Louise Speaks: We stayed in Bartlesville, OK last night so that we could get to the Woolaroc Ranch nice and early today. I don’t remember why I wanted to go to the Woolaroc Ranch, but I do remember that it was on my list.
However, we did have one quirky thing to see in town before heading to the ranch and that were “three unique water towers.” Most towns just have one water tower, but Bartlesville has three. So to be cute, they have labeled each tower as Hot, Warm and Cold. I’m sure parents have a real challenge explaining this to their kids.
Our next stop was the Woolaroc Ranch. The ranch is on the outskirts of town, but worth the drive. Woolaroc is a huge place that was built by Frank Phillips, the founder of Phillips Petroleum. The ranch gets it’s name from WOO for woods, LA for lake and ROC for rocks. Phillips used this place for his weekend getaways. After his death, the home and land were turned into lodging facilities and a museum.
There is something here for everyone. This past April, a petting zoo was opened. There is also an observation tower that you can climb, and we did, and from the top the view allows you to see for miles. The museum itself hosts one of the largest collections of western and Native American art in the United States. You can even get a Buffalo Burger at the concession stand.
Once you enter the grounds, there are signs everywhere telling you to stay in your car. The animals roam freely although there are fences in some areas, but not everywhere. The animals, including large bison walk along side of the road and have no fear of vehicles, not even the motor home. You are able to roam the grounds in your vehicle, enjoy the museum, explore the lodge, go to the top of the tower and enjoy the beautiful grounds at your own leisure.
There is however, a tour that takes you on a five mile drive through some of the most beautiful portions of the Woolaroc Preserves. The tour includes a stop at an authentic restoration of an 1840’s Traders Camp where true to life mountain men offer a glimpse of early settler living. Here you are able to experience nature’s beauty while smelling the clean fresh air of the Osage Hills and listen to the peaceful sounds of the streams running through the 3,700 acres of wildlife preserves.
There are also many scheduled events so that you can plan your trip around a particular event like camping in a tee pee, concerts and even a Wonderland of Lights. Many exotic animals like zebras, ostriches and wapiti’s roam the grounds. It appears that Frank Phillips is much like William Hearsts, who loves to have his own zoo on his property.
We could have spent much more time here, but we do have places to go and still more things to see. Tonight we are going to see Thelma’s cousin in Springfield Missouri, so we have to hit the road. Long day on the road today, but we did want to make it to Springfield in time for dinner. So our longest day so far…420 miles…Yikes!
Woolrac Ranch is in Patricia’s Book “1000 Places To See Before You Die”, and deserves a B rating. If we would have had more time, I’m sure we would have seen more.