The nation's favorite recreational lake is also one of the best places to see gorgeous fall colors, according to a new poll released by USAToday/10Best.
The survey results were announced on Friday, Oct. 12, revealing Lake of the Ozarks was voted the second-best "Destination for Fall Foliage" in America. Readers from across the country had been asked to choose their top spot for viewing the stunning colors of fall. Lake of the Ozarks finished in the polling behind Michigan's Upper Peninsula, and beat out eight other destinations, including the Pocono Mountains, Door County in Wisconsin, and the White Mountains in New Hampshire. (Top 10 results below) The Ozarks made the list twice, with the Fayetteville/Ozarks Mountain region finishing in sixth place.
"Every autumn, we have many visitors return to the Lake of the Ozarks area for the changing of the seasons," said Tim Jacobsen, executive director of the Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitor Bureau.
"The majority of our fall visitors come from Missouri, but we get a lot from all over the Midwest and the west coast, as well, because they don't get to experience fall like we do here in Central Missouri. They plan their entire vacations around it. Perhaps with this recognition, we'll see more visitors from around the country traveling to our beautiful destination to enjoy our stunning scenery. We would certainly welcome them."
Traditionally, the peak of the fall color at the Lake of the Ozarks occurs in mid- to late-October, when the maples, ashes, oaks and hickories—which abound throughout the area—are at the height of their fall display. The peak season varies from year to year depending on the weather and can last until early November.
The Lake of the Ozarks features 1,150 miles of shoreline, much of it lined with pristine stretches of hardwood forests that turn vibrant hues of red, orange and yellow. The Lake stretches across four counties, running 92 miles from end to end, so this expansive area makes for prime "leaf-peeping" action every year.
There are many excellent ways to experience the splendor of the season at the Lake of the Ozarks. On land, visitors can take self-guided scenic driving tours, hike in the area's two state parks, play a round at one of 14 championships golf courses or enjoy the scenery from a delicious lakeside restaurant. On the water, "leaf-peepers" can take in the sights on a leisurely cruise on the Lake of the Ozarks or by fighting fish in a colorful cove.
However visitors decide to spend their time at the Lake, they will want to bring their cameras because they'll be in for a treat during one of the most visually stunning times of the year in the Ozarks.
USAToday/10Best Survey Results
1. Upper Peninsula - Michigan
2. Lake of the Ozarks - Missouri
3. Pocono Mountains - Pennsylvania
4. Door County - Wisconsin
5. North Conway & the White Mountains - New Hampshire
6. Fayetteville & the Ozark Mountain Region - Arkansas
7. The Berkshires - Massachusetts
8. The Catskills - New York
9. Black Hills & Badlands - South Dakota
10. Taos - New Mexico