Branson's Natural Attraction
Located in the center of the Ozarks in the scenic hills of the White River valley, Table Rock State Park is located in one of the most popular recreational areas in Missouri. Just a few miles southwest of the world-renowned tourism destination of Branson, the park borders the shoreline of beautiful Table Rock Lake and offers an ideal location for campers wishing to take advantage of all the attractions and entertainment in the area.
This area is host to millions of visitors each year. But today's visitors are not the first to be drawn to the rugged hillsides created by the White River and its tributaries. Indians were the first to inhabit the area approximately 10,000 years ago. Artifacts show that Bluff Dwellers lived in the Ozarks about 3,000 years ago. One of the earliest written descriptions of this southwest Missouri area was that of Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, who explored the area in the winter of 1818-1819. Schoolcraft encountered a number of trappers and hunters on his trip, including James Yochem, one of the first white men to make his home in what is now Stone County.
Settlers from North Carolina and Tennessee began arriving in the area in the early 1800s. While some traveled on to the richer farmland in the river valleys, many pioneers made their home in the rugged Ozarks because it reminded them of their southern Appalachian Mountain homes.
When the Civil War began, it divided not only the nation, but also the Ozarks. Many of the area's self-sufficient farmers were anti-slavery, but many also were Confederate supporters. This conflict continued to be a source of division in the Ozarks even up through the turn of the century, when vigilante groups such as the "Baldknobbers" roamed the countryside. "The Shepherd of the Hills," a book written by minister/author Harold Bell Wright, portrays this conflict and the Ozark way of life during this time period.
Ozarkians were not the only people to realize the beauty of the land as vacationers began to visit the area in the early 1900s. They came to enjoy the rugged beauty of the land, which is covered with white oak, post oak, chinquapin oak, eastern red cedar and flowering dogwood.
Man brought a new aspect to the Ozarks in the late 1950s with the construction of Table Rock Dam. The dam, built on the White River to control floods and generate hydroelectric power, created the 43,100-acre Table Rock Lake with a shoreline of nearly 800 miles. Table Rock Lake received its name from a rock shelf that stands high above the White River about one mile downstream from the dam site. The lake, along with nearby Lake Taneycomo, has created an area with outstanding recreational opportunities.
Table Rock State Park borders the northeast shoreline of Table Rock Lake providing water enthusiasts with a variety of entertainment options. For a taste of adventure, visitors can rent a ski boat or personal watercraft such as a WaveRunner, try a para-sailing ride or take an excursion on a 48-foot sailing catamaran. Pontoon boats and fishing boats are also available to rent. A paved ramp is provided for launching boats, and overnight boat slips are available. The lake is nationally known for its bass fishing, along with opportunities to catch crappie, sunfish and catfish. The clarity of the water makes Table Rock Lake a popular place for scuba diving. Diving equipment can be rented or purchased at the marina and a scuba course is offered for beginners. Although there is no designated beach, swimming is available at several areas of the park. The marina store features sportswear, sports gear, food/beverage, bait and tackle, fuel and convenience goods.
Two shaded campgrounds provide accommodations for visitors wishing to spend a few days taking advantage of all the area has to offer. The campsites include basic, electric and sewer/water/electric sites. The camping areas wind along the shoreline of the lake, allowing easy access to the water. Facilities in the campgrounds include modern restrooms, hot showers and a coin-operated laundry.
Other facilities at Table Rock State Park include picnic sites, a sand volleyball court and playground equipment. An open picnic shelter, perfect for family reunions and get-togethers, can be reserved by contacting the park office. Some facilities are offered on a seasonal basis only. Call the park office for more information.
Nearby are many other attractions, including craft shops, theme parks, music shows, shopping, restaurants, top-notch golf courses and trout fishing.