THE OZARKS: 25 Pictures That’ll Make You Want to Go

Sunset at Top of the Rock in the Ozarks

The Ozarks are an absolutely beautiful area of the United States, and I have 25 pictures to prove it.

This group of mountains spans across Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Lake of the Ozarks, in particular, has grown to be a very popular vacation destination. My recommendation, however, is to head to Table Rock Lake and Big Cedar Lodge

I promise that this place will not disappoint!

Sunset at Top of the Rock Golf Course in the The Ozarks

THE OZARKS ITINERARY SUMMARY

Day 1 Travel Day
Day 2 Explore Big Cedar
Day 3 Top of the Rock
Day 4 Bass Pro Shops Shooting Academy
Day 5 Dogwood Canyon Nature Park
Day 6 Lost Canyon Cave and Nature Trail
Day 7 Golf or more at Big Cedar

Travel to The Ozarks (Day 1)

Hopefully, your travel time from home is not too far and you arrive at Big Cedar early enough to enjoy the resort with some daylight left.

Big Cedar Lodge grounds in The Ozarks
Big Cedar Lodge cottage in The Ozarks

Accommodation options range from a room at one of the grand lodges, to cozy cottages or private log cabins, as well as glamping and camp cabins.

My group went with a log cabin and loved it.

Big Cedar (Day 2)

Spread out over 4,600 acres, there is definitely no shortage of things to do at Big Cedar.

For starters, you can hang out at the beautiful sandy beach, and then take a canoe, kayak or paddle boat out on the lake (no cost for resort guests). Jet skis, pontoons, and ski boats are available to rent at the marina, but for a fee.

Certainly, hours at the 5 separate pools, 6 hot tubs, and lazy river should be on your vacation agenda.

Big Cedar Lodge hot tubs in The Ozarks
Big Cedar Lodge infinity pool in The Ozarks
Infinity pool at Big Cedar overlooking Table Rock Lake

Additionally, there is mini-golf, beach volleyball, pickle ball, shuffleboard, a playground, gorgeous walking trails, and the list goes on and on.

And, of course, there’s Fun Mountain. There, you’ll find an arcade, underwater-themed bowling alley, go-carts, ropes course, laser tag, a huge climbing area featuring a pirate ship, and so much more.

Every day and night at Big Cedar, the Event Calendar is jammed with fun things to do. For us, we simply ran out of time to do it all!

Top of the Rock (Day 3)

If you’re any bit of a golfer, you MUST play the 9-hole golf course at Top of the Rock. Located right next to the Big Cedar property, every hole is so picturesque that it’s a bit tough to focus on your shots (at least, this was my personal experience)!

While pretty pricey, it is such a memorable experience. And so, at least to me, it was much more than just another round of golf.

Chapel of The Ozarks at Top of the Rock

The island green was particularly challenging, but beautiful…

Top of the Rock Golf island green in The Ozarks

And, they saved the best for last with hole #9. This picture just does not quite show how spectacular the view is here of Table Rock Lake.

Top of the Rock hole 9 view in The Ozarks

In the evening, dine at one of the three Top of the Rock restaurants.

Above all, don’t miss their sunset ceremony. Every night, 10 minutes before sunset a bagpiper performs, which is followed by the firing of a Civil War cannon as guests raise their glasses in salute of the sunset over Table Rock Lake. Truly, this experience is breathtaking.

Sunset and statue at Top of the Rock in The Ozarks

Shooting Academy (Day 4)

Be sure to book a reservation at the Bass Pro Shops Shooting Academy. It’s a unique, fun experience for most all ages.

For kids ages 6 to 12, there is a one-hour instructional session with BB guns. An intro to clay shooting option is available for kids 12 to 17. And for adults, there’s clay target shooting for novice to intermediate shooters. A guide is included with each session.

This experience will take just a couple of hours, so perhaps grab a morning reservation so you can head back to Big Cedar in the afternoon to enjoy more of everything that the resort has to offer.

Dogwood Canyon Nature Park (Day 5)

About a half-hour from Big Cedar is a beautiful place called Dogwood Canyon Nature Park. This 10,000-acre area in The Ozarks offers a variety of activities including:

Dogwood Canyon Nature Park waterfall in the Ozarks

Lost Canyon Cave and Nature Trail (Day 6)

Back near Big Cedar, be sure to leave time to head back to Top of the Rock for the Lost Canyon Cave and Nature Trail.

This 2.5-mile journey in a 4-person electric cart takes you past amazing rock formations, waterfalls, and jaw-dropping overlooks of Table Rock Lake.

Lost Canyon Cave and Nature Trail waterfall in The Ozarks
Lost Canyon Cave and Nature Trail bridge in The Ozarks

The coolest part of the tour is driving into the 4-story Lost Canyon Cave. Inside, is a huge waterfall, viewing balconies, and the “Bat Bar” serving a variety of drinks.

Golf or more at Big Cedar (Day 7)

If you’re a golfer, the courses in this area of The Ozarks are second to none. For starters, you have to play Tiger Woods’ new course that opened in 2020 called Payne’s Valley.

The views are awe-inspiring. The course is immaculate. The design is perfect. Players of all skill level can play this course as many of the fairways are very wide open.

Payne's Valley Golf Course in The Ozarks

A unique feature to this course, too, is the dramatic 19th, “bonus hole”. It is now considered one of “the most remarkable golf holes in the world.”

The par-3 features a narrow island green framed by massive limestone and waterfalls. The clubhouse is at the top overlooking the hole.

Finally, the lake that surrounds the hole is stocked with trout and largemouth bass, so golfers have the opportunity to feed the fish while they play.

Payne's Valley Golf Course Hole 18 in The Ozarks
I wish I had more pictures of this hole! It wasn’t complete when I played the course in 2020.

Even more nearby golf courses in The Ozarks

Another course to play, even if you’re just a novice golfer, is Tom Watson’s Putting Course. The course has 9 challenging putting holes, which sits high atop the Ozark Mountains.

Right next to it is Ozarks National (hole #1 and clubhouse shown here).

The Ozark National Golf Course hole 1

Two more golf courses not to be missed in this same area:

  • Mountain Top – 13-hole short course
  • Buffalo Ridge – 18-hole course featuring natural rock formations, caves, creeks, lakes and waterfalls

If golf is not on your vacation agenda, another day at Big Cedar is sure to be good for the soul.

Big Cedar Lodge Table Rock Lake sunset in The Ozarks

More time in The Ozarks?

  • Branson – just 10 minutes from Big Cedar, this town is a popular destination for vacationers.
  • Lake of the Ozarks – Missouri’s most popular lake, featuring more shoreline than the state of California.

Pin this Ozarks itinerary for later!

The Ozarks Top of the Rock sunset

More ideas for The Ozarks.

What do YOU recommend? Please include your tips in the comments section below

And, be sure to follow “Whoa, What a View” on social media to see the comments other travelers are leaving there about their favorite parts of The Ozarks and surrounding areas. 


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Tags: Big Cedar Lodge, Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri, Table Rock Lake, The Ozarks, Top of the Rock
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