Johnny Morris lives a life committed to making the outdoors accessible for all. A new feature in the Table Rock area that’s been seven years in the making by Morris opened a few months ago: the Lost Canyon Cave & Nature Trail at Top of the Rock Ozarks Heritage Preserve in Ridgedale, Missouri. Lost Canyon demonstrates the famed outdoorsman’s commitment for all to enjoy great outdoor adventures.
Lost Canyon Cave & Nature Trail doesn’t have much to do with hunting or fishing, two things the founder of Bass Pro Shops is known for, but it does highlight a very beautiful place in the world. And it does fall into the category of “enjoying the outdoors.” Top of the Rock’s motto is “the only thing we overlook is the view of Table Rock Lake.” Their attention to detail is paramount. Year-round the trail is traveled via four-seat electric golf carts, but guided hiking trips of the 2.5-mile path are available at specific times most Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays through the end of October.
Enjoy magnificent views of Table Rock Lake, stunning waterfalls and rock formations, and the breathtaking Lost Canyon Cave, which features a cascading four-story waterfall.
“The people of our company believe very strongly that the future of our industry, the sports we serve, and the sports we personally enjoy are absolutely more dependent upon our conservation efforts or how we manage our natural resources than anything else,” said Morris. “It is far more important than any catalog we mail, any new store we open, or any new products our vendors create.” Morris and his team value conserving natural habitat, and in the case of this effort, the waterfalls and natural caves are a big part of the mystique.
“The trail winds in and around the natural rock formations above Table Rock with spectacular views,” said Penny Webb of Hot Springs Village, Arkansas on her inaugural adventure with husband, Dr. Paul Fitzgerald. “The caverns and waterfalls were incredible. I kept thinking, ‘I need to come back with my grandkids and my mom.’”
The trail takes about 45 to 50 minutes to ride on the carts, or double that time to hike. Reservations are recommended, parking is free. The rides are approximately $20 per person ($10 for kids and three and under are free) or $25 per person for the guided hike, however hikers must be at least 12 years old. Famed Big Cedar Lodge is just down the road and the Top of the Rock golf course and restaurant are a free shuttle ride up the hill. The scenery from all of these properties is stunning, but a chance to get deep into a cavern and witness the steady stream of numerous waterfalls will make any heart race. In fact, a cavern tavern serving adult beverages is located inside the cave offering an opportunity to relax for a spell before continuing with the journey.
It does not feel like an amusement park ride. Rather, it feels like Morris ordered up special care to create a wide, curbed-and-paved trail cut into an incredible part of nature most of us would otherwise never see. Quaint covered bridges and the cavern tavern add a little pizzazz. All in, it is probably the best $20 one can spend in the greater Branson area, making the cost per ooh and ah very reasonable.
K.J. Houtman is the author of the award-winning Fish On Kids Books series, chapter books for eight- to 12-year-olds with adventures based around fishing, camping, and hunting. Her work is available at Amazon and local bookstores. Find out more at fishonkidsbooks.com.