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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Dogwood Canyon, home of natural wonders plus an elk and bison preserve

Ready for a mug shot!
Dogwood Canyon near Branson, MO, surpassed my expectations. If I can combine enjoying nature's beauty with photographing wildlife, I am in seventh heaven. Dogwood Canyon gave me ample opportunity for both.

Wilderness Chapel
Visitors can see Dogwood Canyon by tram, horseback, bicycle or hiking. The tram tour is the only one that also allows people to visit the wildlife preserve. An adventure pass includes fishing. The streams are stocked with rainbow trout.

Trams run throughout the day (you can check schedules at through this 10,000-acre park. The road through the canyon runs alongside Ozark spring-fed streams stocked with rainbow trout. Waterfalls abound with plenty of great photo ops.

This family-friendly nature park was the brainchild of Johnny Morris, the owner of Bass Pro Shops. His commitment to conservation found a home in this Ozark wilderness that stretches from Missouri into Arkansas. "It's so well-laid out," my husband commented. "There's plenty of room for all kinds of activities."

The two-hour tram tour winds past a wilderness chapel, rugged bluffs, caves, and the musical sounds of waterfalls. You'll see folks fishing and hiking as the tram guide drives a road that is smooth in some places and naturally rough in others. You may even get splashed from waterfalls along the road. You'll certainly want to stick your hand in the crystal clear water.

I boarded the tram with my telephoto lens on my camera. Tony, our guide, urged me to replace it with my wide-angle lens. "We'll probably get too close to the elk to shoot with a telephoto," he advised. He was right. The highlight of the tour included an elk giving me an up close and personal mug shot opportunity, a bull elk bugling and a couple of bison calves. Wow, I fell in love with the park!

The park caters to fishing, offering fly-fishing school, a casting clinic and plenty of places to try your luck.

And for the dog lovers among us, you can take your furry friend hiking with you.

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