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  • Kate Nelson

WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE SOUTHWESTERN MISSOURI

There are tons of fun, adventurous, beautiful and naturey (yes, that is a word) things to do in Missouri! We have been to the Southwest portion of the state a few times and had a fabulous time each visit! We have spent time in Branson and Ridgedale – each offers a variety of entertainment and outdoor venues for everyone! We thought we would share a few of our favorites!


DOGWOOD CANYON NATURE PARK


One of our favorite places to visit is Dogwood Canyon Nature Park located in Lampe, MO. Dogwood Canyon is a 10,000-acre “outdoor playground” that has hiking, biking, fishing, wild life viewing – you name it. And, here is why we love it and what makes it wheelchair accessible:

  1. Paved Trails: Dogwood Canyon offers 6.5 miles of paved trails that take you through beautiful scenery, over wooden bridges, past waterfalls and then across the border to Arkansas! You can say you wheeled from one state to the next and back! Most of the waterfalls are accessible as well, some may require a little assistance depending on your chair, but we were able to get behind them for a different perspective.

  2. Conservation Center: Directly across from the restaurant, is an educational area, located on the 2nd floor, designed to teach guests about wildlife, forestry, history and conservation. It is very interactive and completely wheelchair accessible.

3. Wheelchair Accessible Treehouse: This amazing treehouse was built by Treehouse Master’s (as seen on Animal Planet). Enter this fun treehouse using the swinging bridge from the 2nd floor of the Conservation Center. Don’t worry, it doesn’t really “swing” and the power wheelchair had no issues getting over it. It is pretty cool that a wheelchair can be up in a treehouse!! The bottom portion of the is accessible as well!

4. Mill & Canyon Grill: A fabulous restaurant located on the river with fresh fish and delicious food! The dining room has beautiful views and was completely accessible.

5. Wildlife Tours: You can request a wildlife tram tour that will take you on a similar path as the paved trails, with a little extra to see more wildlife. However, we decided not to take this tour because we were told the wheelchair would not be able to disembark at the stops with the other guests as it would be timely and they had a schedule. This may be OK for some people, but for our family it wasn’t, so we passed. We are thankful they offer it, but it wasn’t the right fit for us.


Overall, Dogwood Canyon is a beautiful place to visit. We have been in the fall and in the spring, when the cherry blossoms are blooming, and both times were amazing! Tickets may be purchased in advance with the proceeds benefiting conservation efforts. For more information click here: https://dogwoodcanyon.org/


TOP OF THE ROCK


Another favorite of ours is Top of The Rock in Ridgedale, MO. Top of the Rock is near Big Cedar Lodge and overlooks Table Rock Lake, which is gorgeous. There is a golf course, amazing dining, a humongous natural history museum and a canyon cave trail nature walk! Here is why we recommend this stop:

  1. Ancient Ozarks Natural History Museum: This museum is HUGE!!! It’s located below the facilities and takes you through time as you learn the history of Missouri – starting with dinosaurs through ancient times, the civil war and present day. This museum has one of the largest collections of arrowheads, pottery and baskets we have ever seen as well as amazing cowboy history! It really is a must-do if you’re in the area. For ticket information click: https://bigcedar.com/activity/ancient-ozarks-history-museum/

2. Lost Canyon Cave and Nature Trail: This trail can

be enjoyed via golf cart (not accessible) or by taking a guided walking tour of the 2.5-mile trail. We opted for the walking tour and had a great time with our tour guide listening to the history and taking in amazing views! There are a few wooden bridges on the trail and some low points with water, however there are platforms next to the water for wheelchairs to avoid water and/or slick rocks. When you enter the cave portion it may be a little bumpy, however it didn’t last long and we were able to enjoy all aspects. Reservations are required for the nature walk and can be booked here: https://bigcedar.com/activity/scenic-nature-walk/

3. Dining: We love good food and great culinary experiences, and so do our kids! There are plenty places to choose from. We have experienced Arnie’s Barn, Osage Restaurant and Buffalo Bar. Each offers unique cuisine and extraordinary views. There is also an underground wine cellar if you have the time and want a one-of-a-kind experience!


TABLE ROCK LAKE


Table Rock Lake is a man-made lake with over 800 miles of shoreline. It’s breathtakingly beautiful and there is fun for everyone!


  1. Table Rock Lake State Park: Located close to Branson, this park offers paved trails and accessible campsites. Campground 1 offers full hook up, 30 and 50 amp, in sites 104, 118, 120 and 157. Campground 2 offers full hook up, 50 amp sites in sites 220 and 259. These sites are paved, extra wide and level. All the accessible sites are “walk-up” only, so call the park ahead and see if you can book in advance (sometimes parks may allow this) or the day of your arrival. There are also wheelchair accessible yurts and cabins. Find out more here: http://www.mostateparks.com/park/table-rock-state-park

  2. Accessible Lake Cruise: The Showboat Branson Belle is wheelchair accessible and has elevators to all of the interior decks, as well as accessible bathrooms! Have fun on this cruise with a 3-course meal and an entertaining show! For more information check out this link: https://www.silverdollarcity.com/showboat-branson/

3. Table Rock Lake Shore Trail: This trail offers an easy, paved pathway following the lake's shoreline. The trail winds through Table Rock State Park under a lush tree canopy for just over 2 miles. Begin at the Dewey Short Visitor Center and follow the trail down to the State Park Marina. Make sure to look for wildlife, including bald eagles in the tall oaks, fox, and deer. Find more info: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/missouri/table-rock-lakeshore-trail?search=true


BRANSON


There are so many things to do in Southwest Missouri and we can’t forget to mention Branson!! Branson has something to offer everyone! Branson reminds me a bit of Gatlinburg, TN because it is a very touristy town, but has more of a fun family atmosphere. A few things we loved in Branson are:


  1. Dolly Parton’s Stampede: There are just things you have to experience and this is one of them! This dinner theater was extremely entertaining, offered a great dining experience and 100% accessible with a great view of this fun-filled show. For more information: https://dpstampede.com/branson

  2. Silver Dollar City: an amusement park that has a lot to offer and is especially enjoyable during the holidays! An accessible guidebook can be found here: https://hfe.widen.net/view/pdf/utmfbvjmyq/22-SDC-Rides-Guide.pdf?t.download=true&u=4tmad2

  3. Accessible Attractions: There are many accessible attractions in Branson including: Branson’s Wild World, Butterfly Palace, Hollywood Wax Museum, Titanic Museum and more!

There is something for everyone in Southwestern Missouri and this post only reaches a fraction of the possibilities! It truly is a beautiful place to visit and even the getting there will make you smile! We hope you enjoyed this post and will get out and explore these areas!


If you have traveled in this area, or other parts of Missouri, we'd love to hear some of your favorite places and why - use the comment section!! Safe travels!



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