While envisioning Big Cedar in the mid-eighties, Johnny studied old Ozarks photographs and grand Adirondack lodges with Bass Pro’s architect, Tom Jowett. “I wanted things to be nostalgic, that old hunt-camp feel to conjure up times past,” he says. To create a striking, Yellowstone-like aura, Johnny chose naturally cured logs from western Montana’s Bitterroot Valley to frame and accent Big Cedar’s 3 lodges and 81 cabins. He also filled out guest rooms and gathering spaces with bears, moose, whitetail deer, and trophy trout, many donated from longtime Bass Pro Shops customers. Teddy Roosevelt would be proud.
10: The main road is Johnny’s decompression chamber
For Johnny, Big Cedar’s half-mile-long entry drive meanders from ridgetop to shoreline like a man walking in the woods, giving a mysterious sense of arrival for 600,000 guests every year. “The road is an escape,” Johnny says. “It’s my decompression chamber.” He’s currently building a second road, this one four times as long and leading cars through a limestone cave.