Chickasaw NRA felt different from the other National Park units I’ve been to. I found it difficult to navigate due to the lack of signs leading to the park. Once I arrived at the Travertine Nature Center I noticed the large amount of visitors meandering about, hanging out at the Nature Center, and playing in almost every bit of water visible. The Travertine Nature Center Park Rangers offered visitors information about the park, stamps, suggestions for hikes, and were incredibly patient with long winded visitor monologs. I noticed many families congregating at Little Niagara, a small waterfall and swimming area. This would be a fun place for photography if you can get there early before it is packed with families swimming and setting up camp for the day. I would suggest seeing this particular part of the park first thing in the morning before the crowd hits it around mid-day. The park is free of charge and visitors are allowed, even encouraged, to frolic in the water. It was a hot Saturday morning and people were everywhere.
Once we left the crowded areas it was actually pretty enjoyable. The Antelope and Buffalo Spring hike was an easy/moderate 1.2 miles through a beautiful forest setting. While the trees are delightful it seems water is the main reason people are drawn to this park. If you happen to have a camera that is waterproof, dunk it and get some underwater photographs. The Buffalo Spring provided a calm shady place to sit and rest. The spring was constantly bubbling and I lingered here for a while relaxing in this quiet spot.
Don’t forget to check out the Bison Pasture Trail, a 1.9 moderate hiking loop, early in the morning as well. I went around 1pm and it was so incredibly hot that I couldn’t walk the entire trail. I was unable to see bison as I am sure they were hiding from the blazing heat. I bet when they are out grazing it is a beautiful sight!
Chickasaw National Recreation Area is worth seeing if you can explore without the crowds. Be sure to chat with the Rangers before heading out as they can provide you with a plethora of information about the park.