The natural beauty of southern Missouri is stunning. Rugged hills covered with oak and hickory, and deep hollows teaming with flora and fauna, meld seamlessly with the clear, spring-fed waters found throughout the region. Near Branson, Table Rock Lake’s scenic setting is the perfect base camp for families looking to experience the great outdoors.
With more than 43,000 acres of water and 800 miles of shoreline, Table Rock is surrounded by a stunning landscape with diverse opportunities for nature-loving families. Deer, wild turkey, raccoons and even an occasional black bear roam the hills. For birders, eagles, turkey vultures, hawks and various waterfowl can also be seen soaring above the landscape. Other critters you are likely to encounter include woodchucks, roadrunners and red fox.
Probably the best way to explore the natural wonder of Table Rock Lake is by water. In addition to traditional boating, the lake is very popular with stand-up paddleboarders, kayakers and canoe enthusiasts. The hundreds of coves and secluded stretches of water provide serenity and a great appreciation for the area’s natural beauty.
James River Outfitters is located along the James River just before it stretches into Table Rock Lake. The James is a great leisurely float and a beautiful way to experience the Ozarks.
Another unique option for experiencing the great outdoors is The Shepherd of the Hills Adventure Park. The Ozark mountains lend the perfect backdrop for a day full of adventure and family fun. Their new adventure park provides experience for leisure seekers, adrenaline junkies and anyone in between. This new attraction includes a multi-level ropes course, a scenic canopy zipline tour, a blazing fast vigilante ziprider and more!
If you’re interested in must-sees, a trip to the Dewey Short Visitor Center is definitely in order. The interpretive area hosts a wealth of knowledge. Gain a greater understanding of the region’s complex ecosystem, and how the natural resources are maintained, from exhibits about the White River Watershed and local habitats. Be sure to step out on the viewing deck overlooking Table Rock Lake, the dam and Lake Taneycomo (formed by the tail water of Table Rock Lake).
For a unique excursion, a visit to Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery, below Table Rock dam, is one of the best family activities you’ll encounter. Run by the Missouri Department of Conservation, take a guided or self-guided tour of the state’s largest fish hatchery, producing nearly 400,000 pounds of rainbow and brown trout each year. The hatchery features a visitor center with exhibits and displays, a pavilion and picnic tables, nearly three miles of hiking trails, and a wildlife-viewing blind and tower.
Hiking and biking
Dogwood Canyon Nature Park sprawls across the Missouri-Arkansas border, just south of Table Rock Lake. This 2,200-acre slice of Ozarks paradise is incredible. Created by Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris, visitors can choose from self-guided walking or biking trails, guided tram tours, trout fishing or horseback riding.
Talking Rocks Cavern located in Branson West not only offers guided tours through their beautiful cave, but they also have a hiking trail winding through their grounds, along with other outdoor activities.
Table Rock State Park is located near the lake’s dam and offers some great options for outdoors recreation, too. If you’re looking for an easy lakeside stroll, try the Table Rock Lakeshore Trail. The trail is 2.25 miles in length and runs along the shoreline, between the Dewey Short Visitor Center and State Park Marina. It’s easy to navigate and wheelchair accessible.
For something more vigorous, the White River Valley Trail System has four loops and covers 11.75 miles of very scenic and rugged terrain. The loops are best suited for those seeking a challenging hike or mountain bike ride, and will definitely get your blood pumping. Elevations range from 700 to 1,200 feet.
Branson, Missouri Adventures
Table Rock Lake is located in and around Branson, Missouri. Branson is home to dozens of attractions. Here you can go speeding in go-carts at The Track Family Fun Parks, make waves along Lake Taneycomo in Branson Jet Boats, soar through the hills via a Mountain Coaster or zipline among the tree canopy. Click here to see all Branson attractions.