(Last Updated On: January 26, 2022)

waterfall at state park near branson missouri

Branson is a popular vacation destination. Visitors flock to this friendly city for the live music, shows and theme parks.

For more than 50 years Branson has entertained audiences with live performances (there are at least a 100 different ones going on all of the time). But at one time Branson was known primarily for its country music scene. Today music lovers of all genres will find what they are craving in this historic city.

Historic downtown Branson has many old theaters, museums, shops and restaurants. And out on 76 Country Blvd you’ll find the many large attractions including The Titanic Museum, a zoo, an aquarium, The Marvel Cave, Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede.

The 1800s themed Silver Dollar City is another stop you won’t want to miss! This large amusement park has a water park, a theme park, a dinner cruise and a campground. You’re sure to find something of interest for everyone here.

With all of this live entertainment to keep you busy, why would you even consider looking elsewhere?

How about because Branson is close to the Ozarks, the beautiful mountains of Southwest Missouri that are known for their sparkling springs, lakes, waterfall and caves. And there are 7 state parks all within 2 hours by car from Branson.

Map of State Parks Near Branson MO

Here is a map of the Missouri state parks covered in this post:

List of State Parks Near Branson

Here are each of those state parks with distance from Branson and what is special about each.

1. Table Rock State Park

Location: 5272 MO-165, Branson, MO 65616

This 356 acre park is located within Branson, in the White River Hills of the Ozarks and on Table Rock Lake. There are trails and picnic sites here plus a full service marina where you can rent boats and other supplies.

Fishing is also popular here and you can purchase bait and fishing supplies at The Boathouse Store. They also carry snacks, apparel and gifts.

If you’d like to spend the night there are two campgrounds with basic sites and others with water and electric hookups. These peaceful campsites are along the lake and nestled in the wooded areas.

2. Busiek State Forest and Wildlife Area

Location: Highlandville, MO 65669

This 2700 acre state park is located just 20 minutes from Branson in Highlandville. There are 18 miles of trails here for hiking, bicycling and riding horses.

The park allows hunting and has a shooting range as well. Be sure to wear bright colors (especially orange) if you are here during hunting season.

You can camp here too, in one of their 8 primitive tent only campsites. This is a great location to camp and enjoy the trails and all of the wildlife around you.

3. Roaring River State Park

Location: 12716 Farm Rd 2239, Cassville, MO 65625

This larger state park is about an hour’s drive from Branson. There are 7 hiking trails here plus picnic tables and a great spot to fish (for rainbow trout).

The Ozark Chinquapin Nature Center shares the park’s natural history by showcasing live animals and nature exhibits. You can purchase books, guides and souvenirs in their gift shop and the Center is open seasonally from March 1 to October 31.

The campground is also open between March and October (reservations are required). Bring your own tent or RV (there are electric and water hookups) or stay in one of the 26 rustic cabins available. Each cabin has 2 bedrooms and a kitchen and are scattered throughout the park. Dogs are allowed to stay for an additional fee.

The Emory Melton Inn and Conference Center is another option if you are interested in staying overnight but looking for something more modern. This stone and timber lodge with restaurant is located near the entrance to the park.

There are 26 comfortable and spacious guest rooms to choose from, some with kitchenettes and some with private balconies that overlook the river valley below.

4. Bennett Spring State Park

Location: 26250 MO-64A, Lebanon, MO 65536

This large state park is located a bit further outside of Branson – about an hour and half drive. The park is centered on the spring that flows into the Niangua River and is one of Missouri’s oldest state parks.

Popular activities found here are hiking trails, fishing (rainbow trout) and attending fly fishing school.

There are 5 campgrounds located within the park. Each has basic sites as well as sites with electric/water hookups, plus cabins and motel rooms with kitchens.

Also within the park: a dining lodge, a park store and a nature center.

5. Stockton State Park

Location: 19100 MO-215, Dadeville, MO 65635

Located an hour and half’s drive outside of Branson, this 2,176 acre park is situated on the shores of Stockton Lake. If you’re looking for a sandy beach this is where you’ll want to be.

The beach area is open from Memorial Day weekend until Labor Day and has restrooms and a changing house for your convenience. And there is also a marina here with two launching ramps and a place where you can rent a variety of boats.

Campsites are available between March and October. There are basic sites as well as ones with water/electric hookup plus duplex cabins with kitchenettes, motel rooms, a dining lodge and a park store.

This is an ideal vacation spot for families to spend quality time together while enjoying nature, bird watching, fishing, boating and swimming.

6. Ha Ha Tonka State Park

Location: 1491 Missouri D, Camdenton, MO 65020

This state park is almost a 2 hour drive from Branson but is worth the drive to see its many geological features. The park itself is about 3700 acres and sits on the Niangua Arm of the Lake of the Ozarks.

There are 14 trails as well as boardwalks and picnic sites here. The interesting features that set this park apart from the other state parks are the sinkholes, caves, large natural formed bridge, sheer bluffs and the ruins of a castle.

The castle was built during the 1920s and briefly served as a hotel until it burned during the 1940s. It’s a spectacular view atop the sheer cliffs overlooking the water.

The many caves located here are thought to have been used by counterfeiters in the 1800s. Sadly only one cave is open to the public – Island Cave. You can visit it between June and September and see the amazing natural geological formations inside.

7. Lake of the Ozarks State Park

Location: 0170, 403 MO-134, Kaiser, MO 65047

This park is the largest state park in the state and, not surprisingly, the most popular. It’s located 2 hours from Branson on the Grand Glaize Arm of the Lake of the Ozarks.

This natural peaceful area is just minutes from shopping, restaurants and other entertainment venues. You won’t realize that though while you’re sitting on the beach area in the undeveloped cove watching people swim, boat and fish.

Visiting here is like traveling back in time to a slower, more gentle pace of life. Hike, bike or ride horses on the trails through the woodlands, across small streams and up to the top of the bluff with its view of the lake.

There are 3 park stores and year round campsites (rustic cabins and yurts) located within the park.

Explore the caves with Ozark Caverns Cave Tours from May to September. Their visitor center has a lot of educational resources about the caves and the wildlife in the area.

And if you’re looking for somewhere rustic to hold a wedding or other special event check out the Pin Oak Facility and amphitheater located here. The rustic 1930s lodge has immense stone fireplaces and iron light fixtures that add to its charm. They also have a full kitchen so that you can have your event catered.

After you’ve taken in a show or two in Branson, make a plan to get outside of the city and stay in one of these beautiful scenic state parks. You’ll see first hand all that Missouri has to offer!