Lead Mine Conservation Area

Millers Country Store

Bulk Food Store and Greenhouse

I recently took a drive further into Dallas County to check out Lead Mine, an area specifically set up for equestrians with specialty primitive camp grounds for horse enthusiasts.  There are plenty of marked trails for horses, hikers, bicyclists, and access to the Niangua River for floating.  It is also part of the Missouri Birding Trail.  I took Hwy 73 just north of Buffalo off Hwy 65 and followed the signs into the area.

Lead Mine is directly east of Tunas, Missouri and is home to a Mennonite community so watch for horse drawn buggies, wagons and children on bicycles.  I stopped at a few stores including Miller’s Country Store and The Lead Mine Country Store and Restaurant.  The restaurant is only open limited hours so I was not able to sample any food, but the store did not disappoint.

The Lead Mine Country Store is chock full of all types of books on farming, cooking, hunting and what to do with your harvest-whether it’s meat or vegetable.  I could have easily spent a lot of money on books while there.  They also have a good selection of bulk spices, enamelware, and supplies for canning as well as bolts of cloth, hats, gloves, and a wide variety of suspenders.  If you have ever dreamed of homesteading, this is your store.

The Lead Mine Country Store and Restaurant

Lots to look at in this quaint stop on Hwy YY.

Miller’s Country Store off Hwy 73 also run by Mennonites has a greenhouse, outdoor furniture collection, large bulk food selection, frozen section, spices and a deli counter.  I bought some herbs and admired the container flower gardens.  Miller’s is larger and boasts more light inside, Lead Mine Country Store is quaint and old fashioned.  While at Lead Mine I paid a quarter for an area map of businesses to check out later including Niangua Furniture and Wenger’s Greenhouse.

Miller's Country Store

Bulk food store and much more. Hwy 73 North of Buffalo

Some things of note as I did not have much time, this was an exploratory trip:

  1. Conservation areas in Missouri can sometimes be deceptive.  Most that I have been to have very innocuous entrances leading you to believe you have arrived at your destination and there really isn’t much to brag about.  Lead Hill is one of these places, so keep driving.
  2. Wifi doesn’t work real well out here. I actually pulled out my Missouri map from the glove box to relocate myself several times between spotty internet access for Google Maps.  A map specific to the Lead Mine CA area would have been helpful and is available here https://nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/places/lead-mine-ca:
  3. During this particular trip, I realized I needed to take my personal security a little more seriously as I am occasionally alone when hiking or taking photographs. I realized after a truck and trailer (not a horse trailer) had passed me slowly several times that I was in a vulnerable position and really couldn’t defend myself should I meet someone who meant me harm.  Most of the time, personal crimes are committed by people the victim knows, but sometimes they are crimes of opportunity.  This trip solidified in my mind that I needed mace and possibly other protective gear to demonstrate, if needed, that I was serious in protecting myself.
  4. This would be an excellent area for attempting mountain biking, which is something I have been considering doing more of this spring and summer to increase my fitness level. I’ll let you know how it goes.
  5. Ticks were out in the high grass and I completed a tick check as soon as I got home from my little exploratory hike. Should have sprayed down first.

This drive would be an excellent Saturday trip, as the above stores are NOT open on Sundays.  Whether you want to hike, float, fish or ride your horse, this is an area to put on your list.  Don’t forget to bring your binoculars, bug repellent , water and get out there!

Check out the Facebook page How to do the Ozarks and Instagram htdto2020 for more pictures and places to visit!

Christy’s Top Places to Eat in the Ozarks Part I


Due to Covid 19 I have added phone numbers or websites to assist with ordering curbside or delivery.

Top 10 Places to Eat in the Ozarks

Mr G’s Chicago Pizza and Pub Branson Mo

Mr. G’s Chicago Pizza and Pub (417-335-8156) located at 202 N. Commercial Street in Branson Missouri is the home of Chicago Pizza in the Southwest Ozarks.  We drive 40 miles to this spot for the best Chicago style pizza this part of Missouri has to offer.  Thick or thin crust, the sausage is awesome and the service is usually on point.  When they get busy, you may have a wait.  Or get it to go and eat down at the Branson Landing while people watching, just bring plenty of napkins.

Jose Locos with 2 locations in Springfield, Missouri.  Located at 853 N. Glenstone (417-831-1300) and 300 East Battlefield ((417-885-9097) they have great specials, fishbowl margaritas, and excellent service.  I have been eating at restaurants owned by this family since 1994 and have never been disappointed.  The Cancun Burrito is a special favorite.

Mexican Style food in a fun atmosphere.

Jose Locos N. Glenstone Springfield MO

Deb and Lou’s Café Gainesville (417-679-0048) located in the heart of downtown Gainesville Missouri at 345 S. Main.  Old fashioned Formica tables, metal chairs and great food.  Their cake is homemade and the frosting is fantastic.  Downtown Gainesville is also home to some cute shops so you might want to spend the afternoon browsing in this quaint town.  It’s a beautiful ride down Hwy 14 to Ava then south on Hwy 5 to Gainesville.

Black Sheep Burgers and Shakes in Downtown Springfield (417-319-5905) and Chesterfield Village (417-368-0227) is a must try.  There is also a Black Sheep ASAP on East Sunshine (417-351-3595).  The burgers are HUGE and the shakes are delicious and made with our own Andy’s Frozen Custard.  I seem to always want the Cowboy Carl burger and the Sugar Daddy or Elvis shake.  Share some fries with truffle dipping sauce and you will not want to move from your stylish seat for quite some time.

El Rodeo (417-777-7020) located off the square in Bolivar Missouri at 306 E Jackson is a sprawling Mexican restaurant that has earned its place in the hearts of Bolivar residents.  They have an excellent menu and their service has always been on point whenever I have visited.  My mom and her husband visit them at least once a month and are always satisfied.  Warning: no alcohol sales at this restaurant.

Mickeys 76 Drive In (www.Mickeys76drivein.com) located in Branson West on Hwy 76. Just look for the big Vienna wiener out by the street.  Mickey’s has excellent chocolate shakes, beefs, Vienna hot dogs and more.  Just what northern transplants look for in their Drive In restaurants.   Outside seating only.

Rosie Joes in Ozark (417-581-6047) serves some of the best fried catfish I have ever had.  Located on 1711 South  15th St. in Ozark Missouri, you will not leave hungry.  Portions are large and meals come with 2 sides and bread including cornbread.  They have moved into this location and have more room in a newer building so look them up on Maps if you haven’t been down to visit them in a while.

The Boathouse (417-276-5361) in Stockton Missouri on Hwy 39 is temporarily closed due to Covid 19, but when they open it is worth the drive to check out their fried chicken, huge rolls, and eclectic décor.  Plan to take a walk around the dam after you eat, because you may not be able to resist the desserts.

Top 10 places to eat in the Ozarks

The Boathouse Stockton Mo


Flat Creek Restaurant in Republic (417-732-5441) is an off shoot of the original restaurant in Cape Fair.  Catfish is their claim to fame as well as good service and interesting Ozark décor.  I had a pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw on the sandwich (don’t knock it til you’ve tried it) and fries which could have fed two people.  They also have daily specials that are reasonable.  Expect a wait on weekends.

Top 10 places to eat in the Ozarks

Flat Creek Restaurant Republic Mo

Whole Hog Café-224 W. Sunshine ( WholeHogCafe.com)-has an excellent selection of BBQ sauces on the table all of which I tried.  Their pulled pork sandwich (coleslaw on the side this time) was delicious served with fresh potato salad and my favorite burnt end cheesy corn.  Delicious!


Whole Hog Cafe E. Sunshine Springfield Mo

Your favorite, or new favorite restaurant is counting on your support during these troubled times.  Please do what you reasonably can to support their efforts to stay in business as this illness runs its course through our world.  I encourage you to safely get out, enjoy a car ride, limit your physical contact with others, and support your community.