Johnny Morris, the owner of Bass Pro Shops and Cabella’s, is well-known around Missouri and has quite the presence in the Branson area. There is the original Bass Pro Shop in Springfield, Big Cedar Lodge, Top of the Rock Ozark Heritage Preserve and Golf Course, Dogwood Canyon, Buffalo Ridge Springs Golf Course, and an unopened wildlife museum and aquarium that has been in the works for the last ten years with an undetermined opening date. All of the properties are scenic with enhanced and contrived natural settings. They are also more expensive than we’d like to spend, but we got to experience a couple of the properties on discount during our visit to Branson.
Buffalo Ridge Springs Golf Course. Dani and I passed this on a geocaching adventure and stopped by to get a bottle of water from the gift shop and use the facilities. As soon as we parked, we were met by an employee on a golf cart asking if we’d like to be escorted to the golf course. He blinked in surprise when we said, “No, we’ll walk. We are only going to the gift shop.”
The gift shop had the usual golf paraphernalia (I’m not a golfer, in case that wasn’t obvious): golf shirts, shorts, shoes, clubs, hats, etc. There was a bar, a snack stand, and very nice restrooms. Everything was exorbitantly overpriced, even our bottled water. At least we can say we got to see it.
Big Cedar Lodge: Our geocaching done, we took a drive through Big Cedar Lodge, which is a resort of chalets, hotels, restaurants, coffee shops, man-made waterfalls, lush gardens, bridges, spas, and a chapel. It’s a gorgeous setting for family reunions, weddings, weekend getaways, etc. Again, it is exorbitantly overpriced, but it’s in Branson and tourists are the target.
We walked through the grounds and over a couple of the bridges. It was beautiful stroll and we enjoyed the scenery.
Top of the Rock Ozark Heritage Center and Golf Course: Another over-the-top property and probably my favorite, was Top of the Rock. There is a world class golf course and Johnny Morris had Arnold Palmer’s barn relocated to the property where it houses three restaurants. It has another chapel, this one with a front view of the golf course and a back view of a mountainside and lake. It’s quite a beautiful property.
What I found most fun at Top of the Rock was a golf cart “hike” through a winding road of mountains, rock formations, waterfalls, caves, and bridges. The golf carts had to be rented and a waiver signed because there was an alcohol bar mid-way through the tour. Here are a few of the sights on the tour:
Midway through the tour of the Ozark landscape, there is cave. Inside the cave is this–the drive through Bat Bar (pretty clever, I have to say).
Also at Top of the Rock was the Ozarks Heritage Museum. The museum was huge and definitely worth the time (at least three hours). While I took many pictures, the lighting was not ideal and it’s just better seen in person. Below are Johnny’s words:
I think his view on conservation is admirable. The properties, however, are not financially attainable for everyone. Behind-the-scenes with employee compensation and a true practice of conservation and respect for wildlife is not the actual reality as the public persona would suggest. Be that as it may, I don’t see the tourism in these areas going down anytime soon. Johnny knows what he’s doing.
It was a joy to share these places with Dani, my daughter. Our time together would have been enjoyable even if it were sitting at a picnic table at the campground, but we were among peaceful and tranquil surroundings. What lovely places.
I apologize because this blog is out of order, again. Here’s a relaxing rippling sound to make up for my procrastination.
Where we are: Splitting time between Alpena and Roscommon, Michigan.
Where we are Headed: Chicago, Illinois.
Blog Post Location: Branson, Missouri
Safe travels, Dawn