The Ozark Mountains stretch south of the Missouri River into Arkansas and west of the Mississippi River into eastern parts of Kansas and Oklahoma. The forested area has steep and rolling hills, caves, deep valleys, springs, rivers and lakes. Scenic views and a wide variety of outdoor activities, including canoeing and hiking, make the area a top vacation destination. Traditional crafts, music and hospitality are trademarks of Ozark towns.
The Ozarks region offers great summer and fall floating on rivers and streams. The Ozark National Scenic Riverways protects 134 miles of the Jacks Fork and Current Rivers. Canoeing, camping, fishing and swimming are the main activities of this area. The springs that feed the Jacks Fork and Current Rivers are spectacular. Hiking and horseback riding trails along the rivers provide excellent views of the Ozarks. Other popular floating and fishing rivers include the Meramec, Huzzah, Courtois and Black. Concessionaires along all these rivers provide canoe, raft and inner tube rentals and shuttle services.
The Ozarks provide a large selection of lakes for water sports and fishing. Missouri's top destination, Lake of the Ozarks, has 54,000 acres for boating, water sports and fishing. Just west of Lake of the Ozarks, the 55,600-acre Harry S. Truman Reservoir is a popular fishing and boating spot. In Branson, Table Rock, Taneycomo and Bull Shoals lakes provide an outdoor respite from the entertainment-filled city.
The Mark Twain National Forest includes more than 1.5 million acres of land for outdoor activities. There are more than 742 miles of off-roading, hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding trails. Camping and picnicking sites are available. A majority of the Missouri's state parks are located in the Ozarks. These parks offer camping, cabins, picnicking, hiking, boating, floating, fishing and caving. The Ozark Trail starts at Onondaga Cave State Park in Leasburg and covers 350 miles to the Arkansas border.
All Ozark roads provide scenic views in spring when the dogwoods and redbuds are in full bloom and in fall when the leaves are changing. Three National Forest Scenic Byways, Blue Buck Knob Scenic Byway, Glade Top Trail and Sugar Camp Scenic Byway traverse Mark Twain National Forest land.
Ozark cities and towns are known for their hospitality and mountain heritage. Many hold music and craft festivals throughout the summer and fall. Visitors can find antique and craft shops in most towns. Larger cities like Springfield and Branson offer museums and larger entertainment venues. Branson's Silver Dollar City features more than 100 live demonstrations of traditional crafts.
The Ozarks region is located in southern Missouri and is accessible via Interstate Highway 44, U.S. Highways 63, 65 and 67. Lodging is available in cities and towns throughout the region and includes: cabins, bed & breakfast, resorts and hotels.