Aside from a few amenities to make Dogwood Canyon Nature Park more accessible to guests, the rugged landscape has been left untouched and, with just a little imagination, you can travel back to a time when European settlers first entered the area or, even further, to explore the mark that Native Americans left on these Missouri hills and hollows.
The park is managed by the Dogwood Canyon Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and protecting the canyon’s natural plant and wildlife environment. The Foundation promotes environmental conservation by maintaining the park and providing the public with an unspoiled setting for exploration and the enjoyment of various outdoor activities.
The purposes of the Dogwood Canyon Foundation are to promote natural conservation and preservation, and to preserve the natural environment and its wildlife and plant life by acquiring and maintaining ecologically significant, undeveloped land and preserving it for the benefit of the general public. To achieve its purpose, the foundation owns, operates and maintains the Dogwood Canyon Nature Park.
Theme parks, music shows, shopping malls and other attractions can quickly fill a family’s vacation schedule. Many Ozark mountain country guests and residents make sure there’s time to fully enjoy the area’s “wilder, wetter” side. After all, three large, pristine lakes are nestled close by to provide a wide variety of exciting outdoor adventure. Numerous spring-fed rivers and streams roam through nearby hills and hollows for people who want to get especially close to nature. Memorable trips can be easily arranged for canoe, kayak or jonboat floats through the region’s famed wooded, flowered hills and hollows. Floaters will notice bustling wildlife, from squirrels to whitetail deer to wild turkey.
Dynamic Table Rock Lake, secluded Bull Shoals Lake and trout-laden Lake Taneycomo offer a wide variety of water sports and related activities amidst the forested hills surrounding Branson. Avid fishermen have been streaming here from around the world with tackle and boats since the lakes were formed more than 50 years ago. Table Rock Lake and Bull Shoals Lake feature heavy populations of sport fish including crappie, walleye, catfish, bluegill and three varieties of bass. Taneycomo is well-recognized as one of the top trout streams in America for filling hefty stringers of rainbows and browns.
Mark Twain National Forest covers 29 southern and central Missouri counties for a total of 1.5 million acres. The perfect place for the outdoor enthusiast, or even just for those who want to get their feet wet, Mark Twain National Forest offers a variety of outdoor activities: beaches and dunes, bicycling, and cabins, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, camping, hunting, nature-viewing, picnicking, water activities and scenic drives.
Table Rock Lake visitors will find a vast Civil War battlefield about an hour’s drive away in northern Arkansas. The Pea Ridge National Military Park at Garfield, Ark., commemorates a battle fought March 7, 1862, and is credited for saving Missouri for the Union. More than 26,000 soldiers were involved in what is called the “most decisive” battle west of the Mississippi River. The 4,300-acre park, operated by the National Park Service, features a seven-mile road tour with 10 stops, nine miles of horse trails and a seven-mile hiking trail. The visitor center contains a theater featuring a 28-minute film, bookstore and museum.
Trout fishing enthusiasts may want to take a short drive to explore Roaring River State Park near Cassville, Mo. One of the most attractive of Missouri’s many state parks, Roaring River is a favorite with a beautiful waterway and spring-fed trout pool. Visitors will enjoy comfortable accommodations, a restaurant and meeting rooms in the Emory Melton Inn and Conference Center, named for a much-respected, retired Missouri lawmaker living in Cassville. The Ozark Chinquapin Nature Center displays exhibits and presents programs on the park’s history. Seven walking trails, totaling 10 miles, take explorers through the nearly 4,000-acre park. The park also features a trout hatchery, swimming and picnic areas.
Mansfield is famous for Rocky Ridge Farm, the home of Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the “Little House” books. Almanzo Wilder, Laura Ingalls Wilder and their daughter, Rose, moved in 1894 to Rocky Ridge Farm, making this their permanent residence. The nine manuscripts that made up the “Little House” series were written at Rocky Ridge Farm. The museum, devoted to Laura Ingalls Wilder, contains items from more than a century of pioneer life. Her daughter, author and journalist, Rose Wilder Lane, is also memorialized in the museum.
Civil War history was made just a short drive away from the Table Rock Lake area. The Battle of Wilson’s Creek, the first major battle west of the Mississippi River, was fought August 10, 1861, on land about 10 miles southwest of Springfield, Mo. The South won the battle but Missouri remained under Federal control. Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield remains nearly unchanged in the 150 years since the battle was fought. The visitor center offers exhibits, a fiber-optics map of the battle, film, bookstore and research library. The Wilson’s Creek Civil War Museum holds a collection of original Civil War items.
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