In 1906, diamonds were found at the county seat of Pike County, Arkansas, United States, on a local farm, in the city of Murfreesboro. A diamond-bearing volcanic formation, now belonging to the state of Arkansas, Crater of Diamonds State Park, was eventually opened to the public, in 1972, when the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism purchased the site. Diamonds are continuously being discovered in this state park in Murfreesboro, Arkansas. If you’re making plans to visit this state park, you can rent or purchase your equipment and receive a helpful introduction to diamond searching at the Diamond Discovery Center. You will also enjoy the exhibit hall and the gift shop, while you are there. An admission fee is charged for gem-hunting. This state park has campsites for recreational vehicles with a dump station, and for tents with and without hook-ups, a bathhouse with restrooms, hot showers, cafe, wildlife observation blind, an enclosed pavilion with air-conditioning, playground, interpretive programs, hiking trails, laundry, and an amphitheater.
- Historic Mills
- Antiques & Flea Markets
- Golf Courses
- Miniature Golf
- Horseback Riding
- Bull Shoals Dam & Visitor Center
- Top O’ the Ozarks Tower
- Bull Shoals Caverns & Mountain Village 1890
- Trout Farms & Hatcheries
- Laura Ingalls Wilder House
- Theme Parks
- Blanchard Springs Caverns
- Outlet Malls
- A-list Fine Dining Restaurants
- Live Entertainment
- 18- Hole Championship Golf
- Bass Pro Shop
- A-list Dining Restaurants
- Boutiques for inexpensive gifts for men
- First Friday Art Walk, Downtown
- Minor League Baseball
- Wonders of Wildlife Museum, Springfield MO
- Bass Pro Shop
- Shepherd of the Hills
- Blanchard Springs Caverns
- Antique Stores & Shopping Malls
- James A. Gaston Center
- Scuba Diving
- Show Boat Dinner Tours
- White Water (Water Park)
- Silver Dollar City (a theme park)
- Dickerson Park Zoo
- Country Music Shows
- Fish Hatchery at the base of Table Rock Dam
- Top O’ the Ozarks Tower
- Marvel Cave
- IMAX Theater
- Horseback Riding
It’s hard to appreciate just how vast the Ozark Mountains are because, unlike the Rockies, they have flat horizon lines instead of jagged, towering peaks. As you drive through our area you will encounter many open vistas like this one. We are in the actual Ozark Mountains, not in the foothills. There are many paved, well maintained roads that make excellent driving tours.
Dogwoods & Red Buds
Many people are not aware that Ozark foliage displays are almost as spectacular as northern foliage. With over 200 tree species growing in the Ozarks the chances for a colorful fall display are very good. Most years the foliage display peeks the last few days of October or the first week of November. This time of year is also when several species of wildflowers also bloom, which is not the case in more northern regions. The first blossoms appearing each spring are those of the red bud tree. About two weeks later the dogwoods bloom. When conditions are right both trees can bloom at the same time. Dogwoods usually blossom around the last week of April to the first week of May. Drive down any back road and you’ll find the dogwood blooms. When you are planning your vacation to Branson, Missouri for yourself and your family, remember to consider care for your pets while you are away.
Blooming from March through November, white, blue, red, orange, purple, and many shades in between, wildflowers can be found everywhere. Beside the road, beside the lake and rivers, in the fields, and in the forest, there’s no shortage of native color. In addition the bloom colors change about every three weeks as different species blossom. All the blooms attract an incredible number of colorful butterflies.
Like the mammal populations, the bird life is also very diverse in the Ozarks. Birds of prey include several owl and hawk species, and bald eagles winter in the area. Humming birds are very common; so are a multitude of song and water birds. You’ll spot birds of all kinds while driving down the road, canoeing, or watching the shoreline. Hawks can be spotted sitting in trees and power lines along the roads. Owls show up right at dusk just minutes before it’s too dark to see. Song birds are most visible at first daylight through sunrise. Water birds are active in the evenings as well as early morning.
The Ozark Mountains support one of the most diverse and well-populated mammal populations in America. From the black bear down to the tiny shrew, many different animal species make their home in our area; foxes, coyotes, bobcats, mink, otter, rabbits, ferrets, several squirrel species, and many more can be seen on a regular basis with a little planning. Deer, squirrels, wild turkey, and many other animals frequent resort yards. Still others can be seen along the lake shores and along back roads in the dawn and dusk periods of each day.
Kids & Critters
There are several species of turtles living in the Ozarks and you’ll see them in the water as well as on land. The box turtles live by consuming plants and vegetables. In addition to turtle-catching, children spend hours chasing the harmless little lizards living around rocks and logs. The fast-running lizards present a considerable challenge to children trying to catch them. It’s not unusual for the kids to spend hours attempting to corral one. The numerous butterflies in the area also make great chasing and we’ve seen children collect whole sets while vacationing.
A maze of coves, creek arms, and peninsulas make up the Bull Shoals Lake shoreline. There can be hundreds of boats on the water but you see only a few of them because of the broken shorelines. Lake maps are sold in several area facilities that will help you find just the right spot to beach a houseboat, fish, hunt, and more. Water skiing, wave boarding, tubing, fishing, scuba diving, swimming, wave running, exploring, are all popular water sports. Marinas and resort rent boats and other water sport equipment. The water is warm from about the middle of May through the middle of September. You can always find smooth water in the coves even on windy days. There are few large boats making uncomfortable wakes in this area of Bull Shoals. All the land surrounding Bull Shoals Lake is public property owned by the Federal government. You can hike, fish, hunt, and otherwise enjoy the
lake shore. With almost 1,000 miles of shore line, there are plenty of places to go. Many people find a private spot by boat then anchor or beach to swim, fish, camp, and hike.
Bull Shoals Lake is a great place to go scuba diving, the water is very clear (visibility is usually more than 10 feet which is very uncommon for a lake). There are several dive shops on the lake and many different artifacts have been sunk on the lake for scuba divers and skin divers to enjoy including a school bus, and an old WWII boat.
Bald Eagle Viewing
Many people are unaware that Missouri has one of the largest bald eagle migrations in America. The many lakes and wetland areas in Missouri, along with the large rivers, offers enough plentiful food and fresh water for thousands of eagles take up residence during their annual migration southward. The great birds leave their nesting ranges in the Great Lakes region and Canada. During the winter, Missouri’s lakes and rivers offer ideal hunting conditions for the magnificent bird.
To view the flying and feeding eagles, come early in the morning and look for the bald eagles perched in large trees along the water’s edge. The following areas are hot spots for viewing:
- Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area, off Route K, southwest of Columbia
- Lake of the Ozarks, Bagnell Dam Access, east of Bagnell
- Lock and Dam 24 in Clarksville
- Lock and Dam 25, east of Winfield
- Mingo National Wildlife Refuge, northwest of Puxico
- Riverlands Environmental Demonstration Area, West Alton
- Schell-Osage Conservation Area, north of El Dorado Springs
- Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge, south of Mound City
- Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge, south of Sumner
- Table Rock Lake, southwest of Branson
- Truman Reservoir, west of Warsaw
Bald Eagle in Symbolism
One of the three symbols connected with the astrological sign Scorpio; the scorpion, the eagle and the phoenix; the eagle has probing eyes that give the predator the ability to strike at a moment’s notice. But unlike the scorpion, the eagle is free to soar above the earth to see what others may not see.
The bald eagle is the official emblem of the USA. It is used on coins, money, buildings, and much more. It serves many different purposes in America, but it has also served throughout history as well. In a range of unique cultures, the bald eagle may be the link between the gods and man.
Bald Eagle Facts
- Name: The term “bald” is a bit confusing. It refers to the Old English word “balde”—meaning white—rather than without feathers. The scientific name, Haliaeetus leucocephalus, means white-headed sea eagle.
- Eyesight: Eagle vision is five to six times sharper than a human’s. The prominent brow shades the eye for keener vision.
- Beak: The eagle’s hooked beak is used for tearing flesh.
- Size: One of the largest birds of prey in the world, bald eagles have a 6 1/2- to 8-foot wingspan and are 3 to 3 1/2 feet tall, weighing 8 to 15 pounds. In many birds of prey, the female is larger than the male. However, unless birds are perched next to each other, sexes cannot be told apart.
- Foods: Fish compose 60 to 90 percent of the bald eagle diet, most of which is scavenged. Eagles usually locate prey by soaring or watching from a high perch. Piracy is another way eagles get food. If one bird makes a prize catch, others often will try to take the food away. Prey animals weigh from 3 to 5 pounds, at most. An eagle would have difficulty carrying anything even one-half its own weight, making the myth of eagles carrying off human babies or calves sound absurd.
Young: Two, and sometimes three, white eggs are laid each year in March or April. Both parents incubate the eggs for 34 to 40 days. By 10 to 11 weeks of age, eagles are feathered, nearly full grown and able to fly from the nest.
- Speed: Eagles fly 20 to 40 miles per hour and can reach speeds of more than 100 miles per hour while diving.
- Talons: Powerful feet with razor-sharp, 2-inch talons are used to take prey.
Age: Bald eagles have lived up to 50 years in captivity. Their life expectancy in the wild may be 15 to 25 years.
- Nests: Nests usually are built in the top of a large tree. Each year in January and February, the pair adds to the nest. A bald eagle nest can become the largest of any North American bird. The national record is 20 feet deep and 10 feet wide, weighing 2 tons! In Missouri, however, nests average about 5 feet wide and 3 feet deep.
Mortality rate: On average, biologists estimate that there is a 40 to 50 percent mortality rate for bald eagles during their first year after leaving the nest, a 10 percent mortality rate the second year and 5 percent per year from the third year on.
- Color: The distinctive white head and tail mark an adult—a sexually mature bird that is at least 4 to 5 years old. Younger birds’ plumage varies from solid, dark brown to mottled brown and white. Males and females are colored alike.
- Range: Bald eagles historically occurred throughout North America. The largest natural area breeding populations are in Alaska and Canada, but there are significant bald eagle populations in the Great Lakes states, Florida, the Pacific Northwest, the Greater Yellowstone area, and the Chesapeake Bay region.