Tag Archives: Missouri

Skywatch Friday – Top of the Rock

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Still documenting the continuing saga of our family Spring Break Trip to Southwest MIssouri a couple weeks ago. Our second day we went to “Top of the Rock” which is a sister organization to Big Cedar Lodge and is right adjacent to it.  I was kind of confused about what Top of the Rock was before we went and I am still kind of confused.  The first part we ran into was the “Lost Canyon Cave and Nature Tour” which is kind of a self guided tour of a cave and series of waterfalls. It is not only self guided but they give you a golf cart to go in. No walking allowed!! To get the cart you fork over a pile of cash and sign the longest list of releases I have ever seen.  And then off you go!! Was it nice, sure, but there wasn’t much natural about it. The cave is fake, and many of the rocks are faked and I think that the waterfalls are fed by pumped water. Was it fun? Sure it was a lot of fun. Was it a rip off? No, they spent a fortune building the landscape and the trails and did a great job of it. The golf cart trail winds along a canyon and they have places to get out for photo opportunities. So think of it as a very slow ride that you can get off when you want. Am I glad I did it? Sure! Would I do it again? Nope!!

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A copy of the iconic End of the Trail sculpture by James Earle Fraser. What a setting on an infinity pool overlooking a lake.

From the parking lot of the Nature Trail, you take a shuttle bus to the rest of the complex. There is a beautifully set wedding chapel, a spectacular golf course and driving range, a wine bar in a cellar,  two very nice restaurants, a great Natural History Museum, and there is a hotel just starting construction. You can see why the complex is called “Top of the Rock” it is on top of a mountain overlooking Table Rock Lake. It is spectacular. We were there on a Sunday so everything is closing early but we will be back from some sunset dining there.

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Three story wedding chapel. 2 is the main floor, 3 is a loft, 1 is changing rooms ( I think) it has an elevator. How many quaint country chapels do you know have an elevator?

The stone wedding chapel. The back side overlooks the valley and lake below. What a place to exchange vows. And who knows, you pay enough money they might shoot off the cannon for you at the right moment.

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A view of the driving range and par 3 golf course. My friends tell me that it is an evil course. I would love to play it again.

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As much as we loved the outside, Heather and I thought the Ancient Ozarks Natural History Museum was a highlight. It is a sprawling museum covering everything from the ancient flora and fauna of the area and the heritage and history of the Native Americans from the area. The museum is very well done and has lots of unique items. Photography without a flash is permitted but it is so dim (to preserve the art and specimens on display” that it was hard to get a good photograph (cuz I am a rule follower especially when it comes to photography in museums).

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They had some Native American Pottery like I had never seen anywhere else, and we hit all the museums that we can.

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So here is the rest of my crew. We had a great time and will be back.

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Skywatch Friday – Dogwood Canyon Nature Park

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We went on a little Spring Break trip this past weekend to southwest Missouri. Monday we visited the Dogwood Nature Park near Lampe, Missouri. It is a 10,000 acre private preserve owned and operated by the nonprofit Dogwood Canyon Foundation. The land was originally acquired by Johnny Morris, owner of the Bass Pro Shops and the branding is very familiar. The park has a very nice, affordable restaurant, wildlife museum, and a gift shop.

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The Park has a beautiful tree house built by some famous television tree house guy. It is nice, very cozy with two levels, a deck and would be a perfect place to sit and read and get away from it all.

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What is about a treehouse that is so peaceful?

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The park offers walking, bicycling, tram tours, segway tours, trout fishing, and horseback riding. They even have a wedding chapel. They don’t have any accommodations or camping. Do your research before you show up. It costs $10 per person to enter which gets you access to the restaurant, museum, and gift shop and a short trail. If you want to go walking on into the canyon it will cost you and another $10 per person. Personally, I think it is worth it, but I understand others may differ.

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The park has about 10,000 acres organized up and down a canyon with a nice stream that has a lot of waterfalls feeding it. The water is crystal clear and you can see lots of big fat trout swimming around. For a fee you can go fly fishing on the property.  Apparently the best spot is right behind a wedding chapel.

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The stream is dammed up behind a series of weirs. The water pools up behind the weirs and spills down into the next pool. Bring your camera, there are lots of opportunities for photos. The trail is paved so I don’t know if you can really call it a hike or not but at least it is all weather. There a few side trails that are dirt but we didn’t take them.

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There are several waterfalls coming off the canyon into the stream. They are really beautiful. I think the walking trail is about six miles out and back. We didn’t get quite to the end  but close and turned back. It is uphill going into the canyon and downhill coming out so the second half was a lot easier than going in.

So are walk/hike was about 5.6 miles and we went a steady 20 minutes per mile including taking lots of photos and stopping to look at the sights. We finished up with a nice meal at the restaurant on site. It was a great family outing.

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