Our last jaunt while in the state of Missouri was to Dogwood Canyon Nature Park. We opted for the tram tour which was a bit expensive.  I’d later find out it was a trailer toted by a decked out, camo-wrapped Toyota Sequoia that had me wanting a new ride and also probably explained the cost of the tour itself.

But it was well worth it. The park was land purchased by the creator of Bass Pro Shop long ago. The story behind it is really cool, but I’m not going to ruin it for the readers who might actually go there some day.  If you’re near there, make the effort.

I didn’t know what to expect as we approached, but the grand entrance was certainly something to behold. Built in the same vision as Bass Pro Shop clearly, the giant mill turning ever so slowly through the pond below, scooping up water and pouring it out on the other side, there were fish wading the currents and people pouring in through the entrance. 
Our enticement to Emerson to get her excited was that we were going to see bison. She loves bison a.k.a. buffalo from her book at home. And for some reason, she started calling them “bis-ah-min” on the way to the canyon.

Inside the building was a smallish museum, a restaurant, a gift shop. Outside was a tree house built by those tree house builders on TV, a giant waterfall, and nature trails. Oh so much nature.

The tour guide was cracking jokes and handing out Bass Pro blankets as it was a little chilly on the metal benches in parallel rows down the trailer. I think the best joke was about the “man-eating buffalo repellent” that was on the ticket, so you better hold onto those.

We started the 2-hour tour with little expectations and all of us were shocked as we traveled the canyon floor crossing over stream after stream stocked full of rainbow trout, landmarks, caves, waterfalls, and sheer beauty all around us.

We stopped to smell the flowers and the tour guide gave one to Emerson.

Up, up and up we went as we climbed the mountains of southern Missouri and on into Arkansas. Crossing the state line, we entered into a wildlife preserve where we were greeted by herds of animals. The first were the white tail deer.  Emerson was so excited.

“Deer!” she squealed. Then, “where’s bis-ah-min?” she repeated over and over and over.

We approached our first herd after the white tails scampered away. Elk.

And they didn’t just keep their distance. When we crossed the state line, our guide grabbed two kiddos to help fill up the feed buckets. And we fed them. Right next to the trailers.

Lots of warnings came flying out about not touching the giant wild beasts. You know. Horns and all. Or were these antlers? He explained the difference, but I won’t spoil that one for you either.

Next our crew came up to the longhorns. And dang. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen these guys quite this big. Bevo would have been jealous.

And finally. The bis-ah-min. Huffing and puffing they came right up to us. Fascination covered Emerson’s countenance. It was rewarding to say the least. Truly impressive to see these creatures eye to eye.

The end of the journey was a little quick. We stopped at a place where there are some of the only golden trout in North America. They look like coy or gold fish but they’re the real deal.

And not long after that, our daughter was out. So we did this because we’re awesome parents.

Lunch at the restaurant and she woke up after sleeping in my arms for a good 30 minutes. So what does she want to do?

Pet the bear!  Don’t worry it was stuffed.

And that’s Dogwood Canyon Nature Park.  Off to the weigh in.



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