How exciting it was to get out into the Ozark hills on a guided tram tour of Dogwood Canyon Nature Park! This is a beautiful canyon that covers 10,000 acres of the pristine Ozark Mountain landscape and was purchased by Johnny Morris in 1990. Back in February I heard of Johnny Morris for the first time when we visited Bass Pro Shop and saw the Big Cedar Lodge at the Pyramid in Memphis. Johnny Morris, is the CEO founder of Bass Pro Shops and while he purchased the land, today it is run by the Dogwood Canyon Foundation, a non-profit organization that protects the plant life and natural environment.
The tour I took was part of the North American Travel Journalist (NATJA) conference. It was fun to be in the tram with a bunch travel writers oohing and awing over the waterfalls, cliffs, blooming dogwoods and best of all trying to get the perfect shot of the cattle and wildlife. One travel writer that sat behind me, I swear the Texas long horn literally turned his head and posed for him. He had the picture of the century.
Our guide, Nancy Lee was amazing, as we trammed along, she shared stories about the park and we learned that the park reopened not too long ago after extensive flooding last year. Nancy Lee said that the park was closed for five months but they opened better than before.
Visitors can come to this private park and for a fee can walk, bike or tour. There is a restaurant on site, the Mill and Canyon Grill along with a working grist mill. There is also a gift shop and a museum area of Native American artifacts from Johnny Morris’s collection.
The grist mill caught my attention and I got the chance to interview miller Blake Adams about the Bent Mountain Mill that was originally located in Franklin County Virginia and began operations in 1905. The mill was reconstructed onsite at the park in 2016. Watch for a column in Farm World telling the story about this beautiful agricultural preservation! The mill is operational and they actually grind corn and grits and sell it and use it in their restaurant.
Tram tours last two hours and wind through the canyon floor. We viewed towering bluffs and waterfalls, and toured the beautiful chapel where many weddings take place. The tram tour takes visitors from Missouri on across the Arkansas border where the tour may mingle, like ours did with herds of American bison, elk, whitetail deer and Texas longhorn.
Dogwood Nature Canyon was glorious and made me believe that Mother Nature actually intended to move from winter to spring. The water, the woods and the cliffs were awe inspiring and just what I needed to restore a bit of peace into a go-go on the move type of life. I don’t think we take enough time to recharge our batteries and nothing does this like getting out in nature!
For more information about Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, log onto http://www.dogwoodcanyon.org.