After Top of the Rock golf course closed due to a fire in its restaurant years ago, it didn’t just rebuild. Rather, it was transformed over seven years into a top-notch facility, on par with management’s Dogwood Canyon and Big Cedar Lodge (all owned by Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris). In addition to a world-class golf course, dining and drinking facilities like Buffalo Bar and Arnie’s Barn with spectacular views of Table Rock Lake, it also offers a chance to see the natural beauty and wonders of the Ozarks on the 2.5-mile Lost Canyon Cave & Nature Trail.
In a word, this adventure is a blast. Following a paved pathway, visitors drive their own four-seat golf cart (drivers must be at least 18 years old) on a pathway that travels past rock formations and waterfalls, provides vistas of Table Rock Lake, traverses two covered Amish bridges and winds through the Lost Canyon Cave with its four-story cascade. There’s even a drive-through bar at the entrance to the cave (I guess they don’t care if you drink and drive here), and there are numerous pull-offs for photographs. It generally takes about an hour to complete the tour, though you’re welcome to take as long as you wish. Because this is a popular destination, avoid weekends and come early in the morning. I guess my only quibble is that it’s expensive for families. My advice is to make it at least a two-hour experience or longer, stopping along the way, perhaps, for a picnic of sandwiches to feast your eyes on the scenery (you’ll have to eat in your cart, as there are no benches or picnic tables along the way).
If you prefer to walk (which costs the same), you’ll have to join a guided tour, which takes about one hour and 45 minutes (no sandals or flipflops allowed; participants must be at 16 years old). In any case, the adventure starts at the Top of the Rock Welcome Center. While here, you might also want to see the Ancient Ozarks Natural History Museum (combination tickets to both Lost Canyon and the museum are $32 for adults and $15 for children, plus tax).