onion) into wedges
  • Peel baby carrots, keeping whole
  • Thinly slice radishes
  • Peel garlic gloves, keeping whole
  • Toss veggies together and season with salt, pepper, and chili powder to taste
  • Place all chopped veggies in large airtight container, add to cooler
  • Pack sealed frozen pound of ground beef in cooler

At campsite:

  • Allow one day for beef to thaw in cooler, then create two patties from ground beef; season beef with salt, pepper, and chili powder to taste
  • Arrange one beef patty and half of the veggies on top of two long pieces of tin foil, laid crosswise (so the two pieces form a “t”)
  • Repeat with other beef patty and remaining veggies
  • Add 2-3 pads of butter on top of each (important, so the ingredients saute)
  • Starting with the top layer of tin foil, bring ends together, and roll down until foil just touches the top of the chopped veggies and beef. Repeat with other piece of tin foil, forming a tightly sealed packet
  • Place Cowboy Burger packets above campfire (we balanced them on two pieces of wood, over a low flame)
  • Allow packets to simmer and steam for about 30 minutes; test beef for done-ness
  • Dump onto a plate, and enjoy!
Know any good camping recipes? Post below! We’ll make them next time, and let you know how it turns out! And explore the mountains and forests of Oklahoma! Like us, I am sure you will be very pleasantly surprised. 
– HBA
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About Holly Baumann Photography

I am Holly Baumann Ambuehl, a commercial and portrait photographer based in Central Illinois. My blog posts feature client work, but I just love to write, so I also write about owning a business, food and drink, travel, and my personal life! I am always honored when clients trust me to capture their vision, and equally so when my readers converse with me about what I've photographed or expressed here. I hope we'll have an opportunity to collaborate professionally and/or become friends. I'd love to hear what you think! - Holly
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