Jump in the car or fire up your motorcycle for a really fun ride. Grab a burger or some Texas-style BBQ. Find out why Missouri is called the Cave State. And end the day at a bed-and-breakfast or a hotel to rest up for the ride home.

THE ROLLING HILLS of the Ozarks result from the late Paleozoic geological time, when South America collided with North America and the existing deep ocean basin was uplifted to create the scenic Ozark Plateau. But you can forget the science. This is one fun ride.

The Gateway to the Ozarks skirts the state borders of Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas.

From Joplin, head south on Business Route 49 to Neosho. Hungry already? Get great food in a unique atmosphere at Sam’s Cellar Bar, or grab a bite at Charley’s Grill, a classic burger joint on Wood Street.

At Neosho, catch Route 86 and ride it through the hills and curves of the southwest Missouri countryside to Wheaton. Just south of Wheaton, you’ll catch Route 76 to Cassville. Check out the Texas-style barbecue at the family-owned, family-run, and family-friendly BBQ Station.

At the junction of Routes 76 and 37, you’ll keep going straight. Route 76 becomes Route 112, and you’ll want to follow it all the way to Roaring River State Park, which has more than 50 picnic areas and two covered shelters complete with outdoor grills, picnic tables, and power outlets to recharge phones.

Photos Courtesy of Joplin Convention and Visitors Bureau and Missouri Division of Tourism.

Leaving Roaring River, stay on Route 112 for a few short miles until you reach Seligman. There, take Route 37 north to Washburn, then turn west on Route 90. This stretch of road should have enough turns and hills to hold your attention all the way through Noel to the junction of Route 43. If you have time, jog down Route 59 south of Noel to Bluff Dwellers Cave for a peek into why Missouri is called the Cave State.

Take Route 43 north to Loma Linda, where you’ll catch Route 86 for the ride back into Joplin. Plan on staying overnight in a bed-and-breakfast or one of two dozen hotels.

Mother Road enthusiasts will definitely want to explore Joplin’s historic past along Route 66.


1. Sam’s Cellar Bar and Oven, Neosho
2. Charley’s Grill, Neosho
3. BBQ Station, Cassville
4. Roaring River State Park, Cassville
5. Bluff Dwellers Cave, Noel
6. Route 66 Mural Park, Joplin

Take a trip on Route 66 with Missouri Life TV’s host Meredith Hoenes.



Article originally published in Missouri Life’s Scenic Rides and Drive Guide 2023.