Table Rock Dam

Table Rock Dam, most famous for creating Missouri’s biggest man-made reservoir, Table Rock Lake, is a stunning feat of architecture in its own right.

With plenty to see and do around Table Rock Dam, visitors can see why this Ozark hot spot catches more attention and tourists annually. The multiple parks, trails, and nearby recreational facilities make Table Rock a must-see destination.

Everything you Ever Wanted to Know about Table Rock Dam 

Table Rock Dam is located on the White River in southern Missouri, southwest of Branson, while Table Rock Lake extends 79 miles along the White River, and borders the towns of Branson, Hollister, Shell Knob, and Cape Fair.

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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built Table Rock Dam in the late 1950s to control floods and generate hydroelectric power. The dam's construction, which cost $65 million and only took four years, brought a new revival to the Ozarks. The dam created the 43,100-acre Table Rock Lake with a shoreline of nearly 800 miles and a depth of 220 feet, making the lake the deepest manufactured lake in the state.

Photo Alert: There are several areas around the dam to get great Instagram-worthy shots. Just across the road from the visitor center is a parking area with an incredible view of the dam and lake.

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With the dam’s completion, significant changes came to the city of Branson. The dam split the White River into two lakes. The larger warm-watered recreational Table Rock Lake became a major area attraction, drawing tourists from all over the country.

The dam also created a second lake, Lake Taneycomo, a much colder body of water that was ideal for trout fishing. The Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery releases both rainbow and brown trout into the lake.

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On May 30, 2020, the Little Rock District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened gates three, five, seven, and nine at the Table Rock Dam. Each gate was opened only one foot each, yet released 5,500 cubic feet of water per second, around 41,142.86 gallons.

Fun Fact: Sometimes, when the lake holds too much water, the engineers open all of the ten gates at Table Rock.

Table Rock Dam Highlights

Tours: For a more intimate look at the Table Rock Dam, visitors can take one of the guided walking dam tours offered daily from March through October and from Thursday through Sunday in November and December.

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Fun Fact: Don’t buy into the myth that there are alligators in Table Rock Lake. The Missouri Department of Conservation has discounted this Facebook hoax, claiming that it released alligators into the lake. Alligators are not native to Missouri; however, rare sightings have been reported.

Driving Tour: Visitors can drive across one of the many bridges that cross Table Rock Dam. There are 10 existing bridges built in the 1950s and 1960s over Table Rock Lake; some of the most traveled include the Long Creek Bridge, the Kimberling City Bridge, and the Cape Fair Bridge. The Historic Route 86 Bridge is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. You can learn more about these architecturally amazing structures by visiting the Dewey Short Visitors Center.

Pro Tip: Most people fish near Table Rock State Park, but some locals say the best fishing is right by the dam!

Table Rock Lake

Often compared to Lake of the Ozarks, Table Rock is less crowded and much prettier than its predecessor. In Taney County, Missouri, Table Rock Lake is best known for its world-class fishing, water sports, boating, and swimming.

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The lake is renowned particularly for its bass fishing. Table Rock contains 43,000 acres of water along miles of tree-lined shores, beaches, and a marina. It is approximately 220-feet deep at its deepest point.

The lake is also an accessible site for scuba divers. The underwater village Oasis is a popular technical dive for scuba divers and currently rests under 100 feet, near the bottom of Table Rock Lake.

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Boating and water skiing are both in-demand lake activities, and the most recent testing showed that it is safe and clean for swimming and fishing. There is a 30 mile per hour speed limit for boats from sunset to sunrise.

Fun Fact: The paddlefish is the biggest fish in the lake, hitting the state record with a weight of 140 pounds, 9 ounces.

Other Area Attractions

Table Rock State Park: The area's state park, located in Taney County and Stone County on Table Rock Lake, consists of 356-acres and includes a marina, campground, and multiple trails for hiking and bicycling.

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Table Rock Lakeshore Trail: This paved pathway trail is a 4.4 mile heavily trafficked down and back trek near Point Lookout, Missouri. The course is considered easy enough for all skill levels. Dogs are allowed but must be leashed at all times.

Showboat Branson Belle: This popular lunch and dinner attraction, themed after the majestic showboats of the 1800s, offers an exciting event for the whole family. The 2-hour cruise includes a delicious meal and stunning views of Table Rock Lake. The Showboat’s spacious theater holds up to 700 passengers with three area balconies of seats.

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Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery: This hatchery produces between 350,000 and 400,000 pounds of trout each year. Both rainbow and brown trout are raised at the hatchery, and 80% is released into Lake Taneycomo, marketing the area as one of the top fishing lakes in the region. The hatchery includes a conservation center where visitors can learn about the local aquatic life and fishing. The center is open year-round and is free of charge.

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The Dewey Short Visitor Center: Called the ‘crown jewel’ of Table Rock Lake, the Dewey Short Visitor Center is a fun place to take the family. Here you can learn about the dam’s history. In addition, visit some fascinating exhibits that include a state-of-the-art interactive map of Table Rock Lake. The center also features a Native American artifact exhibit and Ozark diorama.

Pro Tip: Check out a nice trail right by the visitor’s center that goes along the water and connects to a dining riverboat.

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