The Lake of the Ozarks isn’t well known for sailing due to the large amount of powerboats and variable winds, but on the right day, there’s nothing like it.

1. Camping 

While Lake of the Ozarks is known more for its second home mansions and condominiums, it can also be a rustic retreat if you know where to look. Several great private campgrounds dot the area, on the water or off.

Lake of the Ozarks State Park also offers a variety of types of camping. Year-round overnight accommodations include family-friendly or backcountry campsites, outpost cabins and even yurts.

Campers can easily enjoy all the activities offered at the park from swim beaches, fishing, lake boat access, mountain biking and hiking trails and a small rock climbing spot.

2. Paddle time

Whether you canoe, kayak or stand up on a paddle board, the water is always calling to you.

We recommend hitting the quieter parts of the lake for these excursions. The aquatic trail along the undeveloped shoreline of Lake of the Ozarks State Park runs roughly eight miles.

The Big Niangua River Trail starts at a low water crossing known as “Whistle Bridge” located at the junction of Whistle Rd. and Tunnel Dam Rd. near Edith off Route U. The trail goes 13.3 miles downriver to Ha Ha Tonka State Park in Camdenton. Smaller sections can be traversed for those who prefer a shorter paddle.

There are multiple natural, historic and geological points of interest marked along this water trail. There are also various paddle events held on the lake with special themes, and Sugarloaf Winery offers kayak rentals to visit a nearby lake cave.

3. Just a walk away

We’re headed back to our state parks for number three on our list. Some of the Lake of the Ozarks State Park’s best trails include 0.8-mile Bluestem Knoll nature trail, one-mile Coakley Hollow, 1.25-mile Fawn’s Ridge, 2.5 Hidden Springs, 1.5-mile Lake Trail, 1.5-mile Lakeview Bend, 2-mile Rocky Top and 1-mile White Oak trails which are all loops.

There are lengths and difficulty levels for everyone. Shady Ridge Trail is a one-way one-mile trail known for its great views of the lake. A 13.5-mile loop consisting of north and south loops, The Trails of Four Winds is the longest trail in the park. Ha Ha Tonka State Park in the Camdenton area also has a wide variety of hiking trails.

The walk up and around the landmark castle ruins and the hike to Ha Ha Tonka spring are the most popular, but a great less-traveled trail here is Devil’s Kitchen. This natural surface loop trail is special for the steep concave bluff wall known as the Devil’s Promenade. For those afraid of heights, beware. Hikers must step across a gap in the surface of the trail which is fairly high up at this spot.  

4. A different view

Get a different perspective of the Lake of the Ozarks with a bird’s eye view. Lake Ozark Helicopters offers a tour for every budget from the five-mile Shorty Hop to the Ultimate Tour.

Depending on which one you select, these rides go by places like Bagnell Dam, Million Dollar Row, Grand Glaize Bridge, Party Cove, our state parks and much more. Air Lake Aviation in Camdenton also offers scenic flights over the lake.

Their 30-minute air tour covers most of the lake, traveling from the Ha Ha Tonka castle ruins to Bagnell Dam. Take your photos on the flight or purchase copies of those they take with their digital camera. Alternatively, head underground for a different type of adventure. Bridal Cave is offering tours by lantern-light this summer with specially-researched local history sure to teach and entertain. 

5. Fore!

The sport of kings - you either love it or you just don’t get it. For those golfers out there, Lake of the Ozarks is a paradise. A total of 12 breathtaking, yet difficult, courses designed by some of the sport’s most distinguished legends comprise the Lake of the Ozarks Golf Trail.

From Jack Nicklaus to Arnold Palmer designs, these spectacular courses set in the backdrop of the lake and rolling hills offer some of the most beautiful holes in Missouri, and some would say even all of golf.

The trail spans from Eldon to Camdenton, from Lake Ozark to Gravois Mills and from Osage Beach to Linn Creek.

6. Zippity Do Dah

A zip line ride through the treetops makes for a breathtaking experience. Here in the Lake area, Zippy’s Ziplines at Turtle Hill Eco-Park offers an adrenaline rush with amazing views of the Lake of the Ozarks.

Their three lines offer something for everyone including an introductory 300-foot line accessed via a 40-foot suspension bridge (the Soft Shell See Saw), a 600-foot line through the woods (the Snapper) and even a handicap-friendly line which travels 700 feet from a ground-level platform out to a point where you can see Bagnell Dam three miles away (the Red Eared Slider).

The prices include use of Eco-Park as well which has picnic facilities, fire pits, swings, washers and other recreational activities if you want to make a day of it. On the other end of the lake in the Roach area, Windermere Baptist Conference Center offers The Edge challenge course. In addition to zip lines, they have climbing walls, cargo net climbing and other acrobatic obstacles sure to get the blood pumping.

Other adventurous recreational activities at Windermere include The Forest, a wilderness paint ball experience, and The Cave, a tour of a cave on the grounds. There is a do-it-yourself tour of the first 350 feet as well as a more adventurous Beyond the Gate tour where you’ll go further into the cave - in places crawling on your hands and knees - to see beautiful cave formations and waterfalls in the dome rooms depending on the weather.

7. Sailing two ways 

The Lake of the Ozarks isn’t well known for sailing due to the large amount of powerboats and variable winds, but on the right day, there’s nothing like it.

If you don’t have your own sailboat, Ozark Yacht Club offers rentals for half-day, full-day and three-day excursions. Their fleet ranges from a 39-foot racer-cruiser with cabins, full galley and diesel engine back-up to eight-foot mono-sail dinghys and more in between depending on the number of sailors and skill levels. Don’t know how? Not to worry.

OYC also has a sailing school. Be prepared to spend some bucks on this one, but it could be well worth it when you feel the special roar of wind through your hair. Speaking of sailing ... parasailing is another activity that can make you like you fill a quiet rush as you soar high above the water.

Leave behind the chaos and noise of life on earth for a fresh perspective on the lake. Paradise Parasail at Mike Fink’s Marina next to Bagnell Dam and Lake Ozark Parasail at Bridgeport Marina at the 19 mile marker offer a great experience. This is an adventure for all - fun for the family or a group of friends.