I’m usually more of a “hike through the trees” kind of outdoor gal. But my trip to the Stonewater Cove Resort in Shell Knob, Missouri, introduced me to the adrenalin rush of driving an ATV through the forest. Not as eco-friendly, but it sure is fun.


I was admittedly nervous when I first hopped on my machine. But the staff at Stonewater is knowledgable, patient and friendly. We got individual instruction in how to turn it on, turn it off, locate the emergency switch, pull the brake and run the throttle. Then we took off slowly, driving in a line with one staffer leading the way and another bringing up the rear. We practiced weaving around some trees in the meadow, went over a little hill and drove around in circles in a bowl until everyone felt comfortable before heading into the woods.

We traveled a groomed trail at a top speed of about 12 mph. Up hills, across little streams, down hills, over rocks. After about an hour, I noticed a cramp in my hand. I had been holding on so tight to the handlebars.

You have to be 16 to drive your own, which means most kids here are riders. Just to get that perspective, I jumped on the back of one of the two-seater ATVs. It’s a whole different way to ride. On the upside, I was able to look around at the forest (I even spotted a beautiful white-tailed deer running through the trees), something I missed completely when I was driving and spending all of my time looking at the trail to see where I was going and what obstacles I would hit next. On the downside, it’s a rougher ride. You can’t see where the bumps are, so it’s tough to prepare for them. I felt a little like I had been shaken not stirred when I got off.

The ATVs are just one of the activities offered at this elegant but rustic resort. We also did a zip line. More on that later.