A Walk On The Wild Side: Dogwood Canyon adds one more majestic sight

A Walk On The Wild Side: Dogwood Canyon adds one more majestic sight

In the middle of a 10,000-acre paradise — one that gives people a chance to discover the natural beauty of the Ozark Mountains and to interact with nature close up through fishing, wildlife tours and outdoor recreation — the most majestic sight might not be the biggest, the tallest, the deepest or the oldest. But it is a living monument to history, nature and the importance of preserving both — and that’s one of Johnny Morris’ favorite things.

A white bison named Takoda — a Sioux word meaning “friend to everyone” — joined the herd of American bison at Dogwood Canyon Nature Park during the winter of 2020-21. Visitors to Dogwood Canyon can see Takoda and the rest of the bison herd during the Wildlife Tram Tour, a two-hour guided ride through the canyon and into the ridgetops of Arkansas where herds of bison, elk and deer reside. According to the website, park officials hope the striking addition will provide new opportunities to educate the public on the unique history of the American bison and the delicate balance of conservation that saved the species from near-extinction.

It’s just another example of how the hand of Bass Pro Shops founder Morris is everywhere in southwestern Missouri, from the original Bass Pro Shops location to the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium next door in Springfield to Dogwood Canyon Nature Park in Lampe. All of them actually owe their existence to Johnny’s father, John, who inspired his passion for the outdoors and conservation. Morris grew up fishing on the White River with his family and started Bass Pro Shops in 1971, selling tackle from a shelf in his father’s Brown Derby liquor store in Springfield.

“Right here in the heart of the Ozarks, we are surrounded by such rich history. Not only do Johnny Morris and our conservation attractions help conserve that history, but they inspire people to connect to the great outdoors,” says Samantha Gerhart, a spokeswoman for The Johnny Morris Foundation.

“Because of Johnny Morris’ commitment to conservation over the past years, we have seen the quantity and quality of our wildlife population increase,” Gerhart goes on. “The park also has such a rich and interesting history. Indian Burial Cave and many of our park’s caves have been investigated by archaeologists, and through radio-carbon dating, it has been determined the numerous remains that have been found were individuals dating back and ranging between 400-960 A.D., with one dating back to even 6000 B.C. This is believed to be the oldest human skeleton ever dated in the state of Missouri. The cabins on our property were occupied by settlers dating back to the 1830s, and Hobbs Creek was mined for lead and zinc during World War I.”

But, she adds, besides its historical significance, Dogwood Canyon offers “endless outdoor activities for all ages.”

“With every season, the park takes on a whole new personality and always has something exciting to share,” Gerhart says. “In the spring, the dogwood and redbud trees bloom. In the summer months, on our Wildlife Tram Tours, you can welcome baby bison and elk that are born in June. In the fall, reds, oranges and yellows paint the canyon, welcoming leaf peepers to take in the vibrant autumn fall foliage. In the winter months, dozens of bald eagles settle into our winter wonderland from nearby Table Rock Lake, offering the closest wild bald eagle viewing experience anywhere in the Ozarks.

“We also offer hands-on learning experiences through Exploration Camps, our Nature Center, a working gristmill and our two-story treehouse built by Animal Planet’s Treehouse Masters,” she says. “There’s also horseback riding and trout fishing. Bringing education and adventure together, there is truly something for everyone here at Dogwood Canyon.”



Dogwood Canyon Nature Park

WHEN — 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily

WHERE — 2038 W. Missouri 86, Lampe, Mo.

COST — Single-day child admission starts at $11.75, adult admission starts at $16.75; annual memberships start at $50 for child, $70 for adult

INFO — 877-459-5687 or dogwoodcanyon.org

Categories: Family Friendly