Johnny Morris, founder of Bass Pro Shops and conservationist, continues to celebrate the beauty of the Ozarks and share it with the new Natural Amphitheater.

Thunder Ridge has been announced as one of the most popular stands and arenas in all of North America, and Thunder Ridge is set to reopen in September to host Thunder Days, a competition for the Professional Bull Rider team series.

The nature-based scenic outdoor setting is a pet project by conservation activist Johnny Morris, founder of Bass Pro Shops and Big Cedar Lodge, a natural amphitheater overlooking Table Rock Lake and the Boston Mountains in Arkansas.

“We are very excited for Thunder Ridge to help showcase the true beauty of the Ozarks to our guests,” said Johnny Morris. “This will be a place for visitors of all ages to come and experience some of the best events and the biggest names in entertainment, in a truly amazing environment, surrounded by nature.”

Located on 1,200 acres near Ridgedale, Thunder Ridge is adjacent to the Bass Pro Shops outdoor academy on land originally purchased by Johnny Morris nearly 30 years ago. Over the past decade, it has hosted major gatherings including concerts by Hank Williams Jr., Chris Janson, Dirks Bentley, Tracy Lawrence, and other major acts.

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It has also hosted air shows, hot air balloon shows, US Open Fishing Championships, US Open National Basketball Championships, National 4-H Youth Council Rally, rodeos, conferences, seminars, special events and weddings, and is scheduled to host activities Nature-based for all ages and interests for years to come.

The expansion of Thunder Ridge, which has increased capacity from 10,000 to nearly 50,000, is the latest in Big Cedar Lodge’s proud tradition of hosting world-class hospitality and leisure experiences spanning a variety of recreational markets. Made without any tax dollars, these improvements will double the seating capacity of the previous one, without sacrificing the venue’s stunning nature-based charm. It provides yet another luxurious outdoor setting for a resort that hosts 7 million guests annually, and the Branson community that attracts 10 million visitors each year.

Thunder Ridge land is designated as part of the non-profit Johnny Morris Conservation, so all proceeds from events held at the Nature Arena will go to promoting Thunder Ridge and supporting conservation. The future vision is to host a variety of world-class outdoor events.

The nature based entertainment venue is amazing.

Johnny personally worked closely with contractors to transform the Thunder Ridge Nature Arena, drawing inspiration from visits to some of the country’s most iconic outdoor venues, including The Gorge Amphitheater in Quincy, Washington, the Red Rocks Amphitheater outside Denver, and to the Cheyenne border days in Wyoming.

Thunder Ridge immerses guests in nature, with features like large sloping lawns and fire pits for groups of all sizes to enjoy. This expansion provides additional capacity without sacrificing the stunning natural character of the place.

Shaped into the slopes of the Ozarks Hills and overlooking Table Rock Lake, the plaza setting, near the Missouri-Arkansas border, allows visitors views of the Boston Mountains in Arkansas and immersion completely in nature. Even the car parks are tucked away in the hillsides. Crews are working around the clock to prepare for upcoming major events.

The home team Missouri Thunder, started by Johnny Morris and trained by bull riding legends and Hall of Famers Ross Coleman and Luke Snyder, is currently number one in the standings in the PBR Team Series, which has proven to be a hugely popular addition to the sport.

The area has hosted bull riding events in the past, but nothing on the scale and excitement that the Missouri Thunder and other PBR teams will generate. This will be the first opportunity for local fans to get a taste of this increasingly popular sport.

“Thunder Ridge is one of the most unique and beautiful places I have ever seen. It is truly amazing,” said Colten Fritzlan, one of the best solo riders in the PBR Team Series. “We can’t wait for Thunder Days to be able to put on a show for our fans, and fans of bull riding. Everywhere.”

Thunder Days tickets are now available for purchase at

Future plans include adding a camping space in the area, providing more nature-based experiences and outdoor activities for visitors of all ages to enjoy.

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