State Park Marina

Table Rock State Park:
A Park for All Seasons


Written By Shannon Whitney
From MISSOURI resources, Winter 2011 • Volume 28 • Number 1
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State Park Marina

Tucked behind Table Rock Dam lies one of the premier tourist destinations in southwest Missouri: Table Rock State Park. With 356 acres and access to Table Rock Lake, the park is one of the most visited in the state.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed Table Rock Dam in 1958, creating the lake. Table Rock State Park was created in 1959 and is today one of more than 80 state parks and historic sites operated by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. It offers camping, boating, picnicking, hiking trails and a full-service marina for local residents and visitors to the Branson area.

Table Rock State Park sees a steady stream of visitors year round with the summer being the busiest season. The lake and the Branson area draw tourists from all over Missouri and the United States. Visitors can stay in the well-maintained campgrounds, enjoy the shady trails and explore State Park Marina. Families can use the lake and the campground for a memorable, nature filled vacation close to all the action of Branson. Branson is full of tourist attractions from the world-famous shows to the outlet malls so there is something for everyone in town. Nearby, Lake Taneycomo has some of the best trout fishing found in the midwestern U.S.

Visitors love watching the seasons change at Table Rock State Park, especially in the spring and the fall. Even when it is too cold for some to camp in tents, campsites with sewer, water and electric hook-ups make it easy to stay warm in a recreational vehicle or camper. The winter brings families back to see the holiday shows and lights in Branson, especially Silver Dollar City.

The campground at Table Rock State Park is very popular. Lolita Hall, from Osawatomie, Kan., has been camping at Table Rock State Park four or five times each year for the last 10 years. She returns each year with her husband and recently, her daughter and son-in-law joined the family tradition.

“The campgrounds are so nice and clean. They’re away from town a little bit so you have some privacy. We just love it here,” Hall said.

Table Rock State Park’s campground has three shower houses, laundry facilities and campground hosts to make any length of stay comfortable. Two-thirds of the 162 campsites can be reserved in advance. The remaining 54 sites are open to campers on a first come, first-served basis.

For those who are camping or just coming for the day, picnic areas and fire pits are perfect for outdoor cooking and family gatherings. The park has a pavilion for large groups. An interpreter provides programs in the amphitheater and leads nature hikes.

Table Rock State Park currently offers two trails for visitors interested in biking and hiking. The Chinquapin Trail is a shorter, shady trail and is perfect for hikers, especially families with younger children. The Table Rock Lakeshore Trail is 2.2 miles long and winds along the lake, providing a paved surface for cyclists. Visitors enjoy panoramic lake views and listen to the gentle lapping of the waves on the shore.

With the help of volunteers and the State Parks Youth Corps, Table Rock State Park will be opening a third trail. The White River Valley Trail will consist of four loops totaling 10.25 miles. This longer trail through the woods will be a scenic and peaceful oasis for hikers and mountain bikers. Lucky hikers might see some of the native wildlife, including whitetail deer, raccoons, lizards, squirrels and turkeys.

Table Rock Lake is a major attraction in the park and the State Park Marina located on the shoreline provides many ways to enjoy the water. The full-service marina boasts the most fun above, on and even under the water.

The marina has more than 65 rental boats and wave runners available on an hourly and daily basis. Scuba divers can gear up at the scuba shop and lessons are available for those wanting to get up close and personal with the fish. Lance Junck, age 11, recently finished his scuba certification so he can join the rest of his family in the depths of Table Rock Lake.

“It’s a whole new world down there. It’s not like anything you’ve ever seen,” Junck said.

Another popular activity at State Park Marina is parasailing. Those looking for an unbeatable view of the lake and the surrounding countryside can sail 300 feet behind “Captain Sam’s” boat. Getting wet is optional, so parasailing stays popular until well into the fall. Most parasailers opt for what Captain Sam calls the “Table Rock Baptism,” which is a quick dunk into the lake.

The Spirit of America, a 48-foot Caribbean style catamaran, provides a special way to experience the lake. Winter 2011 21 (Opposite page) Table Rock State Park’s full-service marina offers many options for enjoying Table Rock Lake, from parasailing above the water to renting diving gear to explore below. (Below) A new multi-use trail around the shore of Table Rock Lake provides a great place for a morning run. ns Scheduled cruises are held every day during the season and the water slide, water trampoline and kayaks that it tows are especially popular with lake enthusiasts.

After dropping anchor in a cove, everyone puts on life jackets and plays on the inflatables. The evening cruise is geared toward relaxing and watching the sunset on the waters of Table Rock Lake. The Spirit of America is also available for group and private charters.

During the summer, guests can eat at Danna’s Boathouse Barbecue or the snow cone stand. The marina store offers snacks, souvenirs and lake necessities for boaters and campers. The marina includes 700 boat slips for rent and there is a boat launch area located within the park.

Table Rock State Park’s wide variety of activities and features promise something for everyone and year-round fun. Each year, between 1.1 and 1.4 million visitors come for the camping, trails and lake access. It’s easy to see why it was voted Best State Park in 2010 by AAA Midwest Traveler magazine.

When asked about his favorite part of the park, Park Superintendent Carl Bonnell said, “The water quality and view of Table Rock Lake are probably my biggest draws.”

Table Rock State Park is located on Highway 165 southwest of Branson. For more information on the park, call 417-334- 4704 or the Department of Natural Resources toll-free at 800-334-6946.

For more information about state parks and historic sites, visit mostateparks.com.

TABLE ROCK LAKE • BRANSON MISSOURI