Explore Branson, MO

The Outdoors are Calling

Open-air adventure awaits

By Marissa Selby

If ever there was a true haven for outdoor enthusiasts, Branson might be it. Within the vast expanse of lush forests, you’ll find more than 100,000 acres to explore and miles of trails to trek. You’ll also discover three pristine lakes, brimming with fish of every size and shorelines that stretch on for hundreds of miles.

The beauty and majesty of the Ozarks lends itself to outdoor adventure, and Branson has embraced this role whole-heartedly. From raucous water spots to starry-skied campouts and jaw-dropping hikes, you’ll find the perfect way to treat your inner nature-lover. For those who prefer to get their sun while hitting the links, Branson is home to award-winning courses featuring some of the greatest names in golf —including a new course designed by Tiger Woods. 

So grab your trusty pair of hiking boots and read on— the outdoors are calling, and you must go.

Make a Splash

Do you dream of sun, sparkling waters and sunscreen-soaked days at the lake? Head to Table Rock, Taneycomo or Bull Shoals to dive into a world of watersports, world-class fishing and boating designed to suit every style. These pristine lakes are easily accessible, and visitors can even choose to stay at luxurious lakeside resorts, house rentals or well-equipped campgrounds. 

But no matter where you choose to check-in, the lake offers many activities to check out. Head to State Park Marina, where you can find a huge variety of rentals, including boats, wave runners, slips and even bicycles and fishing supplies. The premier slide boat is a favorite among families and comes with a double-decker slide to launch users into the lake. Or maybe you’d like to rent a ski boat and feel it roar to life for an adrenaline-pumping day of waterskiing, wakeboarding, and kneeboarding. You’re also able to rent canoes and paddle boats, but if you prefer to sit back and enjoy the ride, you can sign up for boat tours that come with a USCG-licensed captain to ferry you around the lake before returning safely to shore.

But no matter where you choose to check-in, the lake offers many activities to check out.

For a relaxing and rejuvenating activity that tests your physical prowess while boosting your inner-self, ask the State Park Marina about paddleboarding. While it may provide a full-body workout, you’ll be too entranced by the serenity of your surroundings and the soft dip of your paddle in the water to notice. This is one of few watersports that requires little training (although classes and tours are still the best way to master the craft) and that welcomes participants of all ages. 

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Take the paths less traveled

The vast wilderness of the Ozarks has beckoned explorers for generations, with each new wave carving out paths that would become beloved trails and campgrounds.

The Branson area offers more than 200 miles of these trails, perfect for hiking, biking and even horseback riding. They stretch across a collection of publicly accessible city, state and federal forests, as well as parks and conservations, like the 1,574-acre Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area that draws in wildlife lovers from around the country.

You’ll have your pick of terrains, be it river or lakeside, grassy knolls, shaded forests or rocky hillsides. There are even caves to (carefully) explore, should you feel like trying your hand at spelunking. No matter your skill level, hikers and cyclists will appreciate the wide variety of trails available. You can find flat, paved paths—like the 2.2-mile Table Rock Lakeshore Trail—that allow for even the smallest cyclists to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors. Perhaps you’ll take on a rugged mountain bike adventure in the White River valley. Or maybe you’ll don your trusted backpack and set off on the popular Piney Creek and Hercules Glades Wilderness trails. Up on Wolfe Mountain, you can even plan to add some zip to your trip and soar through the wilderness with Branson Zipline Canopy Tours. 

The choice is yours, and the possibilities are nearly endless.    

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Fit to a tee

Not all outdoor adventure is confined to the woods. Branson is rapidly becoming home to some of the biggest names and courses on a golfer’s bucket list. Names like Nicklaus, Fazio and Player attract golfers and tournaments from around the country. Now, there’s one more name to add to that list. 

After a 14-year wait, golf superstar Tiger Woods has debuted his first public design, a par-72 course with a 19th hole that is located at Big Cedar Lodge. Named Payne’s Valley after Missouri’s legendary Payne Stewart, this new course offers an impressive 116 acres of meticulously maintained turf set against stunning backdrops of tranquil ponds, lush forests and limestone outcrops. 

Natural beauty and attention to detail is reflected in Branson’s other courses. Ledgestone Country Club plays with the Ozarks’ peaks and valleys, while Top of the Rock pairs its par-3 course (the first of its kind to be included in a PGA event) with stunning views of Table Rock Lake. With a total of 10 unique courses to choose from, many of them resplendent with an ever-mounting pile of nationally recognized awards and accolades, beginners and pros alike will discover that a great day on the links is par for the course in Branson.

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