In the middle of a 10,000 acre paradise – which gives people the chance to experience the natural beauty of the Ozark Mountains and interact with nature up close through fishing, wildlife tours and outdoor recreation – the most majestic sight may not be the biggest, the highest, the deepest or the oldest. But it’s a living monument to history, nature and the importance of preserving both – and it’s one of Johnny Morris’ favorite things.
A white bison named Takoda – a Sioux word meaning “everyone’s friend” – 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 Arkansas ridges where herds of bison, elk, and oxen reside. deer. According to the website, park officials hope the striking addition will provide new opportunities to educate the public about the American bison’s unique history 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 all over southwestern Missouri, from the original location of Bass Pro Shops 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 the White River with his family and started Bass Pro Shops in 1971, selling gear off the shelf of his father’s Brown Derby liquor store in Springfield.
“Here in the heart of the Ozarks, we are surrounded by such rich history. Not only are Johnny Morris and our conservation attractions helping to preserve this history, but they are inspiring people to connect with the great outdoors,” said Samantha Gerhart, spokesperson for the Johnny Morris Foundation.
“Because of Johnny Morris’ commitment to conservation over the past few years, we have seen the quantity and quality of our wildlife population increase,” Gerhart continues. “The park also has a rich and interesting history. The Indian burial cave and many caves in our park have been studied by archaeologists, and through radiocarbon dating it has been determined that the many remains that have been found were individuals dating from 400 to 960 AD, including one dating from even 6000 BC. It 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 WWI.
But, she adds, aside from its historical significance, Dogwood Canyon offers “endless outdoor activities for all ages.”
“Each season the park takes on a whole new personality and always has something exciting to share,” says Gerhart. “In the spring, the dogwoods and redbuds bloom. During the summer months, on our Wildlife Tram Tours, you can welcome baby bison and elk born in June. In the fall, reds, oranges, and yellows paint the canyon, welcoming leaf peepers to admire the vibrant fall foliage. During the winter months, dozens of bald eagles make their home in our winter wonderland from nearby Table Rock Lake, providing the closest wild bald eagle viewing experience in all of 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 the treehouse masters of ‘Animal Planet,’ she says. “There is also horse riding and trout fishing. Combining education and adventure, there truly is something for everyone here at Dogwood Canyon.”
Dogwood Canyon Nature Park
WHEN — 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily
WHERE — 2038 W. Missouri 86, Lamp, Mo.
COST — One-day child admission starts at $11.75, adult admission starts at $16.75; annual subscriptions start at $50 for a child, $70 for an adult
INFO — 877-459-5687 or dogwoodcanyon.org