We were on our way to Natural Falls State Park when a sign appeared on the right side of the highway that said, “Jim Thorpe Home.” Well, when you come across something so special and unexpected, you just have to pull over! Thus we absolutely had to visit Jim Thorpe’s house.
This unassuming sign was unexpected. We had accidentally taken a very convoluted route, but it was hard to be upset about the added drive time when such an unexpected gem presented itself to us.
Here’s a rundown of our stop and everything you need to know to plan your own Jim Thorpe Home visit!
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Things to Know Before You Visit the Jim Thorpe Home
Here’s everything you need to know!
Where to Stay in Yale, Oklahoma
If you’d prefer to stay in a hotel, there are options in Cushing and Stillwater, which are both nearby. Here are some options for Stillwater:
Best 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 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 Budget 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.
Who was Jim Thorpe?
One of the most famous Oklahomans of all time, Jim Thorpe was an outright legend in his day. According to the Oklahoma Hall of Fame:
“Among the greatest athletes in history, James Francis Thorpe is legendary. Born on a farm near Prague to parents who were part Sac and Fox and part Pottawatomie, he attended both Haskell and Carlisle Indian Schools (1907-1912).
He became an international sports hero at the 1912 Olympics in Sweden, where he won the decathlon and pentathlon. In the pentathlon, he won four of the five events while in the decathlon he scored a new world record of 8,412 points.
Thorpe was crowned the “greatest athlete of the half-century” by a 1950 Associated Press poll of America’s sportswriters, and in 1969, the National Football League included Thorpe in its NFL 50th Anniversary All-Time Team.
In 1999 The Oklahoman chose him as the state’s greatest athlete of the 20th century.”
What is the Jim Thorpe Home?
While Jim Thorpe was born near Prague, Oklahoma, and died in California, the only home he ever owned is in Yale. He bought the house in 1917 and lived there until 1923.
Maintained by the Oklahoma Historical Society, the home is a museum that includes memorabilia from Thorpe’s playing days.
How to Visit the Jim Thorpe Home
The house is open Friday through Sunday for tours, but you can simply stop by the outside any time if you will be nearby during the rest of the week. There’s no fence, but be warned the curtains do block most of the interior from view.
If you will be in town during another day, reach out to them ahead of time via their Facebook page to see if they can make a special arrangement.
Jim Thorpe House Hours
You can visit on Fridays and Saturdays from 10am until 5pm, and on Sundays from 1pm until 5pm. The house is closed on national holidays. Check with them directly if there’s inclement weather or other local emergencies.
Jim Thorpe Home Tours
Everyone who comes during normal hours of operation is offered the opportunity to have an official walk through tour.
The Rice/Kerby Cabin
The oldest homestead in Payne County, Oklahoma, the Rice/Kerby cabin was built in the 1870s. It has been carefully moved to sit beside the Jim Thorpe House to be used as an educational facility teaching about Thorpe’s early life.
Where to Park
There is ample free parking on the street in front of the house.
How Much Does it Cost to Visit?
There is no cost to visit the Jim Thorpe House other than your own transportation.
What to Wear
There’s no reason to be overly dressy. If you have other plans for the day, I would dress to accommodate your other activities. There’s no specific dress code.
What to Bring
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). 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! If you will spend a lot of time outdoors, 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.
Things to Do in Yale & Nearby
While the town is small, there’s lots to do in the greater Yale area. Explore nearby Stillwater and Cushing, as well as Keystone State Park.
How to Get to Yale, Oklahoma
There are no good public transportation options to Yale. At best, you can take public transportation to Oklahoma City, Tulsa, or Stillwater and take a taxi or private driver from there.
The cheapest option is to drive. If you don’t have your own car, I have recs for rental cars below.
Oklahoma City to Yale
The drive to Yale from Oklahoma City takes about an hour and a half. The rive is about eighty miles. There are multiple routes that all take about the same amount of time.
I prefer taking I-35 to Highway 51 and going through Stillwater. This route is simple with no major turns.
Tulsa to Yale
The drive to Yale from Tulsa takes between fifty minutes and an hour. Leave town on Highway 51 heading west, and you’ll find yourself in Yale after a while. Pretty simple, huh?
Stillwater to Yale
The drive to Yale from Stillwater is a little over twenty minutes along Highway 51, making it a perfect half-day trip from OSU.
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.
Oklahoma Travel Resources
Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!
Heading out on the road?
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.
Pin this Guide for Your Visit to the Jim Thorpe House
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!