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Our Stay at Big Cedar Lodge, America’s Premier Wilderness Resort

Y’all, I have found a new slice of paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and families! Big Cedar Lodge in Branson, Missouri.

Billed as “America’s Premier Wilderness Resort”, BCL is on Southern Living’s South’s Best list for 2019. Brandon and I went there for a wedding this last May and there is outdoor recreation available for all ages and interests.

While there’s plenty to do for outdoor lovers, the accommodations are comfortable enough that the entire family can enjoy it.

  • 10 Hours from Austin, TX
  • 45 minutes from the nearest airport

Big Cedar Lodge was built by owner of Bass Pro Shops, so there are fish everywhere—either painted, welded, or engraved into nearly every flat surface on the property, from the parking lot stripes to the wood clothing rods in the closets.

The drive from the front gate to the main lodge is breathtaking and gets you in the outdoor spirit. It winds through the woods and has big views of Missouri’s lush green hills and the nearby lake. Most people I talk to are surprised to hear about how beautiful Missouri can be, but its very lush and especially charming in the Ozarks. I definitely would put a trip here on your outdoor “bucket list.”

Table Rock Lake

The resort sits on a hill above Table Rock Lake, where there is a marina, small beach, and a pretty walking trail on the edge of the lake.

On the morning of the wedding we booked a lake tour in a little wooden motor boat called the Goin’ Jessi, which was once owned by Waylon Jennings.

You can book it here: Table Rock Lake Marina or by calling the resort.

I was 5 months pregnant at the time, and it was sweltering, (there was no shade on the boat) but it was fun nonetheless. It was very affordable and it didn’t require much time, which was a huge plus given all there is to see and do at the resort!

What Not to Miss

The highest point of the property, “Top of the Rock” is a must-see and has a museum, restaurant, chapel, wine tasting room, and reception area and is absolutely stunning–a place you will not want to miss!

At sunset, they play bagpipes out on the lawn and it is magical. For my friend’s wedding, they fired off a canon as we all came out of the chapel.

Top of the Rock also has a huge Native American artifact collection to see if you’re into history.


We stayed with some friends in one of the cutest log cabins I’ve ever seen! It looked like something out of a Ralph Lauren ad.

I can only imagine how charming it is at Christmas time, which supposedly is a great time to visit the resort. It had a fridge and a kitchen and would be perfect for a family to stay in.

(In addition to cabins, there are also rooms you can rent in the main buildings.)

Dogwood Canyon Nature Preserve

This is a separate property just a few minutes away from the resort, with a ton of wildlife to see (like elk and bison!) and plenty to do. I would set aside an entire day for this. The highlights would be the wildlife tram tour and the horseback rides. Other offerings:

  • Hiking
  • Trout Fishing (this is supposed to be excellent and EASY!)
  • Fly fishing academy
  • Biking

Walking Trail

We enjoyed getting our morning coffee and strolling along the paved walking trail that connects the cabins and the main lodge. Its not too long and would be doable with a stroller.

Historic bridge on the property
View from the walking trail

Gift shop

The gift shop is pretty good, especially if you are looking for some cute outdoorsy themed things.

Fun Mountain

While the rest of the resort is all about doing things outside, Fun Mountain is the perfect place to go with kids on a hot or rainy day because it’s inside and air conditioned! There are bumper cars, a low ropes course, arcade games, laser tag, a golf simulator, and the most unique bowling alley I’ve ever been to.

Shooting Academy

Everything including the guns are provided!

Other Things to Do

It’s impossible to cover it all in one post! But there is golf, a cave to tour, bowfishing, yoga and other fitness classes, swimming, and archery. Don’t worry–you will not get bored!

How Long to Stay

There is SO much to do–I would allow at least 3 full days not including arrival/departure.

What to Bring

This is a very casual resort and you will be fine in your comfy clothes! I would be sure to bring low top hiking shoes or tennis shoes because you will do a lot of walking.

How to Get There

  • Drive — roughly 10 hours from Austin (we did it in 1 day)
  • Fly — you can fly into either Springfield or Branson. Branson is the closest and Springfield is about 45 minutes away.

We need one of these places in Texas but until that happens I will have to return to Missouri. I can’t wait to take my little boy and do all of these things when he is old enough!