Halfway between Stillwater and Yale lies a quiet place, home to about a hundred and fifty people that protect a true Oklahoma hidden gem: the ghost town of Ingalls, Oklahoma.
Notorious as the site of the Battle of Ingalls (see below for the history), there’s a few things to do in Ingalls, Oklahoma that all visitors will want to add to their time here.
Here are five things you shouldn’t miss when you visit Ingalls!
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Where to Stay Near Ingalls, OK
While most people will come out and visit as a day trip from Oklahoma City, Tulsa, or another Oklahoma town, you can choose to stay in the area for a few days and see more of what Payne County has to offer.
Stay in Yale, Oklahoma
If you want to stay in Yale for a real small-town getaway, you can see the town over a day or two. There’s not a hotel in Yale, but there is an adorable Airbnb right in town! This cozy house sleeps six, and has superb reviews. Check pricing, reviews, and availability here.
Otherwise, here are my recommendations for where to stay in Stillwater:
Best Stillwater Budget Option (Under $75 a Night)
If you’re looking for something that’s comfortable and convenient, check into the Holiday Inn Stillwater. Located three miles from the OSU campus, you save a bit of money by being further from campus, but you’ll still be within a few minutes’ drive from most of Stillwater’s best sites.
Check reviews and availability here.
Best Stillwater Midrange Option ($75-125 a Night)
If you want a few more amenities like a pool, check out the Home2 Suites by Hilton. Less than a mile from the football stadium, this is a great place to stay if you’re planning on doing campus activities or sporting events during your trip.
Check reviews and availability here.
Best Stillwater Luxury Option (Under $100 a Night)
If you want to stay somewhere truly lovely, make reservations at the Atherton Hotel at OSU. With Instagrammable gardens and a restaurant on site, this is as close to true luxury as you’ll find in Stillwater.
Check reviews and availability here.
Best Stillwater Airbnb Option
If you’re looking for something that’s comfortable and private, stay at the Fern Cottage of 1915 near downtown and OSU. This cozy Airbnb is modern yet historic and cozy. It’s perfect for someone looking for rustic charm without over-the-top Western vibes.
Check reviews and availability here.
How to Get to Ingalls, Oklahoma
It’s easy to get to Ingalls…if you have your own car. There’s no good public transportation out to this part of rural Oklahoma. If you are in Stillwater or Tulsa and want to take an Uber or Taxi round trip, I bet you would be able to do so.
Just work out with the driver that it’s a trip out and back plus wait time. I have no idea what this would cost, but it’s your only option if you don’t have a car.
If you do want to drive but don’t have your own car, check the section below for renting one.
Once here, it’s easy to park right across the street.
From Stillwater: Ingalls sits off of Highway 51 in between Stillwater and Yale. This means that if you can get to Stillwater, you’re only fifteen minutes away! Just take Highway 51 east and turn right when you see the Doolin Dr/N3435 Rd. The town will be on your right after about one mile.
From Tulsa: If you’re coming from Tulsa, take Highway 51 west for about an hour. Ingalls will be on the left side. Turn left onto Doolin Dr/N3435 Rd. You’ll see the ghost town after about one mile on your right.
From Oklahoma City: Take I-35 North until you reach the turnoff for Highway 51 East. Once you reach Stillwater, you can follow the directions above. Total time from Oklahoma City to Ingalls is about one hour and fifteen minutes.
If you’re coming from somewhere else in state (or out), you’ll be happy to know that the town is well marked on electronic maps and once you’re at the corner of Ingalls Road and Main Street, it’s hard to miss what you’re looking for.
Tips for Renting a Car in Oklahoma
It’s awfully hard to get around Oklahoma without a car. Trust me, I’ve tried! While we went ahead and bought a car when we moved back, if you’ll only be here for a short while (or if you’re coming in from out of town), then you will want to rent a car.
I use Discover Cars when I rent cars on my travels. You’ll be able to pick up a car at any airport or in your hometown.
Check availability and get a quote for a rental car for your trip here.
The Battle of Ingalls
You might not have heard of the Battle of Ingalls, but as far as Wild West shoot-outs go, it was more furious with more loss than the O.K. Corral. It occurred between the Doolin-Dalton Gang and U.S. Deputy Marshals from Stillwater and Guthrie.
The town of Ingalls was founded in 1889 after the Oklahoma Landrun, and by 1893 it had become a haven for outlaws. During the battle itself, nine men were lost or wounded, including three US Marshals who did not survive, as well as eight to ten horses.
For an in-depth (seriously in-depth) overview of what happened during the battle as well as before and after, check out this excellent article from Edmond Life & Leisure and this overview from the U.S. Marshal’s Service.
The Best Things to Do in Ingalls, Ok
The town is tiny, but there are a few spots you will want to see. Don’t worry, it’s all in a small area that you can reach on foot once you’ve parked.
One thing to note is this town is NOT touristy. There’s no gift shop. No tour groups. It’s a great place for someone to come and experience the site along, but it means that doing a little research ahead of time or afterwards will go a long way!
See the Replica of the Ingalls Hotel
Though the buildings in town are replicas, they are old and quite something. The hotel is the most imposing and impressive structure in Ingalls. It’s also the most commonly photographed. My guess is it’s the most Instagrammable place in Ingalls.
While the actual battle took place around the hotel, it was where Arkansas Tom was staying before the battle started. For a town this small, can you imagine when this hotel was full of outlaws staying in town?
See the R.M. Saloon
The events of the day began in the R.M. Saloon, located on the other side of the livery barn from the hotel. Arkansas Tom Jones is believed to have started the ruckus, with other outlaws joining the attack on the U.S. Marshals gathered outside.
Peek Inside Wilson General Store
The small stand-alone building to the right is the General Store. While the windows are very foggy and barred, this building is the one I found easiest to peak inside. I was able to snap this photo with my iPhone:
I’m not sure how long its been since the town used the inside of the store or if its used in any reenactments.
Walk Through the Livery Barn
Though the sign says it’s the Ransom Liverey, today it’s mostly an open field in between the saloon and the hotel. After the men escaped from the saloon, they moved their position here. You can read a play-by-play account of the day here.
Of course, today feels like a world away from that dangerous afternoon. What’s left is just enough to help you picture the day’s events, but just barely.
See the Ingalls School
During it’s heyday, the Ingalls School, which is across the street from the General Store, boasted forty students. Today the building is actually a replica and is used as a community center. Concerts are held here Saturday nights.
There’s not much to do here if you’re not in town on a Saturday evening, but do note where it stands and how close some of the children of town could have been that fateful Friday.
Don’t leave town without heading down the street and seeing the monument. The state erected it in 1938 to the three US Marshals who fell during the battle.
It’s stone construction is typical for Oklahoma during the time and is reminiscent of the Armory in neighboring Yale built by the Works Progress Administration:
The monument’s original bronze plaque was stolen and replaced with a replica in the 1990s.
Don’t leave town without paying your respects here. Of course, who you sympathize with is up to you. According to Wild West magazine:
In 1938, when the state erected a monument to the deceased lawmen, one old-timer was noted as saying, “They built it for the wrong side.”
The Battle of Ingalls Sign
If you’re not keen to learn too much of the history (and are thus not reading any of the links above), don’t worry! You’ll get a brief overview once you’re in the town itself.
The sign lays out what happened and where it happened in the town, making it easier to visualize that fateful day. It also shows how the spot between the monument and the sign ended up being one of the most important and tragic spots in the whole town.
If you’re interested in the history of this small town and how it’s managed to survive despite it’s small population, you may enjoy paying a reverent visit to the Ingalls Cemetery.
Located across from the monument, you can walk around the cemetery and see grave markers that date all the way back to the town’s founding in 1889.
If there’s a particular grave or citizen you’re interested in, most have been cataloged here.
Battle of Ingalls Reenactment
If you can time your visit to be nearby on September 1, you can come for the annual Battle of Ingalls reenactment. Try to find confirmation that it will be happening before you go, as the reenactors get older each year and have a harder time participating.
Watch The Doolins of Oklahoma
You can see an old Hollywood depiction of the Doolin Gang in the 1949 western classic The Doolins of Oklahoma. With the tagline of “Greatest outlaw hunt in Oklahoma history!” it’s a must-see for Western movie lovers.
Of course, this is kind of cheating, since you wouldn’t do it in Ingalls (unless you brought your own way to watch the film online…which would actually be awesome). However, you can easily do this before or after your trip. You can rent the movie on Amazon here.
What to Wear in Ingalls
Since this little corner of Wild West history is picturesque and outdoors, dress comfortably and appropriate for the day’s weather. If you want to do something fun and dress up in period costume, go for it! Honestly, I’m sure the residents of the town are used to it.
Expect dusty roads and to be walking between buildings on unpaved ground. Opt for sunglasses if it’s even a little bit sunny. Driving in Oklahoma can be a pain without them!
What to Pack for a Trip in Oklahoma
Oklahoma Travel Resources
Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!
Before you leave for your trip make sure you have a valid Travel Insurance Policy because accidents happen on the road. I have used World Nomads when I travel since 2016, and I happily recommend them.
Getting coverage is important whenever you’re more than a hundred miles from home in case of an accident, sickness, theft, etc.
Get a travel insurance quote for your trip here.
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Stephanie is a born-and-bred Oklahoma mom and travel expert who has been to over fifty countries. After living in Eastern Europe for four years, she has moved with her family back to Oklahoma to write about her favorite places growing up: Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, & Route 66!