Memories of cookies and cider, sled rides, homemade gifts and ornaments, and warm gatherings of friends and family are all part of the spirit of Christmas in the Ozarks.

Ozark National Scenic Riverways (ONSR) will celebrate the holiday season with special open house events at Van Buren and Eminence in December.  alley-mill-holiday-greens-_-snow

A Christmas Open House will be held at the ONSR Van Buren Visitor Center on Friday, Dec. 2, from 4-8 p.m. This year they are turning back the clock to a simpler time, decorating the official park Christmas trees with traditional, old-fashioned Ozark ornaments made by local Van Buren and East Carter third grade students. Guests can enjoy hot cocoa and cookies with plenty of holiday cheer, and admire the handmade decorations.

The Visitor Center is located at 404 Watercress Dr. in Van Buren. For more information, please contact Ranger Cathy Runge at (573) 323-4806 or email

An Ozark Christmas Celebration will take place at Alley Spring on Saturday, Dec. 10, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. The historic Alley Mill, Storys Creek School and General Store will all be decorated in the holiday fashion.

Alley Mill will be open during the event and will feature Christmas trees adorned with handmade ornaments created by the third grade classes from Winona, Eminence and Summersville. Take home the memory by creating your own unique traditional tree ornament or by taking a family portrait at the Christmas photo station.

Bring the family and partake in holiday refreshments, hot beverages and hear traditional Christmas music. Ole Saint Nick himself might even stop by for a cookie or two and join in the festivities.

For more information, please contact Ranger Josh Chilton at (573) 226-3945 or email

These free events are part of the National Park Service Centennial Celebration and are sponsored in part by the park’s cooperating association, Eastern National. Eastern National bookstores will be open to offer holiday gift ideas for visitors looking for special Ozark gifts.

Ozark National Scenic Riverways preserves the free-flowing Current and Jacks Fork Rivers, the surrounding natural resources, and the unique cultural heritage of the Ozark people.

For more information, visit the park’s Facebook page, visit the park website at, or call (573) 323-4236.