Last May, several outdoor writers came to one of the most beautiful places in the Ozarks – Big Cedar Lodge, in Ridgedale, Missouri. Bass Pro Shops and Toyota hosted the event, “Outdoors in the Ozark Mountains,” that featured a wide range of outdoor activities, and kicked off with a day onsite at the new Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium in Springfield, Missouri.
Here’s the group at the event, minus Babbs, who was home icing her knee and hobbling on crutches at this point. (Courtney Smith photo)
While onsite, writers met and fished alongside some of the world’s top professional anglers, including Kevin VanDam, Gerald Swindle, Terry “Big Show” Scroggins and Mike McClelland. They got behind the wheels of the latest model Toyota trucks and SUVs, including the Tacoma, Tundra, 4Runner, Sequoia, Land Cruiser and RAV4 Adventure and headed through Dogwood Canyon, while putting gears and shifters to the test. Some of the writers chose to fly fish, horseback ride, play golf, waterski or shoot sporting clays. You can be assured that only the finest surroundings and best instructors had been enlisted for the trip.
Big Cedar Lodge bills itself as “America’s premier wilderness resort.” Bass Pro Shops’ Johnny Morris bought the real estate in 1987 and restored it to its former vacation paradise. It encompasses 4600 acres and overlooks one of America’s finest lakes, Table Rock Lake.
I started on the adventure, but got waylaid on the first day by a torn meniscus flare up and an ensuing trip home and to the doctor. Believe me, I hated to miss out on this adventure and supreme generosity of the hosts to create a memorable outing. Fortunately, Courtney Smith, aka Sportswoman Courtney, an ambassador for Bass Pro Shops,and Teri Anne Conrad, a freelance photographer from Arkansas who is a former motorcycle magazine editor, came to my rescue and sent these photos that tell the story of a great event, framed in a beautiful part of the country.
The WON witnessed opening day at Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium, and you can read the review here.
‘Outdoors in the Ozark Mountains’ Photo Gallery
Courtney Smith’s Photos
My group got to test drive a fleet of the new Toyota’s, OFF ROAD! It was so much fun and all the vehicles handled the unforgiving outdoor terrain with ease. This was super exciting for me because I’m currently thinking of saying goodbye to my 4-door sedan for a more rugged reliable outdoor vehicle. I’ve wanted a 4Runner since I was 16, but I feel like a truck suits my lifestyle more. This gave me the perfect opportunity to drive both the 4Runner and Tundra in some of the tight and dirty conditions I would experience in my everyday life. Both performed flawlessly. (Courtney Smith photo)
A major highlight of my trip was being able to talk with the all-star pro fishing team: Terry Scroggins, Gerald Swindle, Mike McClelland and Kevin VanDam. Sharing stories of the outdoors and getting tips from them including why they trust Toyota to haul their gear all over the country was an experience I’ll never forget. It is amazing how welcoming and down to earth the outdoor community is. (Courtney Smith photo)
I spent the final morning in Missouri fishing with Gerald Swindle and Bass Pro Shops ambassador Kaitlin Woodward. I love how the outdoors brings people together. (Courtney Smith photo)
Teri Anne Conrad’s Photos
Big Cedar Lodge offers a variety of outdoor activities, including paddling, kayaking, swimming and more. I can’t think of a better way to enjoy an afternoon while visiting the lodge and taking some time to unplug from the daily grind. The biggest challenge is deciding which activity to enjoy. (Teri Anne Conrad photo)
Yeah, that’s my mud all over that beautiful Toyota Tacoma. First time ever driving off-road, and I’m hooked. Not only did the Tacoma perform well when we missed our turn and got off-track, it took to water crossings and uneven terrain like a pro! Mud mot included. (Teri Anne Conrad photo)
Imagine my surprise when greeted by Professional Angler Terry Scroggins for a morning of fishing on beautiful Table Rock Lake. Not a bad way to be introduced to the sport of fishing. I can’t think of a better mentor for a first time of fishing for me. Once I got my casting under control, I was able to snag 6 fish in a row. Incredible! (Teri Anne Conrad photo)
Big Cedar Lodge recently opened its newest attraction, the Bass Pro Shops Shooting Academy. It’s a stunning outdoor shooting range overlooking Table Rock Lake that offers a variety of shooting sports such as sporting clays, skeet, 5-stand, and wobble trap. Our group decided on 5-stand and enjoyed cheering each other on. This was another first for me and I had an absolute “blast.” (Teri Anne Conrad photo)
Don’t let the Toyota RAV4’s size fool you. I never thought the Toyota RAV4 Adventure was capable of traversing this type of terrain, but as you see here it managed surprisingly well. If you’re thinking of dipping a toe in the world of off-roading, then the Adventure is a great way to go! (Teri Anne Conrad photo)
The cabins at Big Cedar Lodge were cozy and well appointed. I didn’t get a chance to use the wood burning fireplace, or hang out on the spacious deck, but I made it a point to enjoy bathing in the oversized tub more than once. You can’t help but feel pampered and refreshed after spending time here. (Teri Anne Conrad photo)
Publisher/Editor Barbara Baird is a freelance writer in hunting, shooting and outdoor markets. She is a contributing editor at "SHOT Business," and her bylines are found at several top hunting and shooting publications. She also is a travel writer, and you can follow her at https://www.ozarkian.com.
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