Missouri’s Dogwood Canyon Nature Park

The view of a large waterfall at the entrance to Dogwood Canyon can be enjoyed from inside the onsite café or from its patio. The 10,000-acre park recently reopened and is managed by the canyon’s nonprofit organization, dedicated to protecting the plants and wildlife.
The view of a large waterfall at the entrance to Dogwood Canyon can be enjoyed from inside the onsite café or from its patio. The 10,000-acre park recently reopened and is managed by the canyon’s nonprofit organization, dedicated to protecting the plants and wildlife.
photo by Starla Hester

Near Branson, Missouri, a nature park overflows with bottomless green pools, hiking and biking trails, and dramatic landscape

While on a visit to Branson, Missouri, we never thought we would find such
a beautiful nature park outside the busy entertainment city, about 45 minutes away in Lampe, Missouri.

The founder of Bass Pro Shops, Johnny Morris, acquired the 10,000 acres of the Ozark Mountains, best known as Dogwood Canyon, in 1990, and since then it has been preserved for the public’s enjoyment.

Dogwood Canyon Nature Park is located right on the Arkansas-Missouri state line. On our nature hike, while strolling the paved trail, we were amazed to walk out of Missouri and into Arkansas in a couple steps. Even more amazing were the waterfalls we encountered along the trail — more than a dozen of them on our 6.5-mile hike through the Ozarks. Each was unique with different size falls and distinctive sounds of the water hitting the rocks.
A small 1800s-replica church, Hope Wilderness Chapel, sits between the hiking trail and a creek with a view of a large waterfall cascading down rocks. Because of its lovely setting, the church is often used for weddings and vow renewals. As you walk farther down the trail, you come to several bridges that are handmade of stone. The arches and structure of the bridges give them a timeless and indestructible appearance.

The last waterfall on the trail, Wish Bowl Falls, is a large cascade that flows down one slick wall of a rock formation. The wall made the water look like it was threaded with silver glitter as it trickled down. I waded into the cool, clear water and listened to the calming sounds of the falls, as bright-yellow fish swam around me. Wish Bowl Falls was unquestionably worth the long walk to the end.

The trail is also open to hiking, biking, fly-fishing, Segways and Jeep tours. The park has a restaurant onsite and a beautiful treehouse that was magical for our four-year-old godson,
one that every little boy and even adults dream to own.

Bridges, caves and wildlife can also be seen throughout the preserve, plus there’s a bison habitat. The park is very accommodating to anyone with special needs and has strollers for rent for just a few dollars. There was so much to explore that it took my family the whole day to see it all. Each waterfall is a must-see and a must-hear. The park has a way of captivating you and lifting your spirits.

Dogwood Canyon Nature Park | www.dogwoodcanyon.org

Branson, Missouri, RV Parks
(about 30 miles from Lampe)
America’s Best Campground
Open year-round, but the office closes for winter from December 5 through mid-March. Winter rates start at $25.
800-671-4399 | www.abc-branson.com
Branson Lakeside RV Park
Open year-round.
417-334-2915 | www.bransonlakesidervpark.com


 

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