Welcome to The Lake of the Ozarks!
Welcome to the Lake of the Ozarks, a long and winding natural wonder that has provided the Midwest with hundreds of miles of striking shoreline, incredible hiking, and so much more. Whether you’re after a thrill seeking adventure, a relaxing time on the lake, or a trip full of natural wonders, you’ll find that here. Get ready to explore an area often overlooked but once visited, never forgotten!
Here is a playlist to help you get into the spirit of your destination!
One last thing...
Here's Whym's top ten things to know about The Lake of the Ozarks
The Ozarks is a massive area where nature collides. Made up of mountains with peaks over 2,000 feet, sprawling plateaus, a million acres of forests, caves, pristine lakes, springs, waterfalls, and rivers, there is something for everyone here. In fact, there is over 1,150 miles of shoreline! This lake is more than meets the eye - in fact it extends across four states: Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. More than 5 million visitors come here each year, mostly during the warm summer months and for the spectacular fall foliage. Having transformed from a locals only getaway into a destination for all types in the last 3 decades, you will find something to entertain everyone here!
Finding Your Way
Located midway between Kansas City and St. Louis (both approximately 2-3 hours away), it's a perfectly situated Midwest destination to reach by car, RV, or flight. This is not an area that you can get around without a vehicle, so be prepared to drive! If you are staying at one of the many resorts, there is a plethora activities at your fingertips.
To get to the Ozarks, you will find yourself flying into either St. Louis or Kansas City, both of which are major airports, making it an easy access point. From there, you’ll rent a car and hit the road to begin exploring! Whether you fly into KC or STL, you’ll have about a 2.5-3 hour drive to hit your nature escape, but it will all be worth it!
The rich history of this area starts in the Paleozoic era when South America collided with North America, creating the folded mountains and the uplifted plateau that defines the landscape people flock to today. People have lived in this area for over 10,000 years. It became a major trading post between Native Americans and British & Spanish traitors. The Lake of the Ozarks as we know it today has only been in existence since 1931, when the Bagnell Dam was built to create the largest man-made lake in the U.S. Overtime it would adapt from a trading post to a beloved vacation spot where people go to hike, swim, fish and just enjoy the beautiful nature.
Why Am I Here?
There are plenty of adventures waiting for you at the lake, whether it’s in the form of exploring a cave, hiking scenic vistas, golfing, hunting, boating, fishing, foraging, bicycling, swimming, historic sightseeing tours and, of course, camping. Phew. Shops, restaurants, breweries and wineries have popped up in little towns throughout the region but the focus is definitely on the incredible nature just calling you to explore.
The area enjoys hot, muggy summers & cold snowy winters. Over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from 27° to 89°, rarely dropping below 10° or above 97°. The best time to visit is late May through late September when temperatures range from 65° to 80°. Be prepared for the humidity - but a dunk in the lake is the perfect solution! Water temperatures in the summer are around 75 to 80°.
Foraging is very big in the Ozarks, with tart elderberries, sweet persimmons, black walnuts, & meaty morels all being highly sought after. Barbecue is very popular and widely available (you are in Missouri after all!) as is tons of local fish like trout and bass. This area is known for Appalachain cuisine - a type of food defined by the meeting of southern & midwestern cuisine. Specialties include hot-water cornbread, chicken & dumplings, friend catfish & interestingly enough, biscuits with chocolate gravy! For dessert try vinegar pie!
The Ozarks are all about local. Bring home a cookbook, a great barbecue sauce, or locally-made sweet confections. Don’t forget handcrafted home goods or unique antiques!
This is a lake town through and through. Comfortable clothing, hikers and an extra layer for evening works best for outdoor activities. Bathings suits, hats and sunscreen will get you ready for a day on the the water!
Mining, trucking, farming, and cattle ranching have kept people working in this region for a century. More recently, tourism and everything that comes with it - including vineyards and microbreweries - have become important economic drivers in the area. Each area of the Ozarks is unique, so one visit may not be enough! And we know, you hear Ozarks, you think of the tv show, but did you know that was actually filmed in Georgia?