Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Experience the Splendor of Autumn at Lake Of The Ozarks

Every year, from mid-September through early November, the hardwood forests that line the winding roads, rolling hillsides and shorelines around the Lake of the Ozarks transform from verdant greens into a vibrant palette of varying shades of red, orange and yellow. 

There are many excellent ways to experience the splendor of the season at the "Best Recreational
Lake in the Nation," from self-guided scenic driving tours to languid cruises on the Lake of the Ozarks, hiking in the area's state parks to playing a round at one of 13 championship golf courses, fighting fish in a colorful cove or taking in the scenery from a favorite lakeside restaurant. However visitors decide to spend their time at the Lake, they will want to bring their cameras because they'll be in for a treat during one of the most visually stunning times of the year in the Ozarks.

"We have many visitors return every autumn for the changing of the seasons," says Tim Jacobsen, executive director of the Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitor Bureau. "A lot of them come from around Missouri, but we get quite a few from all over the Midwest and even the west coast because they don't get to experience fall like we do here in Central Missouri. They plan their entire vacations around it."

Those that live at the Lake of the Ozarks enjoy the beauty of the seasons on a daily basis, but for visitors, just driving from their lodging to wherever their trip to the Lake may take them, it can be a very special experience.  And, stopping briefly off the beaten paths and main roads throughout the Lake can reveal many colorful surprises for those hoping to bask in the autumnal glory of the Ozarks.

There are multiple designated scenic overlooks in the Lake area, each offering visitors a unique vantage point of the Lake and its impressive features.  The Ameren Scenic Overlook, located just off the Bagnell Dam on Upper Power Plant Road in Lake Ozark, offers a unique perspective of the Bagnell Dam and the Lake of the Ozarks. Visitors get a distinct view of the Lake as well as the significant elevation change from the Lake of the Ozarks to the Osage River, the Lake's main tributary.  Just down the road from the Ameren Overlook, visitors to Willmore Lodge, 1 Willmore Lane, can enjoy in the panoramic view of the Lake from the back deck of this Adirondak-style building that was constructed in 1930 as an administration building and recreation hall for Union Electric executives. Willmore Lodge now houses a history museum dedicated to the creation of the Bagnell Dam and the Lake of the Ozarks. 

In Camdenton, there are three noteworthy scenic overlooks each offering an exceptional vantage point of the Lake and its fantastic fall foliage. On the way to Bridal Cave, there's the Thunder Mountain Park overlook located on Bridal Cave Road. From this overlook, visitors are afforded a view of the lush hillside leading down to Bridal Cave as well as the shimmering waters of the Lake. Nearby, located in the surrounding Camdenton Conservation Service Center off Thunder Mountain Road, there is a 100-foot tall fire tower with an observation deck situated 80 feet above ground that's open to the public for expansive views of the rolling topography.

About four miles south of Camdenton, visitors to Ha Ha Tonka State Park get a wonderful treat of colors at several overlooks located off paved trails that circle around the park's iconic "castle ruins." Ha Ha Tonka, which was voted the fourth best state park in the nation by readers of USA Today, is a popular attraction at the Lake during the fall. This park offers 14 walking trails covering more than 15 miles throughout the park, making it easy for visitors to experience the different geological formations - tunnels, caverns, springs and sinkholes - as well as the park's pristine woodland areas and glades.  There's also a wooden boardwalk that winds around the natural spring, as well as 316 steps leading up to the stone skeleton of the once-majestic rural estate of Robert McClure Snyder.

Lake of the Ozarks State Park, Missouri's most visited park and also its largest at 17,626 acres, boasts 12 hiking trails ranging from 0.8 of a mile to 13.5 miles winding through the park, including trails that accommodate mountain bikers and equestrians. These trails are great for leisurely strolls and/or more vigorous hikes through a variety of terrain and ecological systems, including hardwood forests, glades, fens and prairies. They also take hikers along the shores of the Lake and atop bluffs with picturesque views of the water below. This park is very popular with anglers and boaters as it also offers boat rentals, public ramps, docks and a designated self-guided aquatic trail. 

For a birds-eye view, visitors can book an aerial tour with either Lake Ozark Helicopters, located off Bagnell Dam Boulevard in Lake Ozark, or Air Lake Aviation, located at the Camdenton Memorial Lake Regional Airport in Camdenton.  Both offer narrated photography tours throughout the year, weather permitting.  Lake Ozark Helicopters offers six different tour options and Air Lake Aviation offers a 30-minute scenic plane ride which covers most of the Lake area, including the historic Bagnell Dam, Ha Ha Tonka State Park and everything in between.  For more information, or to book a tour with Lake Ozark Helicopters, visit www.LakeOzarkHelicopters.com or call 573-302-0022.  Complete details on Air Lake Aviation's scenic flights can be found at www.AirLakeAviation.com or by calling 573-348-1088.

Those interested in taking in the sights by water can charter a narrated scenic cruise on one of three luxury motor yachts: the Tropic Island, the Celebration and the Celebration II. The Tropic Island, which accommodates 150 passengers, moors at Tan-Tar-A Resort in Osage Beach and offers 90-minute cruises Tuesdays through Sundays. The original Celebration docks near the Grand Glaize Bridge in Osage Beach, while the new Celebration II docks near the Bagnell Dam in Lake Ozark. The original Celebration offers luncheon and dinner cruises Tuesdays through Sundays while the Celebration II offers 90-minute afternoon and sunset cruises every day of the week except Tuesday. Each ship captain's narration places an emphasis on the history of the Lake of the Ozarks as well as the stunning homes and lakeside restaurants that overlook the water. To learn more about the different cruise options available at the Lake, visit www.TropicIslandCruises.com for the Tropic Island or www.CruiseLakeoftheOzarks.com for the Celebration yachts.

Two favorite Lake of the Ozarks pastimes heat up as the temperatures begin to cool down in the fall. Anglers and golfers alike both favor the fall weather when pursuing their favored hobby. Both fishing and golf are four-season sports at the Lake, but, there is a certain charm in being outdoors in the Ozarks in autumn. Anglers find the quieter waters favorable for fishing in secluded coves along the 1,150 miles of shoreline, as their time on the water proves to be both beautiful and productive.  Largemouth bass and catfish are plentiful, while white bass become a highly sought after target in the shallower waters this time of year. Crappie become active again around brush piles planted in the Lake in September and continue to bite well into the winter.

For golfers, fall is great at any of the Lake's 13 courses. "Autumn is probably the best time to play golf at the Lake because the summer rush is over and the courses are all in great shape," says Paul Leahy, president of the Lake of the Ozarks Golf Council and director of golf at Tan-Tar-A Resort. "In mid-fall, especially, you have very comfortable temperatures and more affordable tee times and the foliage is typically quite stunning. It's certainly one of my favorite times to be out on the course."

Visitors also can take advantage of reduced lodging rates throughout the Lake of the Ozarks area as the peak summer travel season winds down.  "The Lake is a popular destination any time of year, but with fall being a shoulder season, it's one of the most beautiful and also most affordable times to visit," says Tim Jacobsen. "Many of the Lake's attractions are open for business year-around, so the only thing you'll be missing are the big crowds." Lodging options at the Lake range from full-service luxury resorts to smaller family-owned resorts, comfortable cabins to familiar hotels and motels, quaint bed and breakfasts to condominiums and vacation homes. For more information on the different accommodations found at the Lake of the Ozarks, click on the "Places to Stay" tab at www.FunLake.com.

To learn more about all the fun events, attractions, as well as lodging and dining options available all year at the "Best Recreational Lake" in the Nation, call the Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitor Bureau (CVB) at 1-800-FUN-LAKE, or visit the CVB's award-winning website, www.FunLake.com.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016


Although the first day of summer is officially June 20, Memorial Day Weekend has traditionally marked the start of the summer season at Central Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks.  As the days grow longer and the weather continues to warm, the action at the "Best Recreational Lake" in the Nation really begins to heat up. Read on for more information on the area's Memorial Day Weekend celebrations.


Many resorts host professional fireworks displays to start their busy season with a bang. Resort guests and visitors to the area are welcome to enjoy the festivities by either land or by water.

Old Kinderhook Golf Resort in Camdenton invites the public to join them for their annual Fireworks Fun Fest from 5-9 pm. Admission to this sparkling spectacle is free and features live musical entertainment from Slick Nickel; bounce houses, clowns, face painting and games for the kids; an "All-American" cookout, which will be available for $13; and fireworks at dusk. For more information, visit www.OldKinderhook.com.

Two Lake-area resorts will put on professional pyrotechnic displays for visitors on Saturday, May 28. The fireworks at the Inn at Grand Glaize, located in Osage Beach, will begin at dusk and will be viewable by land at the Inn or by water at the 1 mile marker of the Grand Glaize Arm of the Lake. Bear Bottom Resort, located in Sunrise Beach, will feature live music by Money for Nothing followed by fireworks at 9:45 pm. And, on Sunday, May 29, the celebration continues at Bear Bottom with a double-concert featuring Money for Nothing and the return of country music star Matt Stillwell. There will be a second fireworks display at 9:45 p.m. on Sunday as well. For more information about the Inn at Grand Glaize and its fireworks, visit www.InnAtGrandGlazie.com; and for more details about the events at Bear Bottom Resort, including musical performance times, check out www.BearBottomResort.com.

Tan-Tar-A Resort celebrates Memorial Day with a weekend full of festivities for their hotel guests. Visitors can look forward to live music, cookouts, miniature golf, fun games and contests (limbo, hula hoop, watermelon eating) for the kids, a scavenger hunt, swim-up movies, cosmic bowling and more. The resort's fireworks take place at dusk on Sunday evening, May 29. For more information, visit www.Tan-Tar-A.com, or call 573-348-3131. Also, those who would like to see Tan-Tar-A's fireworks display on the water, but don't have a boat, can reserve a spot on the Tropic Island luxury cruise yacht. Make reservations by calling the Tropic Island at 573-348-0083 and view their website at www.tropicislandcruises.com. This cruise fills up fast, so travelers should reserve their spots early.

The Lodge of Four Seasons will also be hosting a large-scale fireworks display on Sunday beginning at dusk.  The fireworks can also be viewed by water at the 13-mile marker.  Call 800-843-5253 or visit www.4SeasonsResort.com for more information.

For more information on all Memorial Day Weekend events, as well as Lake Area lodging, dining, attractions, golf and more, visit www.FunLake.com.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Lake of the Ozarks Music Scene In Full Swing This Summer

On any given weekend during the summer, visitors to Central Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks will find a wide array of musical performances taking place around the area. Many of the Lake's resorts and 200 eateries and night spots showcase local musicians as well as some more renowned acts, because what's a trip to the Lake without a little music and sunshine? It doesn't matter what genre a visitor is looking for, whether it be rock and roll, blues, country or bluegrass, the Lake of the Ozarks always strikes the perfect chord.  Below is a highlight of some of the musical acts coming to four of the Lake's larger outdoor stages this summer.


H. Toad's Bar and Grill at Camden on the Lake Resort, Spa and Yacht Club features live music on two separate stages, one indoors and one outdoors, every weekend. In the past, H. Toad's entertainment complex has featured well known acts like Cheap Trick, Molly Hatchet, Nelly, Dr. Zhivagas, the American Hitman Band, as well as many popular local bands. Over Memorial Day Weekend, H. Toad's hosts Contagious, dubbed one of the best party bands in the Midwest, for three consecutive nights on their outdoor stage, May 27-29. This summer, H.Toad's, which was just voted the "Best Entertainment on the Water" by readers of Lake Lifestyles Magazine, will host at least four live performances every weekend. The event schedule is too packed to list all of the bands performing, so for a complete calendar of upcoming shows, please visit www.HToads.com.


This 10,000-seat open-air music venue celebrated its grand reopening in mid-June 2015 with its first annual summer concert series featuring many big name bands, including the Ozark Mountain Daredevils, The Guess Who, Tracy Lawrence, Warrant and others.  This summer, the owners and operators, who also have experience at the famous Red Rocks Amphitheater outside of Denver, Col., have more in store for music lovers as they kick off their second annual concert series Memorial Day Weekend with a show headlined by GRAMMY-nominated, multi-platinum-selling recording artist Aaron Lewis on Sunday, May 29. The show will open with Andrew Stratman and CristiAna, with a special appearance by the Army National Guard.

On Saturday, June 11, one of the most influential bands of the '90s, the Gin Blossoms, and their signature "jangle pop" sound will be on full display. The amphitheater hosts two of country music's biggest names in July and August. The Country Music Award-winning Eli Young Band headlines on Saturday, July 23. Nationally renowned Parmalee bring their North Carolina-based Southern country-rock music to the Ozarks stage on Saturday, Aug. 6.

The 2016 summer series hits a crescendo as the legendary "Motor City Madman" Ted Nugent and special guests Head East wrap up the party on Saturday, Aug. 12.

For tickets and more information on the upcoming performers and/or the venue, please visit www.OzarksAmp.com, or call 573-346-0000.


Picklehead's Road House is one of the Lake of the Ozarks' newest music venues and immediately put its stamp on the local music scene last year as it hosted Head East, Bret Michaels and 38 Special, and more. Picklehead's boasts a four-story entertainment complex complete with a large outdoor stage, multiple dining options and a zip line. 

Picklehead's summer season gets underway with a jam-packed Memorial Day Weekend as they host Members Only on Friday, May 27; a double-bill featuring Madd Hoss Jackson followed by Blackberry Smoke on Saturday, May 28; and, on Sunday, May 29, Drew Baldridge headlines a free, all-ages show beginning at 8 p.m.

In mid-June, the MidCoast BikeFest rolls into town. This weekend will be packed with custom motorcycles, contests and live music, including Shannon Curfman of Kid Rock as well as local heavyweights Shaman's Harvest on June 17. On June 18, attendees can look forward to performances by Adairs Run followed by the Bellamy Brothers. The weekend will also feature several special guests, including emcee "Goat," as well as bartenders from the famous Full Throttle Saloon in Sturgis, South Dakota.

To celebrate America's Independence Day, Picklehead's will host two double-bills on Friday and Saturday.  Lenny Cooper and Colt Ford will entertain audiences on Saturday, July 2, and, on July 3, Brushville and Backroad Anthem close out the weekend with a free, all-ages show.

For aficionados of one of America's most beloved musical genres, the blues, Picklehead's will be the place to be on Saturday, July 23. The 2016 Blues Festival features the Norman Jackson Band, Steve Smith and the Sneakers, E.D. Anderson, Steepwater Band and Davy Knowles. Music begins at 1 p.m.

To view Picklehead's complete event schedule, or to order tickets and get more information on the venue, visit www.PickleheadsRoadHouse.com.


Shawnee Bluff Vineyard is situated on 40 scenic acres of rolling pastures lined with rows of grapevines and is a year-around destination for Lake visitors wanting to sample some of the area's best wines. But, during the summer months, many flock to the Vineyard not just for the fruits of its labor, but for its musical performances. 

Shawnee Bluff's annual outdoor concert series has been both a highlight and staple at the Lake of the Ozarks for years and always brings in some of the biggest names in country and classic rock for select weekends throughout the season. The 2016 summer series features the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, famous for their monster hit, "Fishing in the Dark," on June 3. Country music sweetheart Lorrie Morgan graces the stage on July 15. The multi-award-winning country star Mickey Gilley plays his famous hits on August 19, and the legendary Charlie Daniels Band returns to the Vineyard on August 26. The summer series concludes with two shows in September, featuring the raucous rockabilly sounds of Reverend Horton Heat on September 10 and the sweet harmonies of The Oak Ridge Boys on September 23. 

Aside from these notable acts, Shawnee Bluff Vineyard also features local artists every Sunday throughout the summer and their second location, Shawnee Bluff Winery in Lake Ozark, features live music every weekend throughout the year. For more information on both locations - the Vineyard and the Winery - as well as a full events calendar, visit www.ShawneeBluffWinery.com.

For a complete list of concerts and other family-friendly events taking place at the "Best Recreational Lake" in the Nation, please call the Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitor Bureau (CVB) at 1-800-FUN-Lake. Or, visit the CVB's award-winning website at www.FunLake.com. Visitors can also find a wealth of information about the different lodging facilities, 200 restaurants and bars and other Lake-area attractions on the CVB's website as well.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Fishing Lake of the Ozarks in Spring and Beyond

Although it's widely recognized as one of the best vacation destinations in the Midwest, Central Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks has also earned the reputation of being one of the best fisheries in the nation, too. Thousands of anglers return to the Lake time and time again to take to the waters in search of that next big catch.

The sheer size of this man-made reservoir can be difficult to comprehend: it covers over 54,000 acres with over 64 billion gallons of fish-filled water supplied by five tributaries, all enclosed within 1,150 miles of meandering shoreline. To put that in perspective, that's more shoreline than the entire Pacific coast of the state of California.

That's exactly what makes the Lake of the Ozarks one of the best destinations for anglers of all experience levels. With all that water, shoreline and natural and artificial habitat, as well as careful management, the fish populations flourish, making for a lot of line-tugging, fish-fighting fun throughout the entire year.

The most prevalent species at the Lake include largemouth and spotted bass; white bass; black and white crappie; hybrid white bass/stripers; bluegill; walleye; and channel, flathead and blue catfish, as well as paddlefish. But, arguably the most sought after are crappie and bass. The Lake hosts over 500 professional and amateur fishing tournaments each year, the most popular being the semi-annual spring and fall Big Bass Bash tournaments, which typically pay out a whopping $60,000 cash prize to the amateur that reels in the biggest fish.

Fishing has been a popular family activity at the Lake of the Ozarks for over 80 years. "If you're interested in catching your daily limits of sizable fish, the Lake of the Ozarks provides a wonderful opportunity to accomplish that,” says Jim Divincen, administrator for the Lake of the Ozarks Tri-County Lodging Association. "It's also a great way to spend quality time with your family. Generations of families have grown up fishing here and continue to pass on the tradition to each new generation or addition to their families. In fact, some of my fondest memories are of fishing with my daughters on the Lake."

John Neporadny, a longtime Lake of the Ozarks resident and a member of the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame, shares Divincen's enthusiasm for the Lake and believes it lives up to its billing as one of the best fisheries in the nation. "I've had the opportunity to fish many of the best rivers, natural lakes and reservoirs throughout the country and on many occasions I've discovered there is no place like home."

This former fishing guide and author of The Lake of the Ozarks Fishing Guide book continues, "Missouri has many fine fisheries, but I would have to rate Lake of the Ozarks as the best reservoir in the state for catching a variety of game fish. I believe that day in and day out, Lake of the Ozarks gives anglers an equal opportunity to catch bass, crappie, white bass or catfish."


The autumn season is a favorite among anglers for the cooler temperatures, colorful fall foliage and productive fishing. The warmer weather and extended hours of daylight make spring and summer the most popular seasons with boaters and anglers alike, but that doesn't mean the fish stop biting in the fall and winter.

The cooler temperatures and vibrant fall foliage make fishing at the Lake in autumn both beautiful and productive. And, during the fall and winter seasons, many of the Lake-area resorts offer discounted rates on lodging, providing yet another reason to plan a fishing trip to the Lake of the Ozarks.

Those willing to layer up and brave the colder conditions, may have the largest payoff as some of the Lake's record-breaking fish have been caught during the winter months. And, a handful of Lake-area resorts feature enclosed heated fishing docks for catching crappie, some are even furnished with couches and TVs to ensure a comfortable and pleasurable winter fishing experience.


The Lake area not only boasts a good number of trophy-size fish, but also a good number of national trophy-winning fishermen. Guido Hibdon, winner of the Bassmaster Classic and two-time BASS Angler of the year; Dion Hibdon, winner of the Bassmaster Classic and FLW Forrest Wood Cup; fishing legend Denny Brauer, the first ever angler to be featured on the Wheaties Box; Brian Maloney, FLW All-American National Champion; and Marcus Sykora, FLW All-American National Champion, all call the Lake of the Ozarks home. Clearly, there must be something in the water.

So, what makes the the Lake of the Ozarks so special and so attractive for professional anglers?

"The Lake is an unbelievable place to be for pro anglers because there are many different river systems, many different types of cover for the fish, and you have four distinct seasons, so fishing this lake prepares you for all sorts of scenarios,” says Sykora, who won the 2014 FLW All-American championship on Wilson Lake in Alabama. "You learn to excel at fishing in very shallow water; very deep water; in warm and cold weather; windy, rainy and sunny conditions; so you develop a unique sense for the different patterns and techniques you need to use for each given scenario. That, in my opinion, is why Lake of the Ozarks anglers tend to be so successful in big tournaments. Our home lake has prepared us well. And, that's also why the Lake attracts and produces so many great anglers."


If you come to the Lake to do some fishing, it's never a bad idea to do a little research. There are many resources available to anglers providing information on the best locations, patterns, bait and more. A great online resource is www.BassingBob.com, where you can get current reports on water conditions and tips from local pros. In print, there's the Lake of the Ozarks Fishing News available for free at most bait shops and grocery stores around the Lake area, and several local newspapers also feature up-to-date fishing reports and tips as well.

But, you can always cut to the chase and hire a certified fishing guide. Local guides know the waters better than almost anyone and make for a relaxing and effortless fishing experience.  With one call, you can book these professionals, who will take you to the Lake's fishing "hot spots," and will also provide the boat and all the equipment needed for the excursion. All you have to do is show up and your guide will take care of the rest.

"A big lake like this can be intimidating for some people," says Ed Franko, owner of Big Ed's Guide Service in Lake Ozark. "Professional fishing guides make it easy and they maximize the quality of time a person spends on the water. Most of us are out on the Lake 250-plus days a year, so we know where the fish are and what they're biting. We also have some of the best equipment and a wealth of knowledge to ensure that people have a great experience here at the Lake of the Ozarks. Because, when you get down to it, it's all about the experience and a good guide can be the difference between a great fishing trip or an extremely frustrating one."

For a complete listing of Coast Guard-certified fishing guides in the area, visit www.FunLake.com


Many Lake-area resorts feature fishing docks for their guests' convenience and enjoyment. The Lake of the Ozarks has made a point of providing top-notch services for anglers for decades. So, if you're planning a trip to the Lake, know that many of the resorts at the Lake cater to anglers and their needs and offer fishing docks, submerged crappie beds and cleaning stations on location. And, as mentioned previously, some have heated fishing docks for comfortable winter fishing as well.

Public launching sites are available in the Lake area's two state parks - Lake of the Ozarks State Park and Ha Ha Tonka State Park - as well as at full-service marinas and resorts around the Lake.  A lot of the same marinas and resorts also offer boat rentals.

Fishing licenses are required for most anglers in Missouri.  Licenses can be purchased at many Lake-area resorts, convenience stores and bait shops. For more information, including all rules and regulations, or to purchase your fishing license online, visit the Missouri Department of Conservation at  www.mdc.mo.gov/permits 

Whether fishing with buddies or family, time spent off the water can be as enjoyable as the time spent fishing. The Lake of the Ozarks, which was named the "Best Recreational Lake" in the Nation by readers of USA Today, has activities and events for every age and interest.  To learn more about these, plus dining and accommodations options, call the Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitor Bureau (CVB) at 1-800-FUN-LAKE, or visit the CVB's award-winning website at www.FunLake.com