For an educational experience that is both free and fun for the whole family, take a day to visit the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery in Branson.
This impressive facility is much more than what it sounds like, offering guided and self-guided tours of the hatchery, interactive exhibits, aquariums filled with trout, multi-media presentations and access to year-round lakeside fishing and the trails near the conservation center.
The hatchery is located just below Table Rock Dam and produces between 350,000 and 400,000 pounds of trout every year and is the largest trout-rearing facility operated by the Missouri Department of Conservation. It was built in 1957 with trout production beginning just a year later when construction of the dam was completed.
The hatchery’s aquariums and tours allow you to see the rainbow and brown trout that are raised onsite up close as they pass through different stages of growth. The exhibits describe trout spawning, egg development and rearing techniques so you and your kids can learn all about the processes that are ongoing at the hatchery. Guided tours are available on weekdays from Memorial Day to Labor Day but self-guided tours are available at any other time throughout the year.
The Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery lies in a unique area of rich forestry called the White River Valley. The trails on the property boast an amazing variety of wildlife ranging from the state bluebird, great blue heron, kingfisher and bald eagles to red-shouldered hawks, woodpeckers and all kinds of songbirds.
While hiking the trails, you may also come across an interesting array of plant life with clusters of wildflowers, beautiful violets, large oak and hickory trees, wild plum trees and the Ashe’s juniper, which is only found in the Ozarks.
The trails on the fish hatchery grounds also provide year-round trout fishing access, so bring your line, pole and bait and make it a full day of fishing fun.
Surrounded by the beautiful, steep bluffs of the White River Valley, you’re sure to have an exciting venture at the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery, just six miles southwest of Branson on Highway 165.
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