6 Reasons Why Top of the Rock Should be Part of Your Ozark Vacation

Top of the Rock Sunset

Top of the Rock, near Branson, Missouri, is one of many destinations that Johnny Morris, owner of Bass Pro Shops, has created in the Ozarks. Originally designed as a golf course, Top of the Rock has more to offer for friends and families than just a gorgeous golf course. The property now has two restaurants, a wine cellar and whiskey bar, a natural history museum, and is part of the Ozarks Heritage Preserve, which is why it is an absolute must-see during your visit to the region. While Top of the Rock is part of the Big Cedar Lodge wilderness resort, here are just 6 reasons why you won’t regret visiting this magical place.

1. Golf Course

Driving practice on the Top of the Rock golf course

Get your clubs and start your day at Top of the Rock with an early Tee time on this incredibly beautiful golf course. With a view high above Table Rock Lake, you can enjoy this 3-par course surrounded by ponds filled with bass, waterfalls, unique rock formations, and wild critters. Finish your game with a visit to the Buffalo Bar, wine cellar, or the whiskey-tasting room. Dress code is appropriate golf attire, we love these cute golf shirts. 

2. Lost Canyon Cave 

Golf carts are for more than just getting around the course. This 2.5 tour takes you through the nature trail and Top of the Rock Lost Canyon displaying the waterfalls, natural rock formations, and even some local critters. The cart tour makes a stop at the Bat Bar where the (21+) driver/riders can grab an alcoholic drink of their choice or something fizzy for the kids. A ticket for the tour also includes admission to the Ancient Ozarks Natural History Museum. You can find tickets here.

3. Ancient Ozarks Natural History Museum

Photo credit: Top of the Rock

The Ancient Ozarks Natural History Museum is truly one of a kind. This museum is a perfect place to show kids the prehistoric animals that existed in North America, including many mammals that are not often taught about in school. See giant beavers, moose, rodents, dire wolves, and tigers! The museum has many Native American artifacts donated by local tribes, including regalia, arrowheads, paintings, pottery, and tools. There are also incredibly educational galleries showcasing Civil War history and the American West.

4. Arnie’s Barn

Arnie’s Barn is part of the Johnny Morris Conservation Foundation, and is the 150 year old barn from professional golfer Arnold Palmer’s own backyard. It was disassembled in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, and reassembled by local Amish craftsmen so that families could enjoy the delicious Tex-Mex cuisine offered at the restaurant and golf shop. You can enjoy the beautiful views of Top of the Rock, as well as the multitude of historical memorabilia while munching on chips and queso or Texas BBQ. 

5. Osage Restaurant

Photo credit: Osage Restaurant

Time to slowly settle down after a long day with a nourishing meal at the Osage Restaurant. Dining at this majestic restaurant will really make you feel fancy. The menu features upscale local cuisine, with a historical backdrop of art and artifacts. There is food and beverages for everyone and a dessert menu to die for. A personal favorite are the Gooey Butter cakes, which do change based on the season, but are still very delicious, and very gooey. 

6. Sunset Ceremony

The Wounded Warrior statue amidst a beautiful Table Rock sunset

Top of the rock REALLY knows how to do sunsets. After everyone has eaten their delectable desserts and is polishing off their nightcap, the sunset ceremony is initiated with the sound of Scottish bagpipes. A fully decorated bagpiper plays a few gorgeous melodies in front of the picturesque buffalo statue whilst the sun sets over Table Rock Lake. We are then directed to observe a Civil War reenactor fire off a cannon to mark the end of another beautiful night in the Ozarks.

Top of the Rock is just the beginning!

Top of the Rock is one of the destinations that are a must-see in the Johnny Morris’ Wilderness Resort. While TOTR holds its own, Big Cedar Lodge is a destination that should not be skipped. Read this story for more ideas on your next Ozarks mountains road trip!