National Cherokee Nation Park offers archery hunting, fishing
SALLISAW – After closing due to the pandemic, the National Cherokee Nation Park is open and ready for visitors. A hub for fishing and archery hunting, the park also has approximately 14 miles of horseback trails.
“It’s kind of a recreational sports lake if you really take a look at it,” said Deputy Chief Bryan Warner. “You get to (Lake) Tenkiller, you’ve got more boating, you’ve got more jet skiing. Here, a lot of your sportsmen and sportswomen, they really enjoy this spot. There’s a few good hunting holes back in here for the fisherman for these tournaments and stuff so we’re quite proud.”
Warner said closing during the pandemic allowed officials to “clean up” around the park.
“A lot of clean up, I mean, a lot of machinery that we’ve purchased (to) come in to clean up some things. A lot of that machinery, for us, is to help us keep those trails nice and clean and safe and so forth,” he said.
Managed by Cherokee Nation Businesses, Warner said the park was acquired approximately 20 years ago.
“For the longest time, it was kind of free standing, folks coming and going. On the CNB side of things, they came in and put kind of a parks department together and basically been working towards looking at improvements, taking a look at the area and what are the needs,” he said. “It’s healthy living, quality of life, things like that that we’re looking to restore to this area and give folks something to do and also there’s things to see around here, so it’s important for us that we showcase some of the most beautiful landscape that we have.”
Warner also said he hopes there will be more fishing tournaments at the park.
“We’ve got about a 35-acre lake that we were able to kind of develop along with the (U.S. Army) Corps (of Engineers)…and James Thornton, who is over this park, came in and about two years ago they stocked that pond up,” he said. “Give it another year or so, we’re pretty excited about some fishing derbies for kids and collaborating with the state. We want to have something that we’re proud of here and basically let nature take place and us to come by and enjoy it.”
James Thornton, CNB director of national parks, said the park’s “main thing” is horseback riding, especially when there is “good” weather.
“We have people all through the year come horseback riding,” he said. “It varies from five or six (trailers) to we’ve had as many as 20 in here that I know of.”
Thornton said only CN citizens can archery hunt and fish at the park, but park access is for everyone.
“We’re day-use only, so you can come down here, ride horses, hunt if you want to, but we have to always remember on the hunting side it’s archery only,” he said. “Bring your family down, have a picnic, that’s what we’re here for. We want it to be recreation for our community and people coming up and down Interstate 40.”
Thornton said hours are 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. but will be shifting to winter hours soon, which are 5:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
The National CN Park is at CN Sallisaw Creek State Park.