Category Archives: Outdoors

Epic fun is never “seasonal” in Branson

The Titanic Museum Attraction boards passengers for a unique "voyage" regardless of the weather.

The Titanic Museum Attraction, celebrating its 10th season in Branson during 2016,  boards passengers for a unique “voyage” regardless of the season.

The word ‘seasonal’ is commonly used as a term of limitation. Based on 29 years of living here, I would suggest that when used in connection with Branson, it might relate to locally produced fruits and vegetables, certain outdoor aquatic activities or attractions, weather, shows, or any one of a myriad of other things; but one thing that is never “seasonal” in Branson is epic fun!

Sure, by the end of Christmas Week, all of Branson’s great live shows will have held their last 2015 performance, and there will be a lull as they prepare for 2016. Most Branson visitors will not be swimming or boating on one of Branson’s pristine lakes – Table Rock, Taneycomo, or Bull Shoals – or enjoying weather-dependent attractions, such as Silver Dollar City, until they reopen in the spring. Does that mean the end of fun in Branson until the spring? Absolutely not!

The vast majority of Branson’s attractions, such as the Titanic Museum Attraction, The Track Family Fun Parks, and many others, remain open for the fun, excitement, and enjoyment of Branson visitors year round. Great Branson shows like Grand Jubilee, Amazing Pets, Comedy Jamboree, and others, start their 2016 performances as early as January 1, with other shows opening gradually throughout the spring season. Branson Tourism Center maintains two of the most up-to-date lists of Branson shows and attractions available anywhere. These lists are updated on a daily basis as more information becomes available.

Love the fun and adventure of outdoor activities? Branson’s relatively mild and fluctuating winter weather permits a variety of year round outdoor activities, like golf, hiking, biking, fishing, boating, and more. Weather permitting, the majority of Branson’s golf courses, such as Branson Hills, Pointe Royale, and Thousand Hills, are open year round. World-class fishing for bass and trout continues throughout the year, and hiking and biking on Branson’s trails during the late fall and winter months is less crowded, permitting more accessible views of wildlife, birds, lakes, and other things not normally visible at other times of the year.

The world-class fun and excitement of the Branson shopping experience knows no season; it never stops! Branson Landing, anchored by Bass Pro Shops and Belk, features dozens upon dozens of local and national retailers and specialty shops; its selection of fine dining, casual eateries, intimate cafes, and its lake shore setting provides an unequaled shopping experience. Its spectacular $7.5 million water fountain attraction, featuring the first-ever merging of water, fire, light, and music, depending on the daily weather conditions, operates year round. Where else, regardless of the season, can you shop, dine, and experience a free choreographed show with water shooting 120-foot geysers, and fire cannons blasting fireballs into the air? Only at Branson Landing!

And that’s just one of many shopping districts in the area. The unique shops and galleries of historic downtown Branson, including “Dick’s 5 & 10;” the dozens of specialty shops offering arts and crafts and one-of-a-kind items; and the outlet centers such as Tanger Outlets and The Shoppes at Branson Meadows, which are open year round, are just a sampling of the shopping available in Branson.

Sure, it’s a different Branson during the winter months, but it’s a Branson that’s full of fun and exciting things to do, while offering it in a more relaxed atmosphere. Please feel free to call the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services, at 1-800-785-1550, for additional information, show and attraction tickets, or for lodging arrangements.

Mother Nature’s amazing Ozark’s Fall Foliage Show premiering soon in Branson

The first blush of the color to come spreads across a scenic Ozark vista.

The first blush of the color to come spreads across a scenic Ozarks vista.

For a limited time, Branson’s shows won’t be the only live entertainment in Branson! From the first tint of color, until the last leaf falls, the fall foliage of the Ozark Mountains provide one of Mother Nature’s most amazing and beautiful shows. If the past is any indication, and everything keeps on going like it’s been going, visitors to Branson can expect a spectacular fall foliage show this year!

Frances Main, a Forester with the Missouri Department of Conservation, said that the moisture this summer, all the good leaves on the trees, and the weather thus far portends a good foliage season that should peak during about the second week in October. She points out that it’s the cool nights followed by bright sunny days that really help bring out the brilliant colors; it starts in mid-September when species such as Walnut and Hickory start changing and really coloring up; the Oaks, Maples, Persimmon, and other trees and bushes start to change shortly thereafter. Click here for more information on “Why Leaves Change Color” from the Missouri Department of Conservation.

“It will be a magnificent, one-of-a-kind sight to behold,” said Annette Wood, the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center.  “One of our most asked questions is, ‘What’s the best way to see the foliage?'” Wood says that one of the neat things about the fall foliage in the Branson area is that there really is no one best way to see it because just about everywhere one turns they will be surrounded by its vibrant, colorful beauty.

That said, however, Wood points out that it’s hard to top the magnificent view of the Ozark’s foliage from the lofty heights of the 230-foot-tall Inspiration Tower. Located on top of Inspiration Point at the Shepherd of the Hills Homestead, one of the highest points in southwest Missouri, it provides a unique and unparalleled panoramic view of the Ozarks’ countryside. Glass elevators transport guests up to the enclosed observation deck from which, on a clear day, they can see over 90 miles covering hundreds of square miles that presents a spectacular view of the fall foliage not available anywhere else.

There are a number of “Scenic Lookouts” that provide a superb panoramic view of the Ozark’s fall foliage. These include the Lookouts on State Route 165, about a mile south of its intersection with State Route 265, the Table Rock Dam Overlook, located on the south end of Table Rock Dam across the road from the Visitors Center, and the Henning Conservation Area Lookout, located about a mile west of the junction of State Route 76 and State Route 376 on the north side of the road.

Another excellent panoramic view of Branson’s beautiful fall colors is provided at “Point Lookout” on the campus of the College of the Ozarks. Located on top of a bluff overlooking Lake Taneycomo, it provides a unique view of Branson’s fall foliage not available anywhere else. With the lake as a backdrop, it’s simply breathtaking. While at the college, you might want to eat at the Keeter Center, visit the Edwards Grist Mill, or enjoy the Ralph Foster Museum.

Branson Tourism Center’s Wood also suggests two other ways to enjoy the fall colors in Branson: from the vintage dome cars of the Branson Scenic Railway, and from the deck of the Showboat Branson Belle on Table Rock Lake. They both provide unique panoramic views of Branson’s fall foliage.

Six great reasons why you should take your family on a one-of-a-kind Lake Taneycomo sightseeing cruise aboard the Lake Queen

Main Street Lake Cruises "Lake Queen" cruising Lake Taneycomo.

Main Street Lake Cruises “Lake Queen” cruising Lake Taneycomo.

“Our goal is to provide our passengers with a unique, exciting, and unforgettable experience that will become a special part of their favorite Branson memories,” said Steve Johnson, the General Manager of Main Street Lake Cruises. “A cruise aboard the 84 foot long riverboat replica Lake Queen is reminiscent of the boats and the White River that played such an important part in Branson’s early history; it’s truly a one of a kind adventure produced by Mother Nature,” he added.

Here are some things you should know about taking your family on an amazing sightseeing cruise aboard the Lake Queen:

1. It’s Safe: The safety of you and your family is foremost. The Lake Queen and its crew are licensed, and the boat is inspected by the U.S. Coast Guard on a regular basis.

2. Full Modern Amenities: The Lake Queen is fully handicap accessible and offers modern amenities including full-sized modern restrooms, a well-stocked bar, snack food service, a fully enclosed environmentally conditioned lower deck and an open-air upper deck.

3. Enjoy Sights Never Seen by the Vast Majority of Branson’s Millions of Visitors Each Year: These sights include a unique mid-lake view of Branson Landing and its $7.5 million fountain, a spectacular synchronized fire, water, light, and music show; one of Missouri’s largest Blue Heron Rookeries; amazing bluffs carved naturally by Mother Nature over the centuries; spectacular Ozark vistas; and much more.

4. See Ozarks’ Birds and Other Wildlife: From your vantage point aboard the Lake Queen you’ll come upon the birds and other wildlife that abound on Lake Taneycomo and its shoreline. You could see deer, mink, river otters, the great blue heron, bald eagles, various species of ducks, Canada geese and other geese, as well as many other species.

5. Fully Narrated: Although there is plenty of time to relax and just enjoy the serenity of being on the lake, the Captain will provide a live, interesting narrative of what you’ll be seeing, both fixed and spontaneous sights … a bald eagle sitting in a tree, or a mink scurrying along the shoreline, or any number of things that just can’t be planned!

6. Relaxing: Whether you enjoy it inside the climate controlled lower deck, or in the fresh air of the open top deck, it’s hard to imagine anything more relaxing than cruising on Lake Taneycomo aboard the Lake Queen while enjoying the peace and serenity of the Ozarks.

For additional information or tickets for a cruise aboard the Lake Queen, please contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services by calling 1-800-785-1550, or by visiting www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

 

Open dam gates bode well for amazing summer fun on Table Rock Lake

Turbine outlets for Table Rock Lakes Generation Units showing only Units 1 and 2 operating.

Turbine outlets for Table Rock Lakes Generation Units showing only Units 1 and 2 operating.

Many were surprised when the Corps of Engineers opened eight of the 10 spillways on Table Rock Dam at about noon on May 12, 2015. Not to worry; the release has more to do with a maintenance problem than any abnormal water level problems. James Sandberg, the Operations Project Manager responsible for all of the Corps operations at Table Rock Lake said that during the storms last weekend they lost a “transformer differential” and were forced to shut down two of the dams four generators, “Units 3 and 4.”

The Current Power Pool (Normal) Level as of May 12 is 916.3 on its way to the lakes “Summer Power Pool Level of 917.0 on June 1. The actual current level of Table Rock Lake, as of 3:00 p.m. on May 12 was 917.74. Sandburg said, “Since the lake is predicted to crest at 918 msl, we are required to release 15K CFS [Cubic Feet Per Second]. We can only pass approximately 7K through Units 1 & 2, so we will be spilling approximately 8K CFS through the spillway…” He went on to say that the total discharge is the same as it would have been if all four Units were generating power and that he expects the operation to continue this way until the lake gets back to below a level of 917.0.

The latest levels for Table Rock Lake indicate that it has crested at 917.74 and has started to drop. If that holds and history is any gauge, absent heavy rains in the near future, the level of Table Rock Lake should reach 917.0 over the weekend of May 15.

“That’s great news,” said Annette Wood, the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services and sellers of Branson show and attraction tickets and lodging. “Table Rock Lake will be at its normal summer capacity as the tourism season starts, offering Branson visitors a virtual aquatic paradise of a full 43,100 surface acres and 745 miles of shoreline for fishing, boating, swimming, water sports and fun to enjoy,” she continued.

 

Did you know this about the US Army Corps of Engineers and Table Rock Lake?

Jim Sanderg, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Table Rock Lake  Operations Project Manager of Table Rock lake

Jim Sanderg, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Table Rock Lake Operations Project Manager of Table Rock lake

When Table Rock Dam was completed in 1959 it formed Table Rock Lake, with its 43,100 surface acres and 745 mile shoreline of aquatic fun, adventure and scenic beauty. Along with Silver Dollar City and Branson’s live shows,it is one of the lynchpins that helps make Branson such a wonderful unique travel destination.

Table Rock Lake is owned, managed and controlled by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, (Corps). The Corps is directly involved in all aspects of the lakes use, both by daily visitors and the many commercial operations on the lake that enhances its recreational value. Recently, the Branson Tourism Center (BTC) had the opportunity to interview Mr. James Sandberg (JS), the Operations Project Manager responsible for all of the Corps operations at Table Rock Lake. His responses and insights are presented below in a “Q and A” format.

BTC: What is your position with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and what does it entail?
JS: Operations Project Manager. I am responsible for all of the operations here at Table Rock Lake including natural resource management, recreation, flood damage reduction, hydro power operations and serve as the liaison between the public and our District office in Little Rock.

BTC: How long have you been at Table Rock Lake?
JS: I started as a Park Ranger in 1989 left for another assignment in 2002 and have had my current position since December of 2006.

BTC: What were the three main reasons Table Rock Dam was built?
JS: First and foremost, flood damage reduction, then hydropower and water supply.

BTC: Water supply?
JS: The allocation for water was for the fish hatchery [Shepherd of the Hills Trout Hatchery] just below the dam. Right now there is no allocation for residential/domestic use.

BTC: Where does recreation and fishing come in under that hierarchy?
JS: Recreation is one of the Corps missions, but it was not one of the authorized purposes of the project. Recreation is an authorized mission, as well as natural resources, but we do not make any changes on the management of the Water Control Plan based on recreation or natural resource management.

BTC: Why do the “normal,” levels of Table Rock Lake fluctuate from 915 feet to 917 feet at different times of the year?
JS: We maintain a “normal conservation level” of 915 above MSL between December 1 and May 31 when it is increased to a “seasonal conservation level” of 917 above MSL until November 30. The increased level is authorized by the Water Control Plan so that we can make the minimum releases during that period required to maintain oxygen levels and water temperature downstream for the trout fishery.

BTC: Does the Corps manage tourism related activities on Table Rock Lake?
JS: Yes, we have 12 recreation areas that we run and 15 commercial marinas that we manage for the benefit and enjoyment of the public. In addition, we have more than 100 “Limited-Motel Resort” leases we manage that support recreational activities and tourism on Table Rock Lake.

BTC: So if there is a resort, marina or other business operation on Table Rock Lake it is operated in co-operation with the Corps?
JS: Correct. Table Rock Lake is a federally owned project and owns the vast majority of the lakes shoreline. As a general rule any commercial business on Table Rock Lake operates through a lease or other agreement with the Corps.

BTC: What are the primary Corps facilities or managed areas that Branson visitors are most likely to come in contact with?
JS: Table Rock State Park and the State Park Marina, the Dewey Short Visitors Center at Table Rock Dam, the recreation areas [which include camp grounds and boat launching ramps] at Indian Point, Cricket Creek Old Highway 86, as well as Mill Creek and Aunts Creek and of course “Moon Shine Beach” located on the north end of Table Rock Dam which is one of our most popular areas.

BTC: What is the impact of Table Rock Lake on tourism in the Branson area?
JS: I think it is a big part of the recreation and tourism in the Branson area. I have been given some number that recreation in Stone and Taney Counties is a two to three billion dollar industry of which Table Rock Lake is directly responsible for about 25% of that. It is estimated that visitors to just the Corps operated recreation areas spend about $60 million per year in the local economy and that’s not counting the other areas on Table Rock Lake such as Big Cedar, Chateau on the Lake, Table Rock State Park and Marina and the other commercial marinas, resorts etc. operating in cooperation with the Corps.

BTC: In closing, what one thought would you like to leave with our readers?
JS: The Corps wants to make sure that we maintain the resources that we have at Table Rock Lake so locals, visitors and their families can enjoy them now and that future generations will also be able to enjoy this precious resource. We want to be proactive in protecting the lake to make sure that it stays the lake that we all enjoy today.

 

 

Hatchery hatches more than trout for Branson visitors

Visitor's Center of Shepherd of the Hills Trout Hatchery with Table Rock Dam in the background.

Visitor’s Center of Shepherd of the Hills Trout Hatchery with Table Rock Dam in the background.

From its 43,000 plus surface acre water playground, Table Rock Lake, to attractions, museums, shopping, theme and water parks and over 100 live shows of every kind Branson, Missouri offers a bewildering number of things to see and do. “Many like Silver Dollar City, Branson’s great live shows and the Titanic Museum Attraction, to name a few, are well known,” said Annette Wood, the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “Among the lesser known things to do is the opportunity for Branson visitors to experience the “Shepherd of the Hills Trout Hatchery” at the foot of Table Rock Dam,” she added.

The “Shepherd of the Hills Trout Hatchery,” is operated by the Missouri Department of Conservation and is part of a 211 acre complex including a “Conservation Center” consisting of trails, a wild life refuge, and a Visitor Center. It is located less than 10 minutes from the famed “Branson Strip,” just off of State Highway 165 at the foot of Table Rock Dam.

The hatchery was built in conjunction with the building of Table Rock Dam because the cold water passing through the dams generators to generate electricity was ideal for Rainbow and Brown trout, but would have a a negative impact on the warm water species prevalent before the dam was built. With the completion of the dam, the first trout were stocked in Lake Taneycomo in 1959.

As a result, Lake Taneycomo, has become one of the finest trout fisheries in America with one of its outfitters, River Run Outfitters, actually winning the coveted “Orvis Outfitter of the Year Award,” in 2006, over outfitters in the other states that are legendary for their trout fishing.

In terms of raw numbers the hatchery produces over 1.1 million Rainbow and Brown Trout annually, of which about 475,000, 10 to 12 inch trout are included in the 700,000 plus trout stocked in the lake annually. The other 225,000 trout that go into Lake Taneycomo each year come from federal hatcheries, primarily Neosho, which are required by federal law to replace the “warm water” species that the building of Table Rock Dam displaced.

Hatchery visitors are welcome to tour the “race ways,” “trout runs,” by themselves during normal business hours and will see thousands of trout in the various stages of development from the large “brood stock” used to produce them to the smallest of trout. In addition, guided tours of the hatchery depart the Visitors Center from Memorial Day to Labor Day on weekdays at 10 and 11 AM and 1 and 2 PM. The Visitor Center opens at 9:00 AM every day except, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

Displays of wildflowers and plants common to the Ozarks are displayed in a natural setting, with most being identified, in the area just outside the Visitor’s Center. Activities inside the Center include a nature display, a huge aquarium with “lunker” Brown and Rainbow Trout and an informative 15 minute “movie” showing how the how the hatchery produces the trout that has made Lake Taneycomo the prime trout fishery that it is.

The Visitor Center also has volunteers and Department of Conservation personnel available to answer questions as well as maps and information showing the system of four trails that winds through the undeveloped area of the Conservation Center. These trails vary in length and are ideal for families to share together. The “White River Corridor Trail” is particularly enjoyable because it parallels Lake Taneycomo for almost its entire length, is only 0.4 of a mile in length, one way, and provides a spectacular “kaleidoscope” view of the fog shrouding Lake Taneycomo early on warm summer mornings burning off as the sun rises.

Except for a coin operated dispenser for trout food for those wanting to feed the trout in the raceways, all the activities at the hatchery are free. Whether it’s a few minutes or a few hours, The Shepherd of the Hills Trout Hatchery is another one of those things that makes Branson, Missouri the memorable unique travel destination it is.

Branson earns Traveler’s Choice for Top 25 U. S. Destinations

Main Street Cruise's Landing Princess and Lake Queen viewing Branson Landing's spectacular Water and Fire Show.

Main Street Cruise’s Landing Princess and Lake Queen viewing Branson Landing’s spectacular Water and Fire Show.

“Branson visitors are just amazing,” said Annette Wood, director of sales and marketing, for the Branson Tourism Center. “What a humbling experience that so many of them would take the time to comment on TripAdvisor® that Branson, a little town in the heart of the Ozark Mountains, would, for the first time, make the top 25 List of U.S. Destinations in ‘TripAdvisors® 6th Annual Traveler’s Choice Destination Awards’ along with cities such as New York, Orlando, and New Orleans,” she added. Joining Branson, who was number 19 on the list, as “newbies to the top 25 was San Diego (7), Austin (18), Atlanta (20), Phoenix (21), St. Louis (23) and Nashville (24).

In announcing the awards, Barbara Messing, chief marketing officer for TripAdvisor said, “If you’re looking for trip inspiration, look no further than the Travelers’ Choice Destinations.” The award is based on the “quantity and quality of reviews and ratings for hotels, attractions and restaurants in destinations” that are “gathered over a 12-month period.” The description accompanying the award listing highlighted the number and variety of Branson shows, the natural beauty of the Ozarks and the “great fishing, hiking, biking and water sports” available in Branson.

Larry Milton, owner of Main Street Lake Cruises whose two boats, the Lake Queen and the Landing Princess, are featured in the illustration of the description accompanying the award listing said, “How neat is that, Branson is featured in the top 25 of this award list because of the efforts that travelers to Branson have made based on their own great Branson experiences. What a testimony to the efforts of our entertainers, shows, attractions, lodging providers and everyone else in Branson’s tourism industry who help provide our guests with that great experience.”

Branson Tourism Center’s Wood invites everyone to visit Branson and experience firsthand why this special little town nestled in the Ozarks is listed as one of the top 25 destinations in the U.S. For information on Branson shows, attractions, lodging and everything else that Branson offers please feel free to call the Branson Tourism Center toll free at 1-800-875-1550 or through its website, www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

Don’t you deserve to play golf in Branson?

Branson Creek's par 3 195 yard 4th Hole.

A recent column in Golfweek entitled Branson, Bass Pro Shops could land Legends of Golf reminds us of just how good the quality of the golfing available in Branson is. Along with reporting that, “if a deal is reached, the 36th rendition of the popular two-man team PGA event [Legends of Golf] could be held in June at the Branson Creek Golf Club. The article also pointed out that Branson Creek is the No. 2 course in Missouri on “Golfweek’s 2013 Best Courses You Can Play List.” The No. 1 course on the same list is the Payne Stewart Golf Club, another Branson course, making Branson home to the top two out of only five Missouri courses on the list.

“That’s another one of the things that makes Branson such a great place for people and families to vacation and come to for a good time,” said Annette Wood, Director of Sales and Marketing, for the Branson Tourism Center. “It’s not just the great variety of shows, attractions, lakes, shopping, lodging restaurants and other activities, but the quality of what is offered,” she added.

The $32 million Payne Stewart Golf Club is Branson’s newest golf course and is located in Branson Hills. Designed by Chuck Smith, with consultation from PGA golfer Bobby Clampett, it is a tribute course to Payne Stewart with each hole designed to honor his career and memory. The 18 hole course is 7,324 yards from the Gold Tees and has a par of 72.

The Branson Creek Golf Course is located just south of Branson near the Branson Airport in the Branson Creek Development. It is a 7,036 yard par 71 course from its longest tees and tactically, as well as scenically, takes advantage of the surrounding valleys and plateaus of the Ozarks.

In addition to the courses mentioned iabove there are two other courses that are readily available to Branson visitors, the Thousand Hills Golf Course and Pointe Royal Golf Course. These two courses and Payne Stewart Golf Club are all located within the city limits of Branson, within ten minutes of each other and are located within five minutes from the famed Branson Strip. Thousand Hills and Pointe Royale are open year round.

Branson is an exciting golfing destination by itself, but when coupled with the other golf courses in the area, it offers a choice that provides a fun filled and challenging golfing experience for beginners as well as the more advanced players that is unrivaled for a vacation destination of its size. And when you are through golfing there is all the adventure, fun, entertainment and excitement that Branson is known for. That’s a hard combination to beat anytime, but especially on Spring Break during the beauty of an Ozark Spring.

 

Mother Nature puts on a Branson show for Fall

The first blush of 2011's Fall colors as viewed from Point Lookout at the College of the Ozarks.

BRANSON, MO, September 25, 2013 – From that first tint of color to the peaceful drift of cascading leaves falling from the trees, the foliage of the Ozark Mountains in Branson provides a beautiful canvas for one of Branson’s best shows, brought to you by Mother Nature. Foliage color typically comes with warm days and cool nights, according to Greg Cassell, Resources Forester for the Missouri Department of Conservation. He says the colors peak during the third week in October. And because of Branson’s designation as a “Tree City,” the area has learned to grow while still protecting this important part of the natural landscape.

“We had a pretty wet spring this year,” said Tammy Johnson, Director of Operations for Branson Tourism Center, “meaning the colors should be a visual delight for our visitors.” One of our visitor’s most common questions is, “What’s the best way to see the foliage?” Johnson responds that there really is no best way; fall beauty is simply there at just about every turn. With that said, Johnson suggests that your list of things not to miss should be topped by the “unique panoramic” view found from the deck of the Lake Queen, a historic paddlewheel boat operated by Main Street Lake Cruises. Using “up close” and “panoramic” together to describe this stunning view of the Ozark Mountains seems contradictory, but in the case of the Lake Queen, it’s the perfect way to describe the experience.

The Lake Queen cruises Lake Taneycomo, a long and narrow impoundment of the White River, with shorelines much closer together than what can be found on Table Rock Lake. A typical sightseeing cruise on the Lake Queen provides an up-close chance to view Branson’s abundant wildlife in its natural environment. The majestic bald eagle, the great blue heron, a variety of smaller birds, and deer are a common sight along the lake’s shoreline. You can enjoy the wildlife and panoramic vistas only found from your vantage point on the water. As the foliage changes color, these vistas turn into a magnificent canvas of nature’s painting.

As seen from the bow of the Lake Queen, one can only imagine what this scene will look like over the next month as the foliage changes color.

Another unique fall view comes from the lofty heights of the 230-foot-tall Inspiration Tower located atop Inspiration Point, one of the highest points in southwest Missouri. Found at Shepherd of the Hills homestead, the tower provides an unparalleled panoramic view of the Ozarks’ foliage from a different perspective. Glass elevators transport guests up the enclosed observation deck from which, on a clear day, hundreds of square miles of foliage can be viewed as far as 90 miles away, presenting a spectacular view unmatched anywhere. Enjoy the view while leisurely strolling along the deck, or take a more thrilling sightseeing approach by zipping down from the tower on the Vigilante Ziprider. A quick trip in a comfy seat, hitting speeds up to 45 mph, and met at the bottom by a shuttle that will take you on a meandering trip through the beautiful Shepherd of the Hills’ grounds, returning you to the tower.

There are a number of scenic lookouts that provide a superb birds-eye view of the Ozarks’ fall foliage. These include lookouts on State Route 165, about a mile south of its intersection with State Route 265; the Table Rock Dam overlook, located on the south end of Table Rock Dan, across the road from the Dewey Short Visitors Center, and the Henning Conservation Area lookout located about a mile west of the junction of State Route 76 and State Route 376 on the north side of the road. There are also scenic lookouts only minutes away in several of the small communities surrounding Branson.

Another excellent panoramic view is provided at Point Lookout on the campus of College of the Ozarks. Located atop a bluff overlooking Lake Taneycomo, it provides a unique vista of both Branson’s fall foliage and the narrow winding lake; a simply breathtaking sight. While at the College, you might plan to eat at the Keeter Center, famous for their massive Sunday brunch that features food raised or grown on campus. Include a visit to Edwards Grist Mill and one of the area’s best kept secrets, the Ralph Foster Museum, affectionately known as the Smithsonian of the Ozarks. The museum is home to one of the only remaining Beverly Hillbillies’ trucks featured on the beloved television show.

Branson Tourism Center’s Tammy Johnson will also tell you that a great way to see wide-ranging views of Branson’s fall foliage is aboard the Showboat Branson Belle on Table Rock Lake, or on the Branson Scenic Railway, a real old-fashioned steam engine train.

Cruising into spectacular Branson Fall foliage

View of the first "blush" of Fall foliage from the bow of the "Landing Princess."

BRANSON, Mo., August 25, 2013 – “The rains experienced during July and August have set Branson up to have a great fall foliage season,” said Loralei McCoy, Director of Operations for Main Street Lake Cruises. “It’s a spectacular show put on by Mother Nature and one of the best seats ‘in the house’ to experience it is on Lake Taneycomo while cruising aboard one of Main Street Lake Cruises’ boats,” she added.

Lake Taneycomo, is a long narrow impoundment of the White River, with its shorelines being much closer together than other lakes such as Table Rock and Bull Shoals Lakes providing a unique opportunity to truly experience the brilliance, color and vividness of the Ozark’s fall foliage. A typical cruise aboard one of Main Street Lake Cruises’ boats is a spectacular experience any time of the year offering an up close chance to view Bald Eagles, Great Blue Herons, other birds, deer, other wildlife, panoramic vistas and bluffs not available through any other means except by boat on Lake Taneycomo. They are seen by very few the millions who visit Branson each year.

As the foliage changes color, these panoramic vistas turn into magnificent “masterpieces” that have to be seen to be believed. Operating the only cruises on Lake Taneycomo, whether on a sightseeing cruise aboard the Lake Queen, a modern day replica of the grand riverboats which used to ply the White River or a dinner cruise aboard the 100 foot luxury yacht Landing Princess, the boats of Main Street Lake Cruises provide an unparalleled view of not only the magnificent beauty of the changing Ozark’s foliage, but of Lake Taneycomo and its natural scenic wonders.

Main Street Lake Cruises’ McCoy points out that, depending on the weather, the first blush of color is toward the end of September with its peak at about the third week of October. Because of the popularity of these cruises she suggests making advance reservations. For additional information on Branson’s fall foliage season or Main Street Lake Cruises please call 1-877-382-6287.