Ha Ha Tonka State Park-A Park Like No Other!

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Ha Ha Tonka (Osage Indian for "Laughing Waters") State Park is a beautiful state park located just outside of Camdenton, MO. This lovely park features the ruins of a castle, a natural bridge formation, a spring with boardwalk, an island to explore, a river cave, a visitor's center, a park with shelter house and playground, old post office and beauty everywhere you look. 

The park has an interesting history. A Ha Tonka Castle construction was started by Robert McClure Snyder in 1905. Mr. McClure was killed in a car accident in 1906 and his 3 sons finished the castle. When Union Electric began to make plans to create the Lake of the Ozarks, the McClure brothers sued to protect their lands, but the legal costs and the depression depleted their finances and in the late 1920's they were forced to lease the castle to a woman who ran it as a hotel.  In 1942, the castle burned as did the carriage house and stables.  In a matter of moments nothing was left but the stone.  These ruins are still standing and are beautiful and unique to see.



The estate sits on a cliff overlooking the beautiful Lake of the Ozarks. This beautiful view can be enjoyed from several nice lookout decks.  You can also stroll up the boardwalk to the old water tower.  If you are in great shape, you can follow the boardwalk on around and go down hundreds of steps to the spring head below, but most will want to drive around to the spring.

If you take your car around from the castle, you can park and hike a short way into the woods to see the Natural Bridge.  It is like a large cave room that is open on both ends.  Not really stroller friendly down there and be careful, the rocks can be slippery. But don't miss this site, it is awesome.  I have heard it is incredible in the winter with icicles hanging from it but I have never been brave enough to venture down there when it's icy.

Following the signs, take your car on around to the Spring walk.  There is a large parking lot here, a couple of shelter houses for picnics, and a boat dock.  Park your car and follow the walkway down alongside the water.  It is a very pretty walk along the spring that is very shady and nice all times of year. Keep an eye out for herons, turtles, ducks and muskrats.

Part way down the spring walk, you will see a little bridge going over the the island.  It is seen here in the Fall.  If you go over, prepare to hike up a lot of steps and over some pretty rock trails, but, you'll be rewarded on the other side with rushing water and unique sights.

If you stay straight on the boardwalk, you will eventually come out into a more open spot that is beautiful and then you will have to squeeze between two halves of a giant boulder, which is not stroller friendly, but you can lift the stroller through and on up to the spring head.

On your way out, don't miss the River Cave.  You can't go in it, but you can go down the stairs to the entrance and look in and feel how much colder it is than anywhere else.  As you can see, Ha Ha Tonka State Park is a beautiful and fascinating place.  I live near it and have gone there at all times of year and it is ever changing and ever gorgeous.