In Branson, Missouri you will never run out of ways to fill your vacation time. The scenic Ozark Mountains and the area lakes offer a wide variety of outdoor activities. Some of the most relaxing fun you can have is sight-seeing through your car windows. For the more adventurous the Branson Lakes area is ideal for hiking, camping, fishing, canoeing, picnicking, nature study, birdwatching, cave exploration and horseback riding.
Lakeside Wilderness Area
Lakeside Wilderness Area is in the city limits of Branson and is open from 7am - 7pm. The 130 acre park is located on Fall Creek Road just 2 blocks south of 76 Blvd., not far from The Dixie Stampede. The rugged hiking trails offer many scenic views. The original trail is an aerobic experience with its 315 stone steps. The new trail is less physically challenging with a flatter course.
Shepherd of the Hills Trout Hatchery
Shepherd of the Hills Trout Hatchery is the state's largest trout-rearing facility and is located on Hwy 165 just below Table Rock Dam. The hatchery produces more than 350,000 pounds of trout each year. 80% of the rainbow and brown trout are placed in Lake Taneycomo. Visitors may tour the hatchery or walk 1 of 4 nature trails on a year round basis. You can enjoy exhibits, aquariums with live trout and other fish, and a multi-media presentation. Tours of the hatchery are free.
Dewey Short Center
The Dewey Short Center is just south of the dam on Hwy 165. Its climate controlled visitor's center offers a look at the plants and wildlife of the lakes area as well as historical information about Table Rock Dam and the White River Basin. Weekdays from May thru October, visitors can explore the secrets of the Table Rock Powerhouse during guided tours that wind deep below Table Rock Lake. After your tour, take a dip in the lake at the swimming beach or stroll down one of the nature trails.
Busiek State Forest and Conservation Area
The Busiek State Forest and Conservation Area is located 14 miles north of Branson and covers 2,505 acres of steep, rocky hills, and gravel bottom creeks. Visitors can enjoy hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, and bird watching.
Trek the Ozarks
Trek the Ozarks is one of the area's newest recreational opportunities. They feature kayaking, canoeing and mountain biking from downtown Branson to Rockaway Beach. From mild to wild, easy going to hard core, they have an adventure for you. All of their tours focus on instruction, environmental awareness and, above all, fun.
Henning State Forest
The Henning State Forest is just west of Branson on Hwy. 76 in the White River Hills region. The 1,534 acre park offers many self-guided trails through the forest. You can enjoy bird watching, scenic vistas, and nature studies. Many of the trees are labeled to assist you in your studies. A naturalist is on duty to answer questions and lead interpretive walks. A half mile long asphalt trail leads to a 40 ft. viewing tower which provides an excellent view of the area.
Dogwood Canyon Nature Park sprawls across the Missouri-Arkansas border, just south of Branson, MO., and is reached on Missouri Highway 86, approximately 16 miles west of Big Cedar Lodge and U.S. Highway 65.
So many opportunities await you at this incredible 10,000-acre parcel of unspoiled Ozarks landscape. Aside from a few amenities to make the park more accessible to our visitors, the rugged landscape has been left untouched and, with just a little imagination, you can travel backward 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.