Known as “America’s Premier Wilderness Resort,” Big Cedar spans more than 4,000 acres and includes five golf courses, two marinas, a state of the art shooting center and just about every other imaginable outdoor activity, from go-kart racing and a ropes course to horseback riding and two different cave tours. The place is so big it has two main resort centers, one clustered around the check-in and most lodging, the other around a golf course and vast 300-million-year-old limestone canyon known as The Cathedral of Nature.
Overlooking these stunning subterranean formations from the highest point within the resort is Top of the Rock, a uniquely massive complex that combines a golf clubhouse and pro shop, full-blown natural history museum, four restaurants and bars, including the Osage, the resort’s flagship fine dining eatery. An architectural curiosity all its own, Top of the Rock combines elements of a medieval castle, wine country chateau and National Park Lodge—all with a bit of Wild West flair thrown in.
Day and night, resort guests flock to Top of the Rock for golf, dining and drinking, the adjacent cave tours, museum and the nightly sunset celebration, combining a Scottish golf inspired bagpipe session with the firing of a historic Civil War cannon. But most guests come and go while overlooking a hidden gem, the End of The Trail, an upscale whiskey and wine bar and cigar venue hidden below the Osage restaurant in what would be the castle’s keep.
End of the Trail is accessed through arched stone tunnel-like hallways reminiscent of the crypts below the streets of Rome, except with Native American antiques, sculptures and artwork in its recessed wall alcoves rather than skeletons. This leads to a glass whiskey room, with a bar for sampling five dozen Bourbons and domestic whiskies, many of them high-end and very limited, such as Cornerstone Wild Turkey’s Master’s Keep, WhistlePig Boss Hog, George T. Stagg and 12 year old RIP Van Winkle Lot B, along with a showcase of regionally produced Missouri whiskies.
Just past the whiskey room is the main attraction, a large wine bar in the cellar setting with 16 choices by the glass, from entry level to Silver Oak to Opus One. Set into one of the arched stone wine cellar vaults is a large double doored glass humidor, with over a dozen choices spanning a broad price and size range, from a 5x49 Arturo Fuente 8-5-8 ($12) to a 6x52 Opus X Lost City ($48). The selection includes options from top name brands including Macanudo, Cohiba, Romeo y Julieta, Rocky Patel, My Father, Montecristo, Davidoff, Ashton and more.
The wine bar has direct access to a large private outdoor patio with stunning views over a reflecting pool surrounding the large namesake “End of the Trail” bronze sculpture of a Native American on horseback, and beyond that infinity edge, a panorama of the 43,000-acre Table Rock Lake. It is the best and least known vantage point for the nightly sunset celebration, and with wine and whiskey service, heaters in cooler weather (though there is not much of that here), the End of the Trail patio is an oasis, and just the perfect place to enjoy a cigar and libation.
Owned by the founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops, Big Cedar has some of the best freshwater fishing and marinas of any resort. It is also home to the only public access Tiger Woods-designed golf course in the country, plus additional layouts by Tom Fazio, Coore & Crenshaw and Gary Player, and the patio sits just below the first tee of the Jack Nicklaus Signature Top of the Rock course.
End of The Trail
Top of the Rock
150 Top of the Rock Road
Ridgedale, MO 65739
End of The Trail is Open Daily, Monday through Sunday: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.