Explore Branson's Variety of Outdoor Tourism with Parks and Attractions
The theaters and shows in Branson are naturally entertaining, but for the visitor who revels in the outdoors--whether it's landing that big catch, hiking, biking, water sports or taking in a relaxing picnic--there are a variety of ways to enjoy the natural aspects of Branson.
Nature is home to some of the most elegant works of art and beauty, and you can see many of them at the Butterfly Place. This indoor exhibit is home to more than 50 species of butterfly! Get ready to see some of the most diverse and beautiful creatures and plants in the world.
Missouri, the "cave state" boasts more than 5,000 registered caves. In fact, Missouri has more caves than any other state and more "show caves" (caves open for tours) than any other state. Marvel Cave, located at Silver Dollar City, is one of America's three largest caverns. Underground, the cave soars to 20 stories! The cavern is so large, in fact, that hot air balloons have been launched in the main room.
The Branson/Lakes Area is nestled in the scenic Ozark Mountains, surrounded by three pristine lakes. Table Rock Lake, Lake Taneycomo, and Bull Shoals Lake offer outdoor enthusiasts a wide array of recreational activities. Visitors can swim, water ski, boat, sail, ride a horse, scuba dive, jet-ski, parasail, kayak and of course, fish. All three lakes offer camping and picnicking facilities and easy access to the water through public marinas and boat docks. Several commercial docks provide fuel, supplies and a wide range of boat and water-sport rentals. Rentals include water-sport equipment such as kayaks, windsurfers and scuba diving gear.
More than 200 species of fish can be found in Missouri's lakes and in the Branson/Lakes Area--trout and bass fishing are the very best. Fishing boats can also be rented specifically for bass or trout fishing - depending on the lake. Anyone who fishes must have the appropriate lifetime, annual or daily fishing permit, or qualify for an exemption. Fishing licenses and trout permits as well as bait and tackle are also available at area marinas. Exemptions include anyone fishing on their own land, a Missouri resident 65 years or older or a resident or non-resident 15 years old or younger.
Rental boats and equipment for water activities can be found at many of the lakefront resorts and the following marina facilities:
Table Rock Lake
- Port of Kimberling, Marina and Campground
- State Park Marina/State Park Dive Shop
- Table Rock Marina/Scuba Sports
- Lilly's Landing Resort and Marina
- Main Street Marina
Bull Shoals Lake
- Branson Highway K Marina
Hiking the variety of trails in the area offers a quiet and relaxing way to experience the unusual beauty of the Ozarks. The terrain is a unique combination of forested hillsides, open grassland, steep rocky inclines, open glades, winding streams and rivers, and numerous caves. For short hikes near Branson, try Ruth and Paul Henning State Forest, Dewey Short Visitor Center, Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery, Busiek State Forest, or Lakeside Forest Wilderness Area
The Ozark Mountains qualify as some of the best mountain biking between the Rockies and the Appalachians. With hundreds of miles of roads and trails within the Mark Twain National Forest you can take advantage of any season. Spring is a great time to ride with cool temperatures, mild weather and flowering dogwoods and redbuds. In the fall, the colorful foliage and cooler temperatures make an ideal time for a trip, while mild winters make riding possible year round.
State Parks and Recreation Areas
- Henning State Forest is located just west of Branson in the rugged White River Hills region. Here, visitors will find 1,534 acres of scenic vistas and miles of walking trails. The trees are labeled for a natural tutorial.
- The Busiek State Forest and Conservation Area is located 14 miles north of Branson and covers 2,505 acres with steep, rocky hills and gravel bottom creeks. Visitors can enjoy hunting, fishing, hiking, camping and bird watching. Self-guided nature trails and the tranquil surroundings are ideal for communing with nature.
- The Drury-Mincy Conservation Area is approximately 12 miles southeast of Branson. The massive 5,699-acre wildlife area was the conservation department's first deer refuge. Visitors can camp, hike, bird watch and fish in the rushing stream.
Whether diving in for a day filled with activities, taking a hike or waking before dawn in search of a championship catch, Branson has the perfect way for visitors to experience Branson's outdoor pleasures.