New Missouri Ozarks 'wilderness resort' by Bass Pro founder overlooks giant sinkhole

Construction is scheduled to begin this summer on the new Top of the Rock Lodge in Ridgedale, Mo.
Construction is scheduled to begin this summer on the new Top of the Rock Lodge in Ridgedale, Mo. Bass Pro Shops

Southwest Missouri may soon be home to a resort with a view — into Earth.

Bass Pro founder Johnny Morris is planning to build "a new signature wilderness resort" that will overlook the 200-foot deep sinkhole that he calls "The Cathedral of Nature."

The Ridgedale, Mo., project, known as the Top of the Rock Lodge, is described as a "soaring" timber-and-stone clad structure.

The lodge would accompany Morris' Top of the Rock, which is home to a golf course, restaurants, a cave and nature trail and the Ancient Ozarks Natural History Museum. Less than a mile from Top of the Rock is Big Cedar Lodge, which Morris also owns.

Officials with Johnny Morris' Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium invited media to tour the new facility in Springfield, Mo.

The new resort would feature more than 100 rooms with stone fireplaces and direct views of the sinkhole and Table Rock Lake, according to a news release.

When the sinkhole opened in May 2015, it inspired Morris to excavate the site, hoping it would uncover a secret cave system. Since then, crews have removed more than 70,000 truckloads of dirt and rock, revealing massive limestone formations. Geological engineers deemed the sinkhole site to be stable.

In addition to the views, the lodge will also feature an infinity pool, spa, fitness center, meeting space and a bridge connecting guests to the Top of the Rock Ozarks Heritage Preserve.

"Our guests consistently tell us visiting Top of the Rock is one the best parts of their Big Cedar Lodge experience," Morris said in a statement. "This is a very special place and we couldn’t be more excited to further immerse people in the spectacular natural beauty and genuine Ozarks hospitality found here."

Construction is scheduled to begin this summer.

The Taney County Planning & Zoning director told the Branson Tri-Lakes News that the land is already approved for lodging. However, the project will need to obtain a building permit from the county, which had not yet been requested.