Branson, MO  - Vacation Travel Guide

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Branson Area Features

Ozarks' Outdoor Activities

  By: Ladona Weathers
Photo Credit: Branson/Lakes Area CVB

Getting outside and back to nature is truly the best way to see and experience the Ozarks. The Ozarks is a plateau area that begins in southwest Missouri and extends into our neighbors: Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas. The hills and valleys of this area are perfect for outdoor adventures or simply relaxing and taking in the sights.

By Water
In the Branson area you’ll find three outstanding lakes: Table Rock, Lake Taneycomo, and Bull Shoals, allowing for every type of water sport. 

Fishing: For fishermen, each lake provides its own fishing environment. Lake Taneycomo is home to colder water from the bottom of Table Rock Lake. This lake is known for world-class trout fishing, but you’ll see all types of fishing here. Boats dot the narrow waterway, as do folks casting from the shoreline or enjoying a little fly-fishing. Table Rock Lake’s rocky bluff shoreline leaves most fishermen in their boats. Bull Shoals also has rock bluffs but you’ll find a few more accessible shore areas. Both Table Rock and Bull Shoals are a bass fisherman’s dream and host tournaments throughout the year.

Watersports: You can enjoy almost every type of watersport you can think of in the Branson area. If you’re interested in paddleboarding, tubing, water skiing or wakeboarding, you can enjoy all these water adventures on either Table Rock or Bull Shoals. The main difference between these two lakes is their size and location. Table Rock is larger than Bull Shoals and busier. Both lakes are great for boating and swimming too. If you’re looking for a swimming hole that you don’t need a boat to access, visit Moonshine Beach. Operated by the Army Corps of Engineers, it’s an inexpensive way to enjoy Table Rock Lake.

Scuba Diving: One very special way to enjoy our lakes is scuba diving. Table Rock Lake especially holds some unique dive spots. Bull Shoals and Table Rock are both man-made by dams. The damming of the White River has provided some interesting underwater areas to explore, including whole towns that now lie under the surface.

The area’s many marinas can assist you with boat, fishing, scuba and watersports equipment rentals.

By Land
The hills that make up the Ozark Mountains are filled with trails for varying skill levels. Whether you’re wanting to get outside with the entire family or looking to get your heart rate up with a challenging hike or bike ride, you can find the right trail for you in the Branson area.

Day Hikes: White River Corridor Trail (below Table Rock Dam) has paths along Lake Taneycomo, while White River Bluffs Trail traverses scenic bluffs. Trails are marked, and maps are also available at the Shepherd of the Hills Trout Hatchery. Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area (Hwy. 76) offers paved trails and natural surfaces. An observation tower provides great views of the mountains. The Ozark Mountain Glades feature diverse microclimates that are home to beautiful yet diverse plants and desert-oriented critters, all within the confines of a hardwood forest!

Lakeside Forest Wilderness Area (Fall Creek Rd.) is a grand attraction for hikers. Signs direct you to the parking lot trailhead. Stone steps, placed by hand decades ago, cross the bluff overlooking Lake Taneycomo and you will find Ozarks history along the way. The Corps of Engineers, Dewey Short Visitors Center (south of Table Rock Dam) has a network of hiking trails that partially follow Table Rock Lake. Stockstill Park (James Epps Rd.) offers walking trails in addition to tennis courts, playing fields, playgrounds, picnic shelters and a skateboarding park, all situated near Roark Creek. At Stockstill Park you will also find the Elmo & Rosalea Marrs Memorial Dog Park, an off-leash play area for dogs of all sizes. A list of 7 trails and 15 parks managed by the City of Branson is on the website, www.BransonParksAndRecreation.com.

Wolfe Creek Photo Safari Walking Tour starts with a ride to the top of the mountain followed by a guided, gentle, downhill walking tour through Wolfe Creek Preserve. Step out onto observation decks to enjoy the Ozarks outdoors and watch the zipliners.

Cycling: Opportunities to mountain bike on the steep, rocky Ozark hills will challenge even the most seasoned biker, while road riders can find several (low traffic) miles of smooth backcountry roads and highways. Maps and tour routes are available at www.downhillbikes.biz.

Adventure Seekers: The terrain of the Ozarks makes it easy to find outdoor adventures. In recent years, zip lines have found the mountains a perfect setting for soaring above treetops. People of all ages can enjoy this breathtaking experience, ranging from a low-impact, relaxing ride to the most daring, thrill-seeking rides: starting from extreme heights and zipping along at speeds up to 50 mph. There’s even a motorized version available. Swinging rope bridges, sky bridges, and treetop platforms add even more excitement. You can even soar high above Lake Taneycomo at Branson Landing.

The Wild Side: Branson is home to two great animal adventures that allow you get up close and personal with wild animals. The Promised Land Zoo and National Tiger Sanctuary are great outdoor stops for the whole family.

There are many ways to take your Branson visit outdoors. Relax lakeside or get your heart racing as you ride down a mountain on your bike. However you choose to enjoy the Ozarks, we know you’ll find stunning scenery as you get back to nature in the clean Ozarks air.

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