The Ozarks have less than 1500 feet of total relief above the Mississippi Delta to the East. However, that counts as "rugged" for the Midwest, so they are worth a visit.
If you stay away from Branson - - and you should - - most of the visitors come for canoeing, a little white water, car camping and a significant amount of grilling and drinking. Get away from them, and there are quite a few places that are surprisingly wild. On a beautiful May weekend on the Ozark Trail, I didn't see another person during the 48 hours I was there.
I'll eventually be putting up some more pages on the area, but for now, this album will serve as a holding area for images.
The Ozark Trail is a long-distance trail throughout the Missouri Ozarks. It's still a work in progress. There are great maps and other information at the Ozark Trail Association webpage
There's a national park in the region, the oddly-named Ozark National Scenic Riverways
. The main attraction is canoeing, kayaking, and partying on gravel bars. There's a reason why they're called gravel bars
. . .
There are lots of state parks scattered throughout the region, see the Missouri Department of Natural Resources site
for links and for information on camping.
Mark Twain National Forest
manages many scattered pieces of land throughout the Ozarks, including lots of campgrounds.
For wildflower identification, try this site
Red Tape and other annoyances
Varies significantly by landowner, including private landowners along the Ozark Trail who allow passage and even camping.
The Missouri Ozarks are definitely "South," and have the rich variety of life that you'd expect. Unpleasant ones include poison ivy, lots of ticks and mosquitoes, water moccasins (western cottonmouths), southern copperheads, timber rattlesnakes, and pygmy rattlesnakes.