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Our rolling hills, verdant woodlands, sparkling streams and miles of pristine lakes make the Ozarks a giant playground for outdoor adventure. Bike. Hike. Swim. Boat. Fish. Hunt. Waterski. Zip-line over the forest from the top of an Ozarks mountain. Ride the open roads on your motorcycle. Or simply soak up the sun in one of our many city parks with your favorite furry friend. Adventure is only a short drive away.

The League of American Bicyclists voted Springfield a Bicycle Friendly Community, thanks in part to the City’s more than 75 miles of greenways. For those who love to travel by pedal power, Springfield offers lots of ways to get around town or explore the great outdoors on two wheels.

  • Residents and guests of all ages, abilities and interests get free nonmotorized access to beautiful trails including the Galloway Creek Greenway in Southeast Springfield and South Creek Greenway, which runs east to west through the heart of the city.
  • Missouri’s second longest rail trail, the Frisco Highline Trail, connects Springfield to Bolivar across 35 miles. Bicyclists, walkers and runners experience the wildlife, small towns, unique eateries and other points of interest that dot this scenic trail.
  • If mountain biking is more your speed, the Sac River Trails in northwest Springfield, offering a view of the beautiful Sac River along the way. There’s also a picnic pavilion and pump track.
  • Mountain bikers can also experience climbing, rock features and lots of unique stunts along 14 miles of singletrack at Two Rivers Bike Park—a 400-acre park near the confluence of the James and Finley Rivers.
  • Want to bike across Missouri? You can on the Katy Trail, the longest developed rail trail in the United States. It runs 240 miles along the former Missouri-Kansas-Texas railroad and includes a section of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail.
  • The future of natural surface trails in the Springfield area is also looking bright. The Dirt 66 Master Plan seeks to connect many of the trails listed above with the Fellows Lake Trails to create a circuit that’s more than 60 miles long. 

  • The Ozarks are also home to annual MTB races like the annual Singletrack Mind Festival hosted by Trailspring and Round and Round the Underground, a short-course subterranean fundraiser that began in 2021. 

The Springfield region is one of the best places on earth to get up close and personal with nature. Hiking, camping and caving offer great views and unforgettable experiences, whether you prefer spectacular bluffs, secluded waterfalls or just the thrill of adventure.

  • Explore over 3 miles of hiking trails at the Springfield Conservation Nature Center, where you’ll encounter 180 bird species. The center is also home to deer, turkey, mink, muskrat, reptiles and amphibians—all within Springfield city limits!
  • Hike more than 750 miles of trails in the Mark Twain National Forest, which includes sections of the Ozark Trail. Experience semi-primitive or wilderness campgrounds for a little peaceful solitude under the breathtaking forest canopy.
  • Hiking and camping enthusiasts will revel in the 1.2 million acre Ozark National Forest in Northern Arkansas. Visit the underground wonder at Blanchard Springs Caverns or climb to the highest peak in Arkansas at Mount Magazine.
  • In addition to its many canoeing and floating opportunities, the Buffalo National River area includes a growing network of hiking trails and campground options ranging from primitive to developed.
  • For hikers looking for a challenge, the Ozark Highlands Trail offers nearly 270 miles of mountainous terrain, hardwood forest and magnificent rock outcroppings, where you’ll pass through some of the most remote areas of the Ozark National Forest.
  • Popular rock climbing destination Sam’s Throne in north central Arkansas has something for everyone from beginner to advanced, with many great short bouldering pitches and most routes ideal for top roping.

Springfield offers a vibrant variety of natural escapes. With a dedicated sales tax for parks and trails, our city is nationally recognized by Sports Illustrated for our Parks Board and community commitment to recreation. Historic parks offer fantastic settings to unwind with picnics, playgrounds, pools or just a stroll through the trees. Our more than 100 city parks and recreational sites provide an assortment of experiences with new options including the marquee Jordan Valley Park in the heart of downtown, Wilson-Rutledge Farm Park and Cruse Dog Park.

  • Head out of town just a bit, and you’ll find state parks like Busiek, Roaring River, Ha Ha Tonka and Table Rock. Each is free to the public for a variety of activities, from fishing and hiking to explorations of historic structures and the great outdoors. Privately owned Dogwood Canyon lets you explore nature at your own pace and is a favorite among locals, especially when the fall colors begin to pop.
  • National forests and parks bring even greater opportunities to enjoy the natural surroundings. Find secluded spots in the Mark Twain and Ozarks National Forests or engage in history with a visit to Wilson’s Creek and Pea Ridge National Battlefields. Hike and camp to your heart’s content around the Buffalo National River or the Ozark National Scenic Riverways or explore some of the best floating rivers in the country preserved there.

Whether it’s fly fishing along clear, spring-fed streams or catching trout in one of many popular fishing holes, the Springfield region is a true fishing paradise. Here are just three of the many favorite fishing spots that lure anglers from near and far:

  • Cast your line for rainbow trout along a spring branch that gushes 100 million gallons of clear, cool water every day at Bennett Spring State Park, surrounded by over 3,200 acres of natural Ozarks beauty.
  • Spanning nearly 1,400 square miles across the Ozarks in Southwest Missouri and Northwest Arkansas, the North Fork of the White River is a great place to catch smallmouth bass, rainbow trout and brown trout.
  • A large variety of species await your hook at Table Rock Lake, with a large stock of largemouth, smallmouth, spotted and white bass; channel and flathead catfish; and crappie, walleye, bluegill, goggle-eye and paddlefish.

Hunting opportunities abound with deer and turkey seasons leading the way each fall. A nationally recognized Department of Conservation manages a variety of long hunting seasons for waterfowl and a diversity of wildlife. And with Bass Pro Shops stores in Springfield and Branson, you’ll always have the latest gear close at hand.

Thrill-seekers take heart—the Ozarks will amaze you with an abundance of possibilities.

  • Just two hours to our south, the Boston Mountains in northern Arkansas contain high-quality sandstone climbing areas like Sam’s Throne or Cave Creek where you can set up top-ropes over routes ranging from 5.6 to 5.13.
  • With Missouri known as “The Cave State,” amazing sights lie just under your feet. Commercial caves like Fantastic Caverns and Smallin Cave offer pathway tours or off-trail wild cave tours where you can really explore these natural geologic wonders. Join a speleology club and gain access to all sorts of unique caving opportunities.
  • Water and adventure go hand in hand here. When a solid rain hits the watershed, streams can become a whitewater playground, and the promise of kayaking and adventure canoeing bring out the paddlers in droves.
  • Summertime on the lakes brings wake boarders and water skiers out to test their skills.
  • And you don’t have to be in the tropics to scuba dive. Keep your diving skills sharp exploring pristine area lakes or head to Bonne Terre Mine where visibility is over 100 feet and the diving tours are listed by National Geographic as one of America’s Top 10 Greatest Adventures.
  • If you prefer being high and dry, try flying above the trees on one of the ziplines around Branson. Each offers a variety of tours, and Zipline USA puts you 350 feet off the valley floor, flying 3,250 feet through the forest—the longest in the United States.
  • BMX biking fanatics will be psyched to know that the Spokes BMX Raceway in west Springfield regularly hosts races that draw local entrants as well as hundreds from several surrounding states. The track hosted the South Central Gold Finals in 2021. 

If you’re more of a water lover who prefers to paddle your way down scenic waterways, the Ozarks will feel like utopia. One thing we have plenty of is meandering rivers and streams suitable for float trips. So load up your canoe or kayak and hit these awesome spots to feed your appetite for the outdoors. 

  • James River. Paddle the pretty James River Water Trail between the Joe Crighton access and the Lake Springfield boathouse, where you can rent canoes, kayaks and paddleboards. South of Springfield, the James continues through Christian and Stone counties. There’s also the nearby Finley, a James River tributary.
  • Beaver Creek. An hour’s drive through beautiful rolling hills brings you to Bradleyville, a tiny town with a big stretch of spring-fed floatable water. Paddle 5 miles down from the bridge in Bradleyville for a nice, long float or take more time from Brownbranch when water is higher.
  • Current & Jacks Fork Rivers. For wilderness floating through national parkland, head for the Current River and its largest tributary, the Jacks Fork. Tall bluffs, wooded shores, caves, and clear blue springs showcase Missouri’s natural beauty in the designated Ozark National Scenic Riverways.
  • Niangua River. The Niangua flows through Bennett Spring State Park, a great spot for anglers and campers. About an hour from Springfield, sections of this river attract Saturday social crowds; enjoy a more serene float on upriver areas during the week. Multiple outfitters and the state park can help with rentals.
  • North Fork of the White River. The North Fork flows through undeveloped land and along private properties and vacation rentals. Less than two hours from Springfield, this river offers day floats with plenty of options for staying overnight.
  • Eleven Point River. Float year-round on the eye-catching Eleven Point when you put in below Greer Spring, Missouri’s second-largest spring. Upper areas are floatable during seasons with more rain.
  • Elk River & Big Sugar Creek. About two hours away in western Missouri, the Elk River offers a laid-back experience for novice and experienced floaters. The river flows along high bluffs and has plenty of gravel bars. Like the Niangua, summer Saturdays are crowded and social.
  • Big Piney & Gasconade Rivers. The Big Piney near Licking is a slow and easy float that’s perfect for anglers, families and beginners. It flows into the Gasconade River, one of the most crooked rivers in the world, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation.
  • Buffalo National River. About two hours from Springfield in Arkansas, the Buffalo National River in Arkansas flows freely for about 135 miles. A wonderful upper stretch is noted for breathtaking bluffs, lush foliage and fun fast water between the low-water bridge in Ponca and Kyles Landing.