A guide to Lake of the Ozarks
By Ron Cobb
Post-Dispatch Travel Editor
Thursday, May. 29 2003
Based on its name, the Lake Area Chamber of Commerce does not sound like the
kind of place a visitor to the Lake of the Ozarks is going to be certain to
stop and see.
But it's worth a visit, no matter how fleeting. The Chamber of Commerce is
located at Willmore Lodge and Museum, a spot that offers one of the best views
of the Lake.
The lodge is also a good place to learn about the history of the Lake.
Willmore Lodge, built in 1930, is something of a hidden gem, and we hope you'll
discover a few more gems in this guide to the Lake of the Ozarks.
4 places to watch a sunset
* Willmore Lodge and Museum. In Lake Ozark, off Business 54 north of Bagnell
Dam. Call 1-800-451-4117
* From a boat, virtually anywhere on the lake.
* AmerenUE Bagnell Dam Scenic Overlook. In Lake Ozark, off Business 54 north of
* Ha Ha Tonka State Park, at the castle. Take Highway 54 west out of Camdenton
to State Road D.
6 places to cool off on a hot day
* Ha Ha Tonka State Park. One of Missouri's largest springs is found in the
park, sending millions of gallons of water a day into the Niangua Arm of the
lake. Find a cool spot just below the springs. (above)
* Big Surf Waterpark. Located at Highway 54 and Y Road in Linn Creek, Big Surf
offers all sorts of ways to get wet, including water rides and a wave pool.
All-day passes range from $6.95 to $21.95. Call 1-573-346-6111 or go to
* Bridal Cave. For reasons that the people at the cave will be happy to
explain, the cave is immune to temperature changes outside. It stays 60 degrees
year-round inside Bridal Cave, located just north of Camdenton on Highway 5.
Admission is $12 for adults and $6 for children 5 to 12. Call 1-573-346-2676 or
go to www.bridalcave.com.
* Jacob's Cave. This cave is even chillier, at 53 degrees year-round. It's
located five miles south of Versailles off Highway 5 on Morgan County State
Road TT. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children 4 to 12. Call
1-573-378-4374 or go to www.jacobscave.com.
* Ozark Caverns. It's 56 degrees in this cave, located off the A Road in Lake
of the Ozarks State Park. Call 1-573-346-2500.
* In the lake. With 54,000 acres of water running 92 miles from end to end, the
Lake of the Ozarks offers plenty of places to jump in and cool off.
3 places to go to take a boat ride
* The Lodge of Four Seasons marina. This is the place to catch a ride on Tropic
Island Cruises' 75-foot, 150-passenger yacht. Scenic cruises are offered
Tuesday through Sunday, 3 to 4:30, for $14 a person. Private charters are their
specialty. Their season runs April 1 through Nov. 1. Call
1-573-348-0083 or go to www.tropicislandcruises.com. (right)
* Bagnell Dam in Lake Ozark. At the north end of the Bagnell Dam Strip, you can
buy a ticket for an outing on the Commander or the Larry Don excursion boats
(call 1-573-365-2020) or the Tom Sawyer excursion boat (1-573-365-3300). The
Commander and Larry Don begin operation around May 1, offering two-hour cruises
at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m., a one-hour cruise at 4 p.m., a sunset cruise and a
dinner cruise. Prices are $10 for two hours, $8 for one hour, $12 for the
sunset cruise and $18.75 for the dinner cruise. In general, children are
half-price, and 6 and under are free. On the Tom Sawyer, one-hour scenic
cruises are $7.45 plus tax for adults, $4.75 for children. Two-hour dinner
cruises depart at 7 p.m. and are $18.65.
* Celebration cruise yacht. This 150-passenger, 80-foot vessel departs from
Lighthouse Drive, a quarter-mile east of the Grand Glaize Bridge in Osage
Beach. Scenic cruises are $14 a person; dinner cruises are $34.95 plus tax and
gratuity. Charters also are available. More information:
5 places for a family hike
* Coakley Hollow Trail. This mile-long, self-guided interpretive trail begins
and ends at Ozark Caverns in Lake of the Ozarks State Park. Take Highway 54 to
the A Road and follow it for eight miles.
* Lake View Bend Trail. Also in Lake of the Ozarks State Park, this is a
one-mile trail. Enter the park off Highway 42 in Osage Beach.
* Shady Ridge Trail. It's only a half-mile long, located near Public Beach #2
in Lake of the Ozarks State Park.
* Trail of Four Winds Overlook. Again in Lake of the Ozarks State Park, a
two-mile hike to the overlook begins near the horse stables. The entire trail
is six miles. From Highway 54, take Highway 42 to State Road 134.
* Rocky Top Trail. You can find it in Lake of the Ozarks State Park at Public
Beach #2. The three-mile trail passes by a scenic overlook where you can see
the lake from the top of a bluff.
(Some trails will be hard to follow without a map. Trail maps can be found at
most of the trailheads or at any of the park offices in the Lake of the Ozarks'
3 places for serious hikers or backpackers
* Woodland Trail. Six miles, Lake of the Ozarks State Park. Take Highway 54 to
Highway 42 to State Road 134.
* Trail of Four Winds. Six miles, Lake of the Ozarks State Park.
* Turkey Pen Hollow Trail. Seven miles, Ha Ha Tonka State Park. Take Highway 54
west to State Road D. Backpackers should register at the park office or at the
5 great views of the lake
* Rocky Top Trail. On top of the bluff. (above)
* Willmore Lodge and Museum.
* AmerenUE Bagnell Dam Scenic Overlook.
* Ha Ha Tonka State Park.
* Lake View Bend Trail. This milelong trail is off Highway 42 in Lake of the
Ozarks State Park.
2 places to take your mountain bike
* BMX Track. Take Highway 54 and turn onto Riverview Campground Road, just
before the Osage River Bridge. Watch for the signs. Go to www.lakebmx.com.
* Trail of Four Winds. It's not only for hikers, but mountain bikes and horses,
4 places to watch golf from a boat
* Club at Porto Cima, (right) at the 16-mile marker. Boaters like to hang out
in the cove alongside the golf course's 16th green and the entire 17th hole.
Some take pleasure in cheering or booing (good-naturedly!) the golfers' shots.
The cove is a good place to view the finest golf course at the Lake.
* Witch's Cove, at the 13-mile marker. Don't venture too far into this cove or
you might get plunked by a golf ball. This golf course, which the Lodge of Four
Seasons called the Robert Trent Jones Sr. course until last year, is now named
for the cove over which golfers must hit their shots on the treacherous par-3
13th hole. It's a 227-yard carry from the blue tees, or 175/195 from the
whites. Some golfers aren't up to the challenge, but this is a test of
machismo, so many will go down swinging and send several balls to their new
home at the bottom of the cove.
* The Oaks Course at Tan-Tar-A, at the 21-mile marker. If they set up here,
boaters can watch golfers take aim at the green at the par-3 14th hole.
* Seasons Ridge, at the 1-mile marker. Boaters can watch from a safe distance
as golfers try to carry a small cove at the par-3 eighth hole.
3 places to stargaze
* Ha Ha Tonka State Park, at the castle.(above) Call 1-573-346-2986
* Lake of the Ozarks State Park. Off Highway 54 in Osage Beach, take the first
left after entering the park and go to the Pa He Tsi parking lot at Public
Beach #2. Call 1-573-348-2694
* On the lake in the Glaize Arm, because it is less developed and has little
competing light at night.
2 places to go horseback riding
*Tan-Tar-A Resort stables. The resort is on State Road KK in Osage Beach. The
cost is $20 plus tax for a trail ride of about 45 minutes. 1-573-348-3131
* Ozark Homestead
Riding Stables. At Lake of the Ozarks State Park stables. Hours are 9 a.m. to
dusk; open year-round. Rates are $20 a person for a one-hour guided ride and
$45 for a 2 1/2-hour ride. Pony rides are $5 for a half-hour. Also available
are all-day rides with lunch and overnight rides with dinner and breakfast,
with sleeping bags and tents furnished.
2 places to watch bald eagles
(December through January)
* Willmore Lodge and Museum. (above)It celebrates Eagle Days in January.
* AmerenUE Bagnell Dam Scenic Overlook. See eagles above and below the dam and
on Business 54 just over the dam.
4 places to learn about the history of the Lake of the Ozarks
*Camden County Museum. In Linn Creek, on V Road off Highway 54. 1-573-346-7191
* Miller County Museum. In the Anchor Mill Building in Tuscumbia on West
Highway 52. 1-573-793-6998
* Morgan County Museum. At 118 North Monroe in Versailles. 1-573-378-5530
* Willmore Lodge and Museum.
Lake of the Ozarks Convention & Visitor Bureau, 1-800-386-5253; www.funlake.com
Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, 1-800-451-4117; www.lakeareachamber.com
Camdenton Chamber of Commerce, 1-800-769-1004; www.camdentonchamber.com
Lake of the Ozarks West Chamber of Commerce, 1-877-227-4086;
Eldon Chamber of Commerce, 1-573-392-3752; www.eldonchamber.com
Versailles Chamber of Commerce, 1-573-378-4401; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Missouri Department of Conservation, 1-573-346-2210
Missouri Department of Natural Resources, 1-800-361-4827
Missouri State Water Patrol, 1-573-346-2243
Factory Outlet Village, 1-573-348-2065; www.osageoutlets.com