One of Oklahoma City’s often missed gems is Will Rogers Park. Located a little off the beaten path, it provides a soothing escape from the noises of the city.
Upon entering Will Rogers Park from Portland Avenue (Pat Murphy Drive runs from Portland through the park), it appears to be the same old city park story of grass, trees, benches, and small playgrounds. And for the unadventurous visitor, that’s all it will remain because those amenities cover a good portion of the front of the park. Will Rogers Park, however, has a great deal more to offer.
For one, it has an amphitheater, frisbee-golf courses, and tennis courts, all of which provide hours of fun. Of course, it also has large open areas for soccer matches, games of tag, and the like. But that is just beginning. Will Rogers true treasures are the gardens located near I-44 at the back of the park. Visitors can take a leisurely stroll along the edge of the park’s pond and into the beautiful field that contains the park’s famous rose gardens. Row after row of roses line the gardens, from the exotic to the more common. The park has over 100 varieties of roses all with their own unique colors and scents. This part of the park alone is worth the trip.
As visitors continue their stroll through the park, they will run across walking trails through trees, bridges, and sculptured rock and garden areas. Water runs throughout the park in streams and a pond. Each turn brings a new delight. One area even has an herb garden with a rose-covered trellis, perfect for a romantic outing.
The trees are one of the parks highlights. Care has been taken to provide a variety of trees for the park’s arboretum including Oaks, Crab Apples, Crape Myrtles, Junipers, and Redbuds. In the fall, the park turns spectacular shades of reds, golds, and oranges.
But it doesn’t end there. Will Rogers Park also contains its own greenhouses and botanical gardens. Visitors can enter the greenhouses for free, and they contain a number of interesting plants with a large selection of another of the park’s specialties, cacti. Also, the gardeners and caretakers are often nearby to answer any questions.
One the most enticing parts of the park is the iris garden near the edge of the pond (there is an entrance to the garden from the parking lot and from the greenhouse side). The garden contains quite a few varieties of these exotic, beautiful flowers. However, they mostly bloom in April and May, so visitors should be sure to make it out to the park during the time they are blooming.
The park experience is not limited to plants, either. The park is teeming with wildlife from ducks to turtles to squirrels. Kids, especially, will enjoy this aspect.
While most people would enjoy the park anytime, garden enthusiasts should note the park’s scheduled events, including plant shows and sales. Will Rogers Park also offers quite a few free classes on subjects including gardening and drawing, as well as free guided hikes at certain times of the year (such as in the fall when the leaves are changing).
Will Rogers Park is a beautiful, sculptured park. It was quite a surprise for me to find such a well-cared for park in the middle of dry, busy OKC. Best of all, the whole park is free-so whether for a late Sunday afternoon stroll, a picnic, or just a quiet fifteen escape during lunch hour, this park is sure to please anyone.
Located between NW 23rd and NW 36th, the park runs from Portland Avenue to I-44 (and a little bit across I-44). Portland and I-44 both have entrances to the park.