If you are looking for something fun to do while close to Ridgedale, Missouri, be sure to check out Dogwood Canyon. About twenty minutes from Big Cedar – our home away from home for the week – is a 10,000 acre paradise in the Ozarks. I have been here three times and have loved every minute of each visit. The first time was in the off-season with our oldest daughter. The day was a perfect temperature with plenty of sunshine and cool breezes. Perfect for riding our “granny” bikes on the level blacktop pathway. You can also ride a tram, walk or ride segways if you prefer.
The second time, temperatures were brutal – over 100 with high humidity. There were six of us on this trip, and the combination of the high temps and two small kids made the tram a wise choice. The tram was a little more expensive, but we rode along the trails, splashing through the water on the roads, where the bicyclists were not allowed. There is a dry route for bikes, crossing the many beautiful bridges.
One advantage to the tram was that it went a little further. After the bikes had to halt and head back, the tram continued on past, so we could see lots of animals that were roaming free in the pastures. Our small grandson slept almost the whole way, but our granddaughter loved the animals, especially the buffalo. On our tram was an afternoon ration of food, so the animals were very glad to see us and came up close once we stopped. It was very exciting!
“The Wildlife Tour provides a comprehensive journey into this special property, taking about 2 hours. You will travel beyond the Glory Hole into the more rugged reaches of the canyon, cross the Arkansas border, and ascend some 300 feet to our bison, elk, and longhorn pastures. When possible, your driver will bring you very close to these majestic creatures while sharing facts about their heritage and habitat. Our trams, as well as other facilities within the park, are accessible to our guests with disabilities.” – READ MORE about the tram tour at Dogwood Canyon.
Our third visit was over this Fourth of July and we had our whole crew – eight altogether. We packed our PB&Js and headed out, leaving early to make sure we’d be able to get the sizes of bikes that we needed, and also to beat the heat. We were able to secure two kiddie carriers for the smaller kids and the rest of us got what we needed, which included bikes with baskets for all of the “stuff” we needed for the day. We lucked into fabulous weather, similar to our first visit. It was an absolutely perfect day and the kids had a blast. We stopped along the way for pictures and drinks and to check out the many waterfalls.
One excellent stop is the Hope Wilderness Chapel. It is so lovely with beautiful landscaping all around it. The chapel was not open when we were there, but we thoroughly enjoyed peeking in the windows and walking around the grounds.
“The Hope Wilderness Chapel, completed in 2002, is a replica of traditional places of worship from the 1800’s. Handcrafted by Dogwood Canyon staff members, the chapel features local materials including native short-leaf pine logs, rough-sawn oak flooring and an eastern red cedar ceiling. The chapel’s back wall, made entirely of windows, frames a picturesque view of one of many waterfalls at Dogwood Canyon.” – READ MORE about the Hope Wilderness Chapel
The Glory Hole is a beautiful pool of clear water fed by a waterfall, and is where we ended up having lunch on our way back out. A stone stairway lead us to a metal stairway, which lead us to the falls. From that vantage point, you can see the large rainbow trout swimming below and a bridge to yet another overlook around the bend.
The many waterfalls, the beautiful bridges, the fish, the lookout points and the gorgeous Missouri landscape, all make Dogwood Canyon the perfect way to spend time with family, that special someone, or just be by yourself. Two thumbs way up!