If you are planning a trip that will take you on Interstate 40 east through Oklahoma, you will find some terrific places to stop between the Texas border and Oklahoma City. OKC is the approximate half-way point if you are traveling all the way across the state.
I-40 is a major west-east highway, beginning in Barstow, California and ending in Wilmington, North Carolina. It is 331 miles across Oklahoma. I-40 from the Texas border to OKC parallels or crosses old historic Route 66.
If you like to stop at casinos, you may never get out of Oklahoma. You will see numerous signs for casinos, more as you go further east from the west, and you can check them all out. There is a particularly well-known one on this stretch, which is noted in this article.
If you are going from the west to the east, you will first encounter the flat Oklahoma, entering from flat Texas. There are really two Oklahomas - the Dust Bowl area, which encompasses this stretch of I-40, and the green area, which is the half of Oklahoma east of Oklahoma City. If you are traveling across the entire state, you will definitely notice the difference!
Cherokee Trading Post - Near Clinton is the Cherokee Trading Post on the north side of I-40. You HAVE to pull off here and wander around. It's a great place to pick up a pair of moccasins or a nice piece of authentic native American art. (Note: This is NOT where the Cherokees settled after the Trail of Tears - that's Talequah, on the northeast side of the state, and I-40 does not go through it.)
Red Rock Canyon - After that, keep an eye peeled for Hinton, and take the exit south. Hinton is just a few miles, and it is home to a really nice place to have a picnic and as much exploration as you have time for. It's called Red Rock Canyon, and the signs will point you there. You will wind your way down into the canyon, which is walled with gorgeous red rock. This was a favorite hide-away for the numerous outlaws that roamed Oklahoma in the wild west days, and you can easily see why.
Back on the road, you will pass Yukon, where Garth Brooks grew up, and El Reno, home to historic Fort Reno, which is worth pulling off to see if you have time. If you stop in El Reno to see Fort Reno, be sure and pick up some world-famous onion-burgers. El Reno is known for its onion-burgers, and for good reason. There are several onion-burger joints there, most of them old and small, and all of them are really good.
Casino Alert!! Just a few miles north of El Reno on Highway 81 is the Lucky Star Casino.
On I-40 again, you are almost immediately in the Oklahoma City metro area after you pass El Reno. OKC is a treasure trove of great places, many of them right off of the Interstate. Here are a few: Bricktown - This is an area immediate to I-40 that has numerous excellent eating joints ....Chilenos - Mexican, T. Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill - Barbeque, The Mantle - Upscale steak place, Bricktown Brewery - Brewpub, and many, many more.
Bricktown has Seg-Ways, horse-drawn buggies and rickshaws that you can use to see the sights (for a modest price).
Take a ride on the Bricktown canal boat for a great view of everything.
Bricktown is home to the Oklahoma Redhawks AAA baseball stadium and the Ford Center, home to the Oklahoma City Thunder professional basketball team. Basketball tickets are not always readily available, so you might consider ordering them in advance if you know when you will be in OKC.
The Oklahoma City Memorial (Murrah Building Bombing) is in walking distance of Bricktown, and Bricktown has numerous ambassadors walking around that will be happy to steer you in the right direction or provide you with maps.
I-40 from the Oklahoma/Texas border to OKC can be an adventure, if you have a little knowledge starting out. While I prefer the I-40 corridor from OKC east to Arkansas, there is a lot to recommend on the Texas to OKC stretch. Preparation and planning are keys.