Thursday, March 10, 2011

Oklahoma to close Heavener Runestone State Park

Waterfall at Heavener Runestone State Park
I mention this here because it is a popular destination for residents in western Arkansas and is well know for its controversial carvings that some say prove Vikings visited Arkansas and Oklahoma centuries ago.

According to a report in the Poteau Daily News, Heavener Runestone State Park in Heavener is one of seven Oklahoma State Parks that will be closed by the state tourism and recreation department on August 15, 2011, as part of planned budget cuts. According to the newspaper's report, if the park is closed the land and improvements on it will automatically revert back to the original owners.

Heavener Runestone State Park attracts around 100,000 visitors a year, providing a significant economic impact on western Oklahoma. The loss of the tourism dollars would have a dramatic impact on the area.

Carvings on Heavener Runestone
The park takes its name from the famed Heavener Runestone, one of a series of strange rock carvings found in the area. Some say that the strange letters or runes spell out the word Glomesdal or Gnomesdal, which can be translated roughly to "Valley of Glome" or Valley of the Gnomes." I tend to favor the latter translation because the huge boulder is found in a beautiful ravine that brings to mind a place where the ancients say gnomes would have lived.

The issue of its authenticity is controversial. Some believe that the runestone offers proof that ancient Norse explorers made their way up the Mississippi and Arkansas Rivers as far as western Oklahoma. Others believe that the carving is a modern forgery, or possibly just a modern carving meant to add some mystique to the place.

Either way, the park is one of the most beautiful in Arkansas. The views from atop Poteau Mountain are spectacular and the spring blooms and waterfalls are stunning. To learn more, please visit