My summer has been an ode to country chapels as I’ve found myself seeking out the quiet, hillside spaces for my own quandary and reflection. From castle ruins to country chapel’s, here is a round up of peaceful places tucked away in the Ozarks.
Religious views aside, places of worship are magnificent. Growing up in the South, church on Sunday’s was as about as routine as a Monday night chicken casserole dinner. It’s just what you do, but more importantly it’s where you learn to quiet your spirit, foster grace, and listen.
As a traveler I’ve often sought reprieve in cathedrals, temples, chapels and cemeteries, not for its religious invitation but for its quick entrance into quietude and grandeur. Aged, antiquated and architecturally appealing, the craftsmanship and endurance of these structures require no dogma to enter, only respect and appreciation for sanctuary.
1. Ha Ha Tonka State Park, Castle Ruins
According to Ozark’s folklore, the name itself comes from the local Osage Native American phrase “laughing waters.” The attractive stone remains of a 20th century castle overlook the Lake of Ozark’s along with a carriage house, water tower and chapel on the property. The waters beneath the ridge are the original aquifers to the castle and remain pristine. Follow the bridge path to the springs, an adventure awaits.
2. Thorncrown Chapel, Arkansas
This woodland sanctuary has been awarded amongst the top buildings of the 20th century. Built by architect E. Fay Jones, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, Fay affectionately describes the Thorncrown chapel as “Ozark Gothic.” Service is held here on Sundays and the property is available for weddings. Just across from the Thorncrown chapel is a “sister” chapel of similar form, holding a larger congregation.
3. Hope Wilderness Chapel, Dogwood Canyon
Located inside Dogwood Canyon, Dogwood Chapel is a newer construction built by local artisans in a traditional style. The grounds are beautiful and can be biked, walked or driven (by Dogwood tram tours only). I recommend renting a bike and riding past the chapel to the golden trout pond. The restaurant on the property is beautiful and the attached museum containing native American artifacts is attractive and interesting.
This farm to table river front restaurant highlights seasonal ingredients in an old mill just outside of Springfield, Missouri. The dining space is gorgeous for an afternoon solo lunch or larger family style gatherings. The property also has a garden, coffee shop and a chapel.
The chapel is an open air concept, located just a short walk from The Mill. The bridge and the river contribute to this urban-farm inspired setting that is both unique and intimate. Made with re-claimed materials and designed after historic country chapels, its easy to imagine sharing that special day here.
5. Chapel of the Ozarks
This Chapel sits above the Ozarks with panoramic views from the Top of the Rock property. This enchanting three story pinewood chapel has floor to ceiling glass views of Taney County. Next to the chapel is a high end American lodge restaurant with stunning masonry serving regional cuisine.
6. Garden Chapel, Big Cedar
Located on the property of Big Cedar Lodge, this charming white steeple is about as picturesque as it gets. Enjoy the walking trails and the views of the property from the white chapel, then head down the hill to for lunch at the Truman Cafe.
7. Integrity Hills
Integrity Hills is a stunning chapel overlooking the glossy blue waters of Table rock Lake. The property has a garden, guest home, a fountain and a dreamy chapel perched in the hills above Ridgedale Missouri. The chapel is by appointment only and books up in advance all year long.
8. Christ of the Ozarks
Built in 1966, this Christ statue sits above Eureka Springs with an arm spread of 65 feet wide, warmly embracing the town below. This non-profit organization has a few different things on the property, a small chapel, a bomb shelter donated by Israel and a unique segment of the Berlin Wall.
The Ozarks are alot of things, but for me they were peaceful, serene and unbothered by “the rest of the world.” The spirit of a place can really be felt by its spiritual traditions and the land that holds it. The simple life found in the Ozarks preserves the old traditions, respects its neighbors, and keeps the spirit of “goodness” alive.