Preserving Paradise at Big Cedar Lodge near Branson, MO

Big Cedar LodgeEverywhere you look, there are skins and stuffed animals.  Deer peering down from the walls. Black bear scoping out the lobby. Wolf perched on the television armoire.  There’s no escaping it:  Big Cedar Lodge near Branson, Missouri is a sportsman’s paradise.

But this resort isn’t about collecting trophies or destroying wildlife.  Instead its mission is to preserve nature and animals in as many ways as possible.  Covering 800 acres and bordering on refreshing dam-fed Table Rock Lake, the resort has taken on a huge task.  Not only is conservation of resources a primary goal, but the preservation of historic buildings and traditions rates high on the resort’s scale, too.

Table Rock Lake

Table Rock Lake at Big Cedar Lodge

Located 10 miles south of Branson, Big Cedar Lodge is carrying out its mission is many large and small ways.  Trash cans designed as logs (recycling is encouraged throughout the resort), refrigerator handles resembling twigs, and bass figures carved on signs are decorative, but they’re really intended to raise awareness of natural elements that might otherwise be taken for granted.  Fly fishing lessons, campfire wagon tours, rustic picnic campsites, horseback rides on scenic trails, and wildlife tram tours all help guests appreciate the natural beauty found in this Ozark Mountain setting.

Houses of the first settlers in the area—in their original locations–have been renovated and are still in use at Big Cedar.  In fact, 40 percent of the buildings at the lodge are original structures, and legends of the Osage Indians are preserved in place names.

As a Corp of Engineers project, Table Rock Lake receives special protection.  Trees cannot be chopped down or other modifications to the land made within 300 feet of shore. Throughout the acreage natural springs flow into refreshing cascades, further enhancing the beauty of this location.

Dogwod Canyon

Biking in Dogwood Canyon

The crowning glory of the conservation concept is Dogwood Canyon, 2200 acres of wilderness studded with towering bluffs and sparkling waterfalls, and a preserve with herds of American bison, elk, white-tail deer, and Texas longhorns. Guests reach Dogwood Canyon, established as a non-profit foundation, by complimentary 20-minute shuttle bus ride from the main lodge.  Once there, you can bike along the four-mile paved path, walk on a self-guided tour, fish for trout in fresh water streams, ride horses over the scenic landscape, or glimpse the back country via logging roads on a guided jeep tour.

Dogwood Canyon

Waterfall cooled off our ride in Dogwood Canyon

Despite proximity to the glitz and glamour of Branson’s theatrical entertainment scene, 80 percent of Big Cedar’s guests never leave the property—a testament to the Lodge’s natural attractions and appreciation of its commitment to preservation of the outdoors.  It’s a perfect place for families to share nature with children or grandchildren as well as a beautiful, relaxing retreat with luxurious amenities for couples.

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier

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