If your only point of reference for the Ozarks is the hit Netflix show 'Ozark,' go ahead and erase everything you know about the place. In the show, the Ozarks are abandoned, depressing, and surprisingly drug-ridden. While it's a great show, it couldn't be further from the truth when it comes to visiting this beautiful U.S. region. So, if you don't know much about the Ozarks, read on. We bet you'll want to book a trip there after you learn these four things you never knew about the Ozarks.
The Lake of the Ozarks Has More Shoreline Than California
Perhaps the biggest attraction of the Ozarks, for both tourists and locals alike, is the Lake of the Ozarks. According to Visit Missouri, this massive lake has more than 1,100 miles of coastline. That's more coastline than the entire state of California! Of course, with all of that coastline comes all the water sports you can imagine. The Lake of the Ozarks is a major destination for boating and fishing. You don't even have to haul your boat there. You can rent anything from a pontoon boat to a houseboat or a ski boat.
Other fun activities you can do at or near the lake include ziplining, helicopter tours, horseback riding, golfing, and visiting wineries. With all of these diverse activities, the Lake of the Ozarks attracts millions of visitors each year. The lake gets its miles and miles of shoreline from its unique shape, which also makes it almost impossible to explore the whole thing. The form of the reservoir is a serpentine shape with many offshoots. Aerial photography shows how the lake looks like a dragon, which inspired the Dragon Street Meet annual car show.
The Lake of the Ozarks Is Full of Underwater Oddities
You'd expect any lake to have its fair share of weird items at the bottom. The Lake of the Ozarks has given us some truly bizarre findings. The most notable is a car stolen from actor Nicolas Cage. We know you're waiting for a punchline here, but we're serious! In 2002, divers discovered a Porsche at the bottom of the lake. When they were able to get it to the surface, officials confirmed the luxury car was stolen from Nick Cage himself.
Another oddity is the presence of freshwater jellyfish. Didn't know that was a thing? Usually, you associate jellyfish with the ocean. But there are freshwater jellyfish. Freshwater jellyfish are an invasive species. If they tagged along on someone's boat, it wouldn't take long for a population to blossom.
Other random things that have been found during shore cleanups at the Lake of the Ozarks are a prosthetic leg, a treadmill, a bowling ball, a shopping cart, and a motorcycle.
There Are Rumors of Catfish Big Enough to Eat a Human at the Lake
It seems fitting this vast body of water should have a mysterious creature myth to go along with it. Greg Stoner from the Missouri Department of Conservation explains that the lake is stocked every year. While catfish are one of the fish they put in the lake, the largest one ever caught was 130 pounds. That's not to say that isn't a massive catfish. But, a catfish large enough to eat a human simply doesn't exist. If you still aren't convinced, you can take solace in the fact that every two years, the dam gets a full underwater inspection. If there were giant catfish in that lake, they'd probably see evidence of them then. Or would they?
The Ozarks Are Full of Caves, Caverns, and Sinks
The Lake of the Ozarks is the most popular feature of the regions, and the mountains are probably the second. But the Ozarks region is also home to other fascinating landforms, including caves, caverns, and sinks (or karstic landforms). There are many places where you can explore caves in the Ozarks. One of the most popular destinations is the Blanchard Springs Caverns. This tourist hotspot is located in Ozark National Forest, and it's the perfect place for both recreation and learning. You can bring the family to come swim in the creek, explore the caverns with a cave tour, and even camp in the surrounding campgrounds.
There are also four "show caves," or caves modified for visitors to explore, within a short distance of the Lake of the Ozarks. These include the Bridal Cave, Jacob's Cave, Stark Caverns, and Ozark Caverns. Missouri is known as the Cave State because there are over 6,300 registered caves there. But the vast majority of these caves are wild, meaning they aren't groomed for exploration, and you probably shouldn't explore them without professional training. The show caves, however, provide an excellent experience for the whole family to see some of the most incredible cave formations and caverns Mother Nature has to display.