Getting Back To Nature
Camping is an increasingly popular way to vacation and, in Ozark County, vacationers are getting back to nature at public and private campgrounds and picnic areas that allow them to enjoy their leisure time to the fullest. Most campgrounds are located around the two major lakes and along the two primary float streams. On Bull Shoals Lake, the Army Corps of Engineers operates several camping and recreation areas in the county including Theodosia Park, located just off Hwy. 160 where the bridge crosses the lake; and Pontiac Park, which is accessed via Route W off Hwy. 5 south Gainesville. Both park are full services facilities. Most campsites have electricity. At each park, there is a pavilion that is available on a first-come, first-served basis. These can be reserved for a nominal fee with advanced notice. The parks include restrooms, drinking water, picnic shelters, protected swimming areas, boat launch ramps and sanitary septic disposal. Fees, which are very reasonable, are charged for camping from the first of April through October. The fee is slightly higher for campsites with electricity. Full service marinas offer: boats sales and rentals, motor sales and rentals, and fuel sales. Plus, a restaurant can be found adjoining each of these parks. At Theodosia, cabin rentals are also available, and at Pontiac, the marina has houseboats for rent.
On Lake Norfork, the Corps operates two parks. The Tecumseh Park is located just off Hwy. 160 where the bridge crosses the lake. It offers seven campsites, restrooms, drinking water, picnic shelters and a changing shelter. Boats can be launched into the lake, since the park is located where the North Fork River and Bryant Creek empty into the Norfork Lake. It is also a popular destination for canoeists on a float trip. Food and fuel are available nearby.
Udall Park is located at the end of Route O out of Bakersfield on an arm of the lake. It offers seven campsites, restrooms, a boat launch and access to the lake. Camping is free. Nearby, a marina provides boat stall rental, boat and motor sales, fuel and boat and motor repairs. Lodging is also available through the marina.
Several of the privately-owned lake resorts operate campgrounds and RV parks, greatly expanding the number of camping facilities available to vacationers.
Some of the most spectacular scenery in Ozark County is found along its streams. Campsites range from primitive to full service. The National Forest Service operates the North Fork Recreation Area, more commonly called Hammond Camp, in the Mark Twain National Forest. It is located east of Dora off Route CC where it crosses the North Fork River. This beautifully wooded area offers several campsites, picnic sites, restrooms, drinking water and river access for launching canoes. A reasonable fee is charged. Several nature trails originate in the recreation area. The Blue Spring Trail leads to the Blue Spring, an icy fountain that emerges in the river and a popular swimming spot. Ridge-Top Trail takes the hiker along the ridges overlooking the river.
Two wilderness areas have been designated near the area. The Devil’s Backbone and the Stream Mill Hollow areas are off limits to vehicular traffic but offer 11 miles of designated trails for horseback riding and hiking. Both are also popular hunting areas. Several other areas along the float streams provide river access, parking areas, campsites, restroom facilities and nature walk. One of these is found in the area around Althea Springs where Route H crosses the North Fork and another at Blair Bridge.
There are several very fine private campgrounds operating on the North Fork River and Bryant Creek by the firms that rent canoes. Primitive Camping is allowed in the Caney Mountain Conservation Area, along with hiking, horseback riding or driving through some of the most beautiful country in the Ozarks.
In the western end of Ozark County, the U.S. Forest Service manages the Glade Top Trail area, a unique public park with a very panoramic views, especially beautiful in the Spring and Fall. As you can see, Mother Nature has been kind to Ozark County, blessing us with some of her most wonderful and pleasant sites.