Ridgedale, Missouri

Photo: Big Cedar Lodge
Photo: Big Cedar Lodge

It snowed overnight. A powdery dusting, yet to be disrupted by footprints, covers the ground outside. Icicles dangle from the hickory branches; the pine trees’ arms droop under the extra weight. The still river looks glassy. While gray clouds hang low in the sky. You’re warm and cozy inside, though.

You’re in the middle of the Ozarks, a mountain-like plateau that covers much of southern Missouri and northern Arkansas. You’re overlooking an arm of Table Rock Lake, a damned reservoir full of largemouth and spotted bass. And you’re staying at Big Cedar Lodge, an Adirondack-style resort known for its rustic elegance and beautiful views.

Your log cabin is hidden among the trees on the hillside. It has a vaulted ceiling, hardwood floors, and stained glass windows. A wood-burning fireplace and driftwood furniture give the cabin a homey feel. Modern amenities, like a jet tub, haven’t been forgotten. A basket of snacks sits on the table. Plus, a woman known as the “cookie lady” will deliver gingerbread treats—in the shape of cedar trees—before turndown.

Photo: Big Cedar Lodge
Photo: Big Cedar Lodge

Big Cedar Lodge is a popular summer destination. Families come to ride horses, kayak on the lake, golf at the two courses, and swim in the heated pools. But right now, the resort is quiet. The Christmas crowds have gone, the couples celebrating Valentine’s Day won’t arrive for a few more weeks, and it’s too cold for most of those outdoor activities. It’s the perfect mid-winter escape.

After a lazy morning, bundle up to head outside into the crisp air. Follow the hiking trails—they begin by the stables—along the lake-view path. Go fishing for crappie and trout, which are still biting, despite the cold weather. Warm up by the huge stone fireplace at Devil’s Pool Restaurant, where spiced cider is served at the 100-year-old bar. Relax during a deep-tissue massage at the Cedar Creek Spa. Go to the Top of the Rock for dinner at Osage Restaurant and wine at the End of the Trail wine cellar. Both have lake and sunset views. Then have a nightcap at the Buzzard Bar, where the Singin’ Cowboy, who performed at the Grand Ole Opry, sings your favorite country songs.

As you walk back to your cabin later, most of the snow has been removed from the paths. The sky is clear now. A strong wind makes you shiver in your wool coat. You walk faster, rushing toward the roaring fire in your cabin. And the sweet treat, as well.

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