How to Get from Oklahoma City to Pawhuska the Easy Way & the Hard Way!

Oklahoma - Pawhuska - Tallgrass Prairie Preserve - View from car driving around
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Whether you’re headed up to Pawhuska from Oklahoma City to see the Bison at the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, learn about the Osage Nation at the various museums, or eat your heart out at the Mercantile, you’re in for a real treat!

This charming Oklahoma hidden gem can be visited as a day trip or a weekend getaway (though of course, you can spend longer)!

Oklahoma - Pawhuska - The Mercantile
Seeing the Pioneer Woman’s Mercantile isn’t the only thing to do in Pawhuska, but it’s a great start!

Here’s how to get from Oklahoma City to Pawhuska – both the easy way and the hard way. There are also tips for the drive to make your trip go smoothly!

If you will be spending some time in town once you’re here, check out this list of the best things to do in Pawhuska.

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How to Get from Oklahoma City to Pawhuska

Where to Stay in Pawhuska

Oklahoma - Pawhuska - Prairie Cottages

While you can visit Pawhuska as a day trip from Oklahoma City, Tulsa, or Wichita, there’s enough to do here that you can stay overnight or on a long weekend and really dig into all that Pawhuska and Osage County have to offer.

Here are my suggestions for where to stay in each budget category, plus an Airbnb recommendation. Recs are based on listed prices at the time, but keep in mind they can fluctuate based on availability, so always double-check the linked-to website for pricing for your exact dates.

Best Budget Option (Under $100 a night)

For a charming yet budget-conscious stay in Pawhuska, check into The Mabelle, a Craftsman-era homestay that has four-poster beds, garden views, and vintage decor. See pictures and availability here.

Best Mid-Range Option ($100-200 per night)

For a stay with a cozy appeal, check into the Historic Whiting Hotel Suites, located a tenth of a mile from The Mercantile and the rest of downtown. Rooms feature private balconies, kitchenettes, and kitschy decor. See pictures and availability here.

Best Luxury Option ($200 or more per night)

For a relaxing stay, check into the Frontier Hotel Pawhuska, which offers a sophisticated take on Wild West decor without scrimping on comfort. The rooms are stunning, with a mix of modern and farmhouse style and layers of country fabrics. See pictures and availability here.

Best Airbnb Option

If you’ve always been curious about tiny house living, check into the Prairie Cottage Queen, a tiny house located steps from The Mercantile. This tiny cottage sleeps up to four and features a modern cottage-chic decor. Perfect for anyone looking to avoid a hotel or traveling in a small group. See pictures and availability here.

Where is Pawhuska, Ok?

Pawhuska is located in northeastern Oklahoma in Osage County. It is northeast of Oklahoma City and northwest of Tulsa. Pawhuska is so far north in Oklahoma that it’s only about thirty miles from the Kansas border.

How Far is Pawhuska from Oklahoma City?

The distance from Oklahoma City to Pawhuska is only about one hundred miles, but the driving distance is about one hundred and fifty miles.

How to Get from Oklahoma City to Pawhuska by Car (AKA the Easy Way)

Oklahoma - Pawhuska - Tallgrass Prairie Preserve - Stephanie Driving to the Tallgrass Prairie Reserve
Driving from Oklahoma City to Pawhuska in winter.

This is the easiest way to get from OKC to Pawhuska. The drive is a little over two hours, and the roads are easy.

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OKC to Pawhuska Driving Instructions

First, make your way to I-35. Wherever you are in Oklahoma City, it should be easy to get to I-35.

Take I-35 North. You’ll be on the interstate for a little over an hour. The traffic usually isn’t bad on this road, especially if you’re leaving in the morning. Of course, you can expect some traffic if you leave during rush hour or if there’s an accident on the road.

This stretch of highway has good options for food and gas if you need to gas the car up. The OnCue at the 15th St exit in Edmond (just north of Oklahoma City) is a great place to get a little bit of everything if you want snacks or a meal without stopping at another restaurant.

Take Exit 214 to go on US-60 towards Tonkawa/Ponca City. US-60 will take you right into town. This part will last another hour, and there aren’t many places to stop along this stretch of the drive, so make sure you have gas and anything else you need before you get off I-35.

Tips for the Drive

Oklahoma - Pawhuska - Tallgrass Prairie Preserve - Stephanie driving

The drive is pretty easy, but here are a couple of tips to make it go even smoother:

First, watch out for deer! I have hit a deer on this stretch of I-35, and I’ve seen deer on US-60. Nothing will ruin your trip to Pawhuska faster than totalling your car on a buck.

Oklahoma - Pawhuska - Deer after crossing the road
You can just see two bucks running away from the highway after crossing US-60 during our recent visit to Pawhuska.

Second, watch out for the posted speed limits! While the speed on I-35 remains pretty consistent, bouncing between 70 and 75 mph, the speed limit on US-60 goes up and down as you drive through small downs.

Don’t endanger lives or end up with a ticket, so pay attention to the legal speed limits posted along the road.

Third, bring snacks. Once you get off I-35, there will be less options for provisions, so it’s nice to have snacks and drinks with you in the car.

Oklahoma - Pawhuska - The Mercantile Parking

Finally, make sure you park legally in Pawhuska. There is a municipal parking lot as well as lots and spaces set aside for customers of The Mercantile or specific hotels. Don’t park illegally and end up with a fine.

How to Get from the Oklahoma City Airport to Pawhuska (Will Rogers Airport to Pawhuska)

Oklahoma - Will Rogers Airport
Will Rogers Airport is a small airport that’s easy to get around.

If you are planning on flying into OKC and heading out to Pawhuska from Will Rogers World Airport (WRWA), then here is how you do it!

First, make sure you have pre-arranged for a rental car, because the rental car counters do not operate 24/7. It’s also cheaper to arrange for your car ahead of time. (Get a rental car quote here).

Once you have your car, you need to get to I-35, and from there you can follow the instruction on how to get to Pawhuska from Oklahoma City above. With the extra time, the trip is about two-and-a-half hours.

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To get from Will Rogers to I-35, you will need to take I-44:

  • Head south on Terminal Dr toward Guy Fuller Dr – 0.3 mi
  • Use the right lane to turn slightly right to stay on Terminal Dr – 0.1 mi
  • Turn right onto SW 67th St – 0.2 mi
  • Turn right onto S Meridian Ave – 0.5 mi
  • S Meridian Ave turns right and becomes Amelia Earhart Ln – 341 ft
  • Turn left onto Terminal Dr – 0.2 mi
  • Continue onto S Meridian Ave – 0.8 mi
  • Use the right lane to merge onto OK-152 E/Airport Rd via the ramp to I-44/Downtown – 1.0 mi
  • Keep left at the fork, follow signs for I-44 E/I-40/Tulsa/Downtown, and merge onto I-44 E
  • Keep right to stay on I-44 E – 2.3 mi
  • Keep left to stay on I-44 E – 1.2 mi
  • Take the exit to stay on I-44 E toward I-35/Tulsa/Wichita
  • Follow the instructions above for getting from I-35 to Pawhuska

How to Get to Pawhuska from OKC by Bus (AKA the Hard Way)

Oklahoma - Tulsa - Route 66 Sign
If you don’t want to drive, you’ll need to take the bus to Tulsa

If you can’t drive and do not want to rent a car, you technically can get to Pawhuska from OKC by bus. You will need to take a bus from OKC to Tulsa, and then in Tulsa take a taxi to Pawhuska. This would be a very time-consuming way to go, but it is possible.

The bus route is covered by Greyhound and takes about two hours.

Once you are in Tulsa, you will need to get a Taxi or an Uber to drive you out to Tulsa. The drive is about an hour. The costs for this are estimated to be between $100 and $200, depending on which service you go with.

If you go this way, make sure to get information on how to arrange to get back with the company before you get dropped off.

Tips for Renting a Car in Oklahoma

Oklahoma - Driving in Oklahoma - OKC to Stillwater

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.

What to Wear in Pawhuska

Oklahoma - Pawhuska - The Mercantile Wagon Stephanie

While you can buy as much Cowboy, Cowgirl, and Cowperson gear as you want once you get here, you might want to know how to dress before you arrive.

If you’re planning on having a girls’ trip, wear cute brunch clothes with a casual flair. Similarly, if you’re away for a couple’s trip, wear clothes that are comfortable yet stylish enough that you will enjoy looking at the photos for years to come.

If your plans include hiking at the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve or exploring Osage County’s many natural wonders, wear clothes appropriate to your activity.

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If your plans include hiking at the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve or exploring Osage County’s many natural wonders, wear clothes appropriate to your activity.

5 Things to Bring to Pawhuska

Oklahoma - Pawhuska - Tallgrass Prairie Preserve - Stephanie Driving to the Tallgrass Prairie Reserve with a phone and beef jerky

First, bring a camera! Whether you use your phone (a lot of these pics were taken with my iPhone 12 Pro), or you can a point and shoot like my Sony ZV-1, or even if you have a DSLR or Mirrorless (I have an old Nikon D810), it doesn’t matter.

Just make sure you bring a camera (or two). The town and the area are so photogenic, you won’t want to leave without having some of your memories captured!

Second, bring a phone charger! Whether you need an iPhone lightning cable or a Samsung USB-C charger, don’t leave yourself without internet access or the ability to make an emergency call from the road or if you’re out exploring on foot.

Third, bring a charging bank! Since you’ll be out of your car for long parts of the day, bring a portable charging bank so you can charge your phone on the go.

Fourth, bring a pair of sunglasses! This part of the state is windy and sunny, so you’ll be happy to have some eye protection from the glare and grime. I need prescription sunglasses (my latest pair I ordered online on Zenni), but I also love my Maui Jim’s aviators.

Finally, bring your sunscreen! You will spend a lot of your time outdoors, so prepare by having your sunscreen on before you leave and bring it with you so you can reapply as needed.

Bonus! Bring a great day bag so you can carry what you need with you (like your camera, snacks, water, sunscreen, cash, etc).

My current favorite is the Pacsafe Citysafe, which is especially great for traveling because it has many anti-theft features designed to deter pickpockets if you take it to bigger cities.

It also transitions to a night bag more easily and won’t embarrass you if you go to dinner directly after sightseeing all day. 

Oklahoma Travel Resources

Coming soon!

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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How to Get to Pawhuska from Oklahoma City

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