Top of the Rock: Branson’s Authentic View

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top of the rock, meeting planning

Local history, traditions and the timeless landscapes of the Ozark Mountains are forefront at Top of the Rock, Big Cedar Lodge’s new clifftop outpost. Overlooking 43,000-acre Table Rock Lake at the highest point in Taney, Missouri, Top of the Rock integrates longstanding connections between the Ozarks and its early inhabitants through historic meeting spaces, original art, cultural artifacts and other relics of bygone eras—just 10 miles from Branson.

A winding, two-and-a-half mile ride along the Lost Canyon Cave & Nature Trail, with its waterfalls, natural rock formations, covered Amish bridge and cave bar, gently ascends to the summit, where an array of meeting spaces, dining options and activities await groups. The End of the Trail All-American Wine Cellar splinters off into a wine tasting bar, whiskey, cognac and cigar rooms and an elegantly rustic banquet space with its rounded ceiling and hand-hewn beams reminiscent of the inside of a wine barrel. Towering stone fire places and an infinity pool overlooking Table Rock Lake create a cozy atmosphere just outside. Courtney Munday, conference service manager, says traces of local history and culture can be found just about everywhere including banquet menus, “which feature recipes passed down generation to generation by our founder’s family.”

A natural history museum, the latest addition to Top of the Rock, reveals life in the Ozarks as it was from 12,000 years ago to the Civil War era, housing distinct Native American and ancient animal exhibits. A world-class golf experience features a Jack Nicklaus signature course, Tom Watson’s 70,000-sf putting complex and an Arnold Palmer-designed practice facility.

Palmer’s influence also takes shape in Arnie’s Barn, a 150-year-old barn-turned-restaurant with 46’ timbers—including the now extinct American chestnut. Groups can also meet in a Civil War era cabin repurposed by local Ozarks Amish craftsmen; at Worman House, the refurbished retreat of a 1920s railroad mogul, or on Buffalo Bar’s outdoor patio, with views of Table Rock Lake.

Down below, Big Cedar Lodge offers 246 rooms spread over lodges, cottages and cabins. One of its “wow” venues occurs during a private dinner or sunset cruise aboard Lady Liberty, the resort’s 65’ luxury yacht, which can be arranged for groups of up to 45 people. If teambuilding is on the agenda, true-to-locale activities such as horseback cattle drives followed by chuckwagon dinners, fishing tournaments, painting and wine experiences, wakeboarding and scenic carriage rides fit the bill. Groups can also meet in one of 10,000-acre Dogwood Canyon Nature Park’s outdoor venues, like the Creekside Pavilion, an open-air facility with a double stone fireplace and a 22’ vaulted ceiling, or The Glory Hole, with its emerald pool fed by a natural waterfall; both complement more than 20,000 sf of meeting space spread over 20 meeting venues.

“Our connection to nature anchors our group activities,” Munday adds, “whether bass fishing on Table Rock Lake, golfing alongside North American bison that roam the Buffalo Ridge Spring golf course or hikes on the Lost Canyon Cave & Nature Trail.”

The latest addition to Big Cedar Lodge is Cedar Creek Spa, an 18,000-sf destination spa with 11 treatment rooms. Stone walls and floors are accented by hand-hewn timber ceilings, handcrafted stained glass accents and antique-style chandeliers. Here, groups can soak in an indoor grotto pool by candlelight, experience fireside massages or the Ozarks Rain Experience Vichy shower treatment.

Coming to the resort later this year is Bass Pro Shops’ 1,200-acre Outdoor Academy, which will offer hands-on sport shooting instruction, archery and other outdoorsman activities.

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