Whether it’s Stargazing in the mountains, ziplining over oak forests, or exploring ancient caverns, the Ozarks presents a plethora of experiences to introduce more excitement into your life.
Every New Year brings a sense of newness into our lives, introducing us to unique elements of life that we have never experienced before. Start 2017 with a fresh start, create precious memories and accomplish personalized goals that encourage compassion, happiness, and peace.
Discover Ancient Caverns
Several million of years ago, shallow seas that covered much of the Ozarks deposited layers of sediments, forming the limestone and dolomite bedrock that dominates the region today. Over time, the dissolving action of water eroded away the sedimentary rock, creating hundreds of cave systems throughout the Ozarks.
CAVERNS & NATURAL WONDERS
Onondaga Cave is one of America’s most spectacular caves because of the great abundance and quality of its speleothems or deposits. Stalactites, stalagmites, rimstone dams, flowstones, draperies, soda straws and cave coral extensively decorate the cave. Because of this, Onondaga Cave was designated as a National Natural Landmark.
The Vilander Bluff Natural Area located 7 miles northeast of the main body of the park harbors unique natural communities, most notably a dry dolomite cliff with over 200 ancient red cedar trees that range in age from 200 to 500 years.
Somewhere in the depths of the cave, lies a hidden treasure that, to this day, no one has been able to find.
Legend has it that treasure was buried in the cave by Spanish Conquistadors before they were killed by Native Americans over 350 years ago.
Neither these maps nor the treasure—estimated today at 40 million dollars—have ever been found.
The cave has never been fully explored, and new territories are charted every year.
Rated as one of the most scenic caves in America.
Centuries ago, the Osage Native Americans discovered the pristine beauty that lies beneath Thunder Mountain. Local folklore tells of a legendary Native American wedding ceremony held in the cave in the early 1800’s. Today this magnificent natural wonderland is called Bridal Cave. In keeping with the tradition of the Native American legend, the cave can be reserved for a romantic wedding chapel.
Explore Castle Ruins
Imposing architecture and breathtaking scenery combine to make Ha Ha Tonka State Park one of Missouri’s most treasured spots.
Located on the Lake of the Ozarks, the park features the stone ruins of a castle.
REMINISCENCES OF A DREAM
The ruins of a man’s manor appear to belong to a bygone fairytale kingdom, but are really the remains of grief and despair.
Wealthy Kansas City businessman Robert Snyder had a dream to construct a European-styled castle right in his beloved Missouri. To this end Snyder purchased 5,000 acres of land, including his very own lake, and began work on the evocative mansion in 1905. The businessman even imported stone masons from Europe to achieve the correct style, but unfortunately Snyder would not live to see his dream house to completion.
In 1906, Snyder was killed in one of Missouri’s first car accidents; however, Snyder’s dream castle would not die with him. After his death, Snyder’s sons continued work on the building and were able to complete the castle. After completing construction, one of his sons took up residence in the huge castle until the family’s money ran out due to land rights lawsuits surrounding the castle’s property.
In 1942, the entire building was utterly destroyed by a fire.
The state purchased the property in the 1970’s and has worked to preserve the crumbled walls of Snyder’s dream home as a feature in their state park.
Wander Through Fields of Wildflowers
Immerse yourself in a dreamy landscape blanketed in wildflowers in the Ozarks. As the sun shines between bare winter tree branches, wildflowers resurrect from their slumber. Trek a variety of trails and discover activities including guided wildflower walks, children’s programs, lake and river cruises.
TRAILS & STATE PARKS TO SEE WILDFLOWERS
Whispering Pines Trail at Hawn State Park
12096 Park Dr, Ste. Genevieve, MO 63670
Whispering Pines Loop Trail is a 9.2 mile loop trail consisting of two loops: the north loop is approximately six miles long and the south loop is approximately 3.75 miles. It meanders through a beautiful mixed hardwood and pine forest, crossing through streams and over scenic ridges.
This trail is arguably the best, most scenic trail in the state. It has a little bit of everything, unusual rock formations, beautiful creeks, old forests, panoramic views, and wildlife.
“There’s no other park where you’ll see a large population of wild azaleas like you can at Hawn, last year, they bloomed around the second and third week of April. The azaleas are found in the uplands along the Whispering Pines Trail.” – Allison Vaughn
Swimming Deer and Missouri trails at St. Francois State Park
Just as outlaws sought refuge from the law during the Civil War, visitors today can seek refuge from everyday life in the beauty of the Pike Run Hills at St. Francois State Park. The forested ridges and hollows of these hills offer visitors a chance for unconfined solitude in a wilderness setting.
Mid-April brings an explosion of phlox and bluebells to the park. “These trails have one of the best bluebells shows in the state, they literally carpet the woodland floor. People come from all over the state to see them.” – Jamie Hubert
Coakley Hollow Trail at Lake of the Ozarks State Park
12096 Park Dr, Ste. Genevieve, MO 63670
Coakley Hollow Trail is a 1 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Linn Creek, MO that features beautiful wild flowers. The trail is good for all skill levels and primarily used for hiking.
This self-guiding interpretive trail meanders through one of the most ecologically diverse areas in Lake of the Ozarks State Park. Six different types of natural communities, including dolomite glades, fens, spring-fed streams and several types of woodlands, can be seen.
Soar above the emerald blue water of the Lake of the Ozarks!
Enjoy breathtaking bird’s eye views of the Bagnell Dam and Osage River, with Paradise Parasail, Inc. Experienced USCG captains will give you the safest and most adventurous flight on vessels that speed along miles of shoreline.
MEMORIES FOR A LIFETIME
During the adventure, professional photographers will accompany you on board, capturing every moment which will include 40 to 60 adventure pictures and a Go Pro video from your point of view!
Bagnell Dam Blvd.
Lake Ozark MO 65049
9:00 am – 5 pm
7 days a week
Attend a Festival
Enjoy summer events, street fairs, music festivals, and fireworks by attending a local festival this year!
Artsfest is the largest fine arts festival in southwest Missouri featuring 130 artists from 16 states, over 80 performances, food from some of Springfield’s favorite restaurants, and a kids hands-on area with activities including Chalk-It-Up and the Claymobile, a mobile ceramic arts workshop.
Recurring daily – May 6, 2017 through May 7, 2017
Historic Walnute Street
Amission: $5 (Free for children 5 and under)
Join in on the fun with all the great food and fun, carnivals rides, games, concerts and more. For 81 years, the Ozark Empire Fair has been a time for community celebration and 2017 promises to carry on the tradition.
Recurring daily – July 27, 2017 through August 5, 2017
Ozark Empire Fairgrounds
3001 N. Grant Ave. – Springfield, MO 65803
Admission: $8 for adults $4 children
Celebrate Springfield’s Sister City – Isesaki, Japan – with artists, performers, martial art demonstrations, special guests, vendors and more!
Recurring daily – September 8, 2017 through September 10, 2017
Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden, Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park
2400 S. Scenic Ave. – Springfield, MO 65807
Since time immemorial, the glittering river of stars called the Milky Way has dominated the night sky, influencing humanity and inspiring the imaginations of thousands.
Now, it has become a faded memory to one-third of humanity and 80% of Americans, according to a new global atlas of light pollution produced by Italian and American scientists.
Many people around the world go their entire lifetime without witnessing a clear night sky. Light pollution–caused by artificial light sources–is one of the most pervasive forms of environmental alteration. It creates a luminous haze that swamps the constellations and stars.
In the Ozarks, the sky has minimal light pollution, creating exceptional conditions for viewing the Milky Way.
2017 METEOR SHOWERS
Perseids Meteor Shower
July 17 and August 24 (Peaking on August 9-13)
While the skies are lit up several times a year by other meteor showers, the Perseids are widely sought after by astronomers and stargazers. This is because, at its peak, one can see 60 to 100 meteors in an hour from a dark place.
Draconid Meteor Shower
The 2017 Draconid meteor shower is expected to reach its peak on October 8.
Draconids are also known as Giacobinids.
The best time to see the shooting stars from this meteor shower is right before nightfall.
Geminid Meteor Shower
The Geminids are known to be quite prolific, with rates as high as 60 to 120 shooting stars an hour at peak times. This year’s event will be special because sky-watchers will only have to contend with the waning crescent moon until about local midnight. Once the moon sets, the best viewing will be in the predawn hours of December 14—exactly when the shower is predicted to reach its peak performance.
Witness a Solar Eclipse
On Aug. 21, 2017, people from all over the world will travel to the United States to see the rare and spectacular celestial show — the first total solar eclipse visible from the continental United States in nearly four decades.
For those of us who already live here, but have never seen an eclipse, this is the opportunity of a lifetime – to see the one of the most beautiful occurrences on the planet, and maybe not even have to get on an airplane to experience it!
“Though the rest of the continental U.S. will have at least a 55 percent partial eclipse, it won’t ever get dark there, and eye-protection filters would have to be used at all times even to know that the eclipse is happening. The dramatic effects occur only for those in the path of totality.” – Jay Pasachoff
HOW TO WATCH THE ECLIPSE
If you do plan to observe the August 2017 eclipse, remember: never look directly at the sun without proper eye protection, serious and permanent eye damage can result.
“Proper eye protection” includes specially made solar filters, eclipse glasses, or No. 14 welder’s glass.
The Total Solar Eclipse will only be visible in the North Eastern region of the Ozarks, only a partial solar eclipse will be seen throughout the rest of Missouri.
Maps courtesy of geology.com / Xavier Jubier / Google Maps / Eclipse2017.org