Ha Ha Tonka is a Missouri state park located in Camdenton, MO on highway 54 at the Lake of the Ozarks. It is about 3 hours from Kansas City, depending on where you live in the city. Whether you are an outdoor enthusiast or a family looking for some bonding time away from the high tech world, Ha Ha Tonka is a great day trip!
Ha Ha Tonka was built around a castle that was built by a Kansas City businessman in 1905 and the 5,000 acres he purchased. The businessman died unexpectedly and the whole project stopped, but his son finished the project. In 1909 the Governor wanted it to become Missouri’s first state park but it did not become a state park until 1978.
The castle was used as a hotel but in 1942 there was a fire ruining the hotel. There was also a carriage house that burned down the same day and vandals burned the water tower in 1972. All that remains are ruins of old buildings.
Prior to it being purchased the caves that are located in the park was used by criminals as hideouts, around 1830. Daniel Boone and his son even trapped there for their fur business.
It has a number of unique geological features that keep people coming back to the park.
Ha Ha Tonka has a natural bridge that is over 100 feet in the air, is 60 feet long and is 70 feet wide. There is a sink hole that is 500 feet by 300 feet, but be careful it has extremely steep sides.
Also located in the park is a basin named Whispering Dell it is 150 feet deep. Located in the basin are 2 caves: Counterfeits Cave and Robbers Cave.
There is a spring that puts forth 58 million gallons of water a day, the twelfth largest in Missouri. Additionally there are tall bluffs that tower over it.
There is a woodland natural area which is combination of both prairie and forest environments. There are 2 self guided trails, one short and one large (7 miles) for backpackers.
Ha Ha Tonka even has a “glade” area which is like a desert. There you will find animals and plants that you would find in a desert, even large tarantulas!
Every year Ha Ha Tonka has an event in late October called Ha Ha Haunt and Ha Ha Tonka. It is free and open to everyone. The castle is lit up, there are games, and treat bags. This year this event will take place on October, 25th, 2013.
There are visitor friendly enhancements to the park. There are trails and other features that allow you to get up close and personal with the different unique features without danger.
A visitor’s center has maps and information about the park. Hours for the park are listed below:
Park Grounds and Visitor’s Center:
On Season (April-October) – 7 am to sunset, everyday
Off Season (November –March) – 8am to sunset, everyday
On Season (April-October) – 10am-5pm, everyday
Off Season (November-March) – closed
Ha Ha Tonka is located at 1491 State Road D, Camdenton Mo 65020. The park’s office number is (573)-346-2986, during off season hours the phone is only answered by an answering machine.