Find your own niche at River Parks. Currently, River Parks encompasses over 26 miles of paved trails, hundreds of acres of open and wooded areas, and activities for young and old alike.
On the east bank of the river, adjacent to Riverside Drive, the trail stretches from 11th to 101st Streets. Beginning at Riverside Drive and Southwest Boulevard, all trails will be marked in half-mile and kilometer increments once trail construction has completed. At 96th Street and Riverside, trail users can cross the river to Jenks or connect with the Creek Turnpike Trail and travel to Hunter Park and further east to Memorial Drive. At 11th Street, trail users can go north, connecting to the M. K. & T. Tulsa-Sand Springs “Katy” Trail on the former railroad right-of-way. The Authority’s maintenance ends at Adams Road in Sand Springs, but the trail continues west to Highway 97 and south across the Arkansas River. Going west from 11th Street, the trail runs from the 11th Street Bridge to 71st Street. The asphalt-surfaced trails are open for non-motorized use by pedestrians, bicyclists and for roller sports. Most areas of the trail are lighted and park directory signs are located at parking lots.
Restaurants and Dining
The Blue Rose Café is located at 19th and Riverside along the east bank of the Arkansas River. This restaurant is a marina-style space filled with local music nostalgia and mixed with a beach side atmosphere. The expansive floor-to-ceiling glass windows overlook a large deck and provide beautiful vistas of the Arkansas River. The design is intended to welcome locals and visitors alike to “Tulsa’s Front Porch.” The Blue Rose Café is open year round and provides lunch, dinner and live music.
In addition, Elwood’s Café has opened on a limited basis for lunch and dinner in the old Rivers Edge Café location with a light menu of sandwiches, fruit and beverages. Indoor and outdoor seating is available. Please contact Elwood’s at (918) 949-9090 for a schedule of live entertainment.
Plants & Animals
Trees and brush along the river banks offer habitat for a variety of small animals including fox, raccoon, possum and beaver. The Arkansas is also a popular nesting area for the Interior Least Tern, an endangered species that is federally protected. The terns arrive in the area in April and nest on exposed sandbars in the river channel and the islands in Zink Lake. These areas are off-limits for people until the birds leave in August. As winter approaches, Bald Eagles arrive in nesting areas located upriver near Keystone Dam and elsewhere in the river corridor. The eagles are frequently seen hunting during the day along the river corridor.
Fields of wildflowers, including Indian Paint Brush and Purple Cone Flower, blanket areas of the park west of Riverside near the Pedestrian Bridge and in the 47th and Riverside area in the early spring. Much of the riverbank is lined with mature trees and the park’s landscape management includes the regular planting of new trees. Brush along the riverbank is maintained to provide erosion control and wildlife habitat.
Art in the Park
River Parks is home to the city’s largest collection of outdoor wildlife bronze sculptures. The fourteen sculptures are gifts to the citizens of Tulsa from NatureWorks, Inc., a local organization which promotes wildlife conservation and education projects in the community. Several other sculptures are located throughout the park system including Blair Fountain, the massive sculpture/fountain located in the river channel just north of the Pedestrian Bridge. In 2002, the Bank of Oklahoma and NatureWorks joined forces to fund the BOk Plaza, located at 71st and Riverside Drive. The BOk Plaza features a native Oklahoma black bear mother playing in a waterfall with her three cubs.
Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness Area
The Wilderness Area consists of over 300 acres of undeveloped property that stretches along the riverfront from the Southside Treatment Plant near I-44 to 71st Street and west from the river to the Elwood Avenue section line. At 300 feet above the Arkansas River, the summit offers a panoramic view of Tulsa. The park is heavily wooded and has two large ponds; there is no water or electricity. Dirt trails wind throughout the property for hiking and mountain biking. The Wilderness Area is the only portion of River Parks that allows horseback riding; however, River Parks does not offer horses or equipment rental. A map of the marked trails is located at the trailhead just off the parking lot.
Construction has been completed for improvements at the entrance to the Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness Area at 67th and Elwood. The size of the public parking lot has been doubled, a new restroom building has been added, and climbing boulders are installed. The improvements were funded by the George Kaiser Family Foundation to serve this very popular and heavily used outdoor destination. A second phase of improvements may include a covered picnic shelter, but no timetable has been determined for that project.
Geocaching is a worldwide game of hiding and seeking treasure. A geocacher can place a geocache anywhere in the world, pinpoint its location using GPS technology and then share the geocache’s existence and location online. Anyone with a GPS device can then try to locate the geocache.
Picnic Areas, Playgrounds, Parking & Restroom Facilities
Picnic areas are located throughout the park system, most in proximity to parking lots and restrooms. Picnic areas, playgrounds, parking lots and restroom buildings are accessible for persons with disabilities. Playgrounds are located at 19th, 41st and 96th Streets on the east bank. Drinking fountains are located near most restroom buildings throughout the park.
41st Street Plaza
The park at 41st and Riverside has been transformed into an exciting, family-oriented recreation destination with multiple interactive water features, a new restroom and covered pavilion, a large playground, a river overlook and expanded parking. Tulsa-based QuikTrip is the lead donor on the $2.8 million project, with additional funding provided by the George Kaiser Family Foundation, The Samson Companies, Joe & Kathy Craft, William K. Warren Foundation, Anne & Henry Zarrow Foundation, Mary K. Chapman Foundation, Lobeck-Taylor Foundation, Nadel & Gussman, John Steele Zink Foundation, Nancy E. and Peter C. Meinig, Steven & Shelly Jackson Family Foundation, Bank of Oklahoma, SemGroup LP, The Williams Companies and Cox Communications. The Plaza donation celebrates QuikTrip’s 50th anniversary. It is a gift to the citizens of Tulsa as a way of thanking the community for QuikTrip’s corporate success, and is given on behalf of the company’s 10,000 employees and their families.
The Arkansas River at Zink Dam is a popular spot to fish for catfish and Striped Bass. Wading in the river channel is allowed, but fishing piers on the south face of the Pedestrian Bridge offer a safe location during high water flows in the river. Fishing is allowed in most areas of the park except those specifically posted with “No Fishing” signs, such as the north side of the Pedestrian Bridge walkway and the concrete promenade area around Blair Fountain. Bowfishing is allowed in a zone south of the 29th Street Pedestrian Bridge on the west bank. Bowfishing from the 29th Street Pedestrian Bridge is not allowed. Warning lights on the south side of the Pedestrian Bridge indicate rising water, but anyone fishing in the channel needs to stay alert to water levels which can fluctuate rapidly.
Rowing / Kayaking / Boating
The Tulsa Rowing Club is located on the west bank of the river at 2100 South Jackson. Rowing activities occur on Zink Lake year-round and club members regularly compete in regattas around the country, as well as host such activities here in Tulsa. The Club also assists in training for local high school teams and is affiliated with the University of Tulsa Women’s Varsity Rowing Crew which competes in NCAA-sanctioned events. Kayaking is popular on the west bank of the river south of Zink Dam in an area of whitewater that is created by a rock jetty. Non-motorized boating is allowed on Zink Lake (boats are not provided).
The River SkatePark
This unique recreation facility is located adjacent to River Parks property, south of 21st Street on the west bank. This facility is owned by the City of Tulsa and operated through its Tulsa Parks division. The fenced and lighted facilities feature steel jumps and ramps and a spectator seating area. For information about lessons, exhibitions and operations at The River SkatePark, call Tulsa Parks at (918) 596-7275.
River Parks’ focal point is often considered the Pedestrian Bridge, located adjacent to Zink Dam near 29th and Riverside Drive. The Pedestrian Bridge, formerly a bridge for the Midland Valley Railroad, was donated to the City of Tulsa and converted for pedestrian use in the 1970′s. The wooden-deck bridge is 1,400 feet long and offers a relaxing spot for viewing the downtown skyline and the river. It is also a popular fishing spot.
Golzern Pedicabs offers “bicycle taxi rides” on the River Parks trails on weekends during the summer months for charters and on-demand rides. There is no charge for this service, but tips are appreciated. This is a great way for customers to “set their own rate,” making it an affordable form of transportation for everyone.
A new 18-hole disc golf course has been installed on the east bank near 41st and Riverside, courtesy of River Parks Friends. Each concrete tee box has a custom tee sign with a map and par information for each hole.