Ozark Mountain State Park Visitor’s Guide (Top Spots To See)

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Nestled in the picturesque Ozark Mountains, Shepherd of the Hills State Park is a must-visit destination for those seeking a getaway immersed in nature and rich with cultural experiences. Having changed its name from Ozark Mountain State Park in 2022, this remarkable location offers visitors a diverse range of activities and sights that capture the essence of the Ozarks.

From the breathtaking scenic views to the historical and cultural significance of the region, Shepherd of the Hills State Park provides an unforgettable experience for families, outdoors enthusiasts, and history buffs alike. As you embark on your journey through this striking landscape, marvel at the extraordinary lakes and rivers, and indulge in the vibrant local culture that makes the Ozark Mountains truly unforgettable.

Ozark Mountain State Park Overview

Park Features

Located in the beautiful Ozark Mountains of Missouri, the Ozark Mountain State Park, now known as Shepherd of the Hills State Park, is an undeveloped public recreation area that spans over 1,011 acres. The park is nestled between the Boston Mountains in Arkansas and the Ozark Plateau, offering stunning vistas and a rich natural environment for visitors to explore. Although the park is still closed for public input on future uses, the potential attractions are endless. It is worth noting that the Ozark Mountain State Park is position is within the Ozark National Forest, which is filled with opportunities for camping, hiking, and wildlife watching.

Visitor Center

As the park is currently undeveloped, there is no existing visitor center on site. However, to stay up to date on the park’s future development, you can visit the Ozark Gateway Interactive Visitor’s Guide for information on neighboring attractions and accommodations in the region.

With its evolving status and potential for future growth, Ozark Mountain State Park in Missouri promises to be an exciting destination for nature enthusiasts. The diverse ecosystem, range of flora and fauna, and stunning surroundings make this an ideal location to enjoy the best of the Ozark Mountains and the broader region of Arkansas and Missouri.

Activities and Recreation

Hiking and Trails

The Ozark Mountain State Park offers a wide range of hiking and trails for visitors to explore the beautiful landscapes, glades, and waterfalls. You can choose from easy to challenging trails depending on your skill level and preferences. These trails will take you through various ecosystems leading to pristine swimming holes and breathtaking viewpoints.

Water Activities

Rivers, lakes, and swimming holes are abundant throughout the park. Visitors can participate in various water activities such as kayaking, canoeing, and rafting at select locations. The park’s many rivers and lakes provide ample opportunities for floating, swimming, or just relaxing by the water.


For mountain biking enthusiasts, the Ozark Mountain State Park features several trails designed specifically for biking. These biking routes range from beginner-friendly paths to more challenging terrains for experienced cyclists. The park’s diverse landscape provides a thrilling adventure for bikers seeking an adrenaline rush.

Horseback Riding

Experience the Ozark Mountain State Park’s beauty on horseback by taking advantage of the guided trail rides available within the park. Suitable for riders of all skill levels, these equestrian adventures allow you to explore the park’s trails and natural wonders in a unique way.


The park’s numerous rivers, lakes, and streams offer an excellent opportunity for fishing enthusiasts. Anglers can expect to find a variety of fish species in these water bodies, including trout and bass. Whether you prefer fishing from the shore or by boat, the park provides countless spots for a memorable fishing experience.

Natural Attractions

The Ozark Mountain State Park offers a wide range of natural attractions, showcasing the breathtaking beauty of the region. In this visitor’s guide, we’ll cover some must-see destinations, which include waterfalls and swimming holes, the Buffalo River, Blanchard Springs Caverns, and scenic views and lookouts.

Waterfalls and Swimming Holes

The Ozarks are home to numerous picturesque waterfalls and swimming holes, perfect for a refreshing dip or family outing. As rain adds to the flow of streams and rivers, you can witness these waterfalls at their full glory. Some popular spots to visit include** Twin Falls**, Eden Falls, and Falling Water Falls. These natural wonders not only offer an opportunity to cool off but also provide beautiful scenery for photographs.

Buffalo River

The Buffalo National River is a significant attraction in the Ozarks, flowing through limestone bluffs, glades, and forested areas. As America’s first National River, it not only holds historical importance but also offers opportunities for visitors to engage in kayaking, canoeing, fishing, and hiking in the surrounding wilderness.

Blanchard Springs Caverns

Explore the underground world at Blanchard Springs Caverns, a magical three-level cave system showcasing the immense beauty hidden beneath the Ozark Mountains. Marvel at the stunning stalactite and stalagmite formations and learn about the cavern’s geology and history during your guided tour.

Scenic Views and Lookouts

The Ozarks provide an abundance of incredible scenic views and lookouts, allowing visitors to appreciate the vast natural beauty of the region. Experience the breathtaking landscape by visiting locations such as Whitaker Point, Sam’s Throne, and Pedestal Rocks. These spots offer panoramic vistas of the surrounding forests, limestone bluffs, and valleys, making them perfect locations for photography or simply taking in the awe-inspiring scenery.

History and Culture

The Ozark Mountain Region, also known as the Ozarks, spans across northern Arkansas and boasts a rich cultural and historical past. Visitors to the Ozarks can discover the stories and traditions passed down through generations with experiences unique to this area.

Ozark Folk Center State Park

In the heart of Mountain View, the Ozark Folk Center State Park offers a glimpse into the Ozark way of life, showcasing traditional arts, crafts, and music. Visitors can explore the on-site Craft Village, enjoy live music performances, and learn about the history of the Ozarks through interactive workshops and exhibits. The Center is dedicated to preserving the region’s unique culture and hospitality, inviting guests to immerse themselves in authentic Ozark experiences.

Historic Towns and Cities

The Ozarks is home to several historic towns and cities, each with its own distinct charm and character. For example, in the bustling city of Branson, visitors can find a plethora of entertainment options, from live shows and theme parks to museums and scenic train rides. Branson’s rich history is evident in the preservation of its historic downtown area and the role of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in building the infrastructure of the region during the 1930s and 1940s.

Other notable historic towns in the Ozarks include Eureka Springs, with its Victorian architecture and art galleries, and Fayetteville, which houses the University of Arkansas and boasts plenty of museums, galleries, and theaters.

Heritage and Festivals

The Ozarks celebrates its cultural heritage with a variety of festivals throughout the year, encompassing music, food, and traditional crafts. Some popular events include the Ozark Folk Festival, the Eureka Springs Jazz Festival, and the Bean Fest and Championship Outhouse Race in Mountain View. These events honor the history of the region and showcase the talents and creativity of its people.

Through visiting historic towns, exploring the Ozark Folk Center State Park, and attending local festivals, visitors to the Ozark Mountain State Park can gain a deeper understanding of the rich cultural fabric that defines the region. This blend of history and contemporary attractions makes the Ozarks a captivating place to experience and enjoy.

Outdoor Outfitters and Services

Guided Tours

Exploring the Ozark Mountain State Park is an unforgettable experience, and to make the most of it, consider joining one of the many guided tours offered by local outfitters. These professionals are well versed in the park’s unique features, such as the short leaf pine forests and the picturesque Ozark Highlands Trail. With their expert knowledge and passion for the park, these guides ensure your time spent in this natural wonder will be both enjoyable and informative.

Equipment Rentals

If you’re looking to connect with the park’s vibrant community of artisans, or if you prefer to explore at your own pace, equipment rentals can help make your Ozark adventure as convenient and flexible as possible. Many local outfitters offer a wide range of gear for rent, including:

  • Hiking boots and trekking poles
  • Camping equipment like tents and sleeping bags
  • Canoes, kayaks and life vests for river excursions

From experienced adventurers to first-time visitors, these services cater to all skill levels, ensuring an enjoyable and hassle-free experience in the Ozark Mountain State Park. So, whether you’re embarking on a new nature-filled journey or revisiting beloved trails, rest assured that your outdoor adventure will be well supported by the high-quality equipment and knowledgeable outfitters available in the Ozark Mountain State Park region.


When planning your visit to Ozark Mountain State Park, also known as Shepherd of the Hills State Park, there are a variety of accommodations to choose from, ranging from camping options to hotels and resorts.

Camping Options

For visitors who prefer to be close to nature, there are several campgrounds within the park and its surrounding areas. These campgrounds typically offer basic amenities such as restrooms, showers, and picnic areas. Don’t forget to check the park’s official website for details on camping permits and fees.

Hotels and Resorts

If you’re looking for a more comfortable stay, there are numerous hotels and resorts within a short drive from the park. The nearby town of Eureka Springs offers a variety of lodging options including charming bed and breakfasts, historic hotels, and luxury resorts. Some popular options in the area include:

  • Eureka Zen Cottages: A boutique hotel offering cozy suites with a touch of modern luxury.
  • Crescent Hotel & Spa: A historic hotel featuring elegant rooms, fine dining, and a full-service spa.
  • Best Western Inn of the Ozarks: A budget-friendly option with standard amenities and a convenient location.

Vacation Rentals

For those looking for a more private and home-like atmosphere, vacation rentals are an excellent option. These accommodations can range from quaint cabins to spacious homes and are often available for short or long-term stays. Sites like Airbnb and VRBO provide a wide selection of vacation rentals in the Ozark Mountain area, making it easy to find a property that suits your needs.

Ozark Trails Information

Ozark Trail Section Hikes

The Ozark Trail offers over 390 miles of scenic trails throughout the Ozark Mountains. Some popular sections include the Blair Creek, Current River, and Between the Rivers trails. The diverse scenery along these trails provides a stunning backdrop for hikers and horseback riders.

The Current River section, for example, runs alongside the river and features beautiful views of the surrounding forest. Stegall Mountain is another highlight, offering panoramic vistas and unique geological features such as shut-ins and rocky creek formations. Whether you’re looking for an easy day hike or a challenging multi-day adventure, the Ozark Trail has something for everyone.

Trail Maps and Interactive Resources

To help plan your Ozark Trail adventure, various maps and interactive resources are available. The Ozark National Scenic Riverways website provides information about the park’s maintained trails. Additionally, a free download of the Ozark Trail Association’s map can be found here, which includes key points of interest and trail specifications.

For those seeking a more interactive experience, numerous online forums and groups can offer valuable insights from fellow hikers, including tips on the best trail sections, seasonal highlights, and other useful information. By utilizing these resources and preparing yourself with maps and information, you can confidently embark on your Ozark Trail adventure.


Shepherd of the Hills State Park, formerly known as Ozark Mountain State Park, is more than just a breathtaking spectacle of nature; it’s a veritable haven of cultural richness and recreational activities that cater to every type of adventurer.

As it continues to evolve and grow, the park is set to become an increasingly captivating destination in the heart of the Ozarks. Regardless of whether you are a seasoned explorer or a first-time visitor, Shepherd of the Hills State Park extends a warm welcome, inviting you to partake in its wealth of offerings and to lose yourself in its enchanting landscapes.