Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri is an outdoor lover’s dream. There are endless areas to explore the outdoors through water sports, hiking, swimming, cave touring and so much more. One of the best places to go and explore the splendor that nature has to offer in this area is Ha Ha Tonka State Park. Just a short drive outside of town, this vast wonderland of springs, caves, karst geology, trails and even castle ruins provides endless hours of fun and exploration for families.
Any visit to Ha Ha Tonka State Park should begin with a stop at the park’s visitor center. Here, you can view various preserved animal specimens on display, and pick up more information on what the park has to offer. The staff here is very knowledgeable, and are happy to answer questions.
As you drive down the main road of Ha Ha Tonka State Park, you will next come to the turn off for the castle ruins and natural bridge. The .40 mile Castle Trail leads you up a short paved trail to the remains of the castle built high upon a cliff face by Robert M. Snyder. In 1905, Snyder began construction of this elaborate mansion, but died before it could be completed. His sons later finished construction, but sadly the castle burned down in 1942. Today, the remains can be viewed and enjoyed by visiting families, with some amazing overlooks of the park too.
If you are looking to enjoy some of the karst geology withing the park, some prime examples can be seen along the Colosseum Trail. This .70 mile unpaved trail winds through the forest land, passing by the natural bridge, which spans 60 feet and is nearly 100 feet tall. Further exploration along the trail will lead you to a 150 foot sinkhole known as the Colosseum, which is the product of a cave collapse long ago.
The Spring Trail is a 1.5 mile long trail that leads you past the Ha Ha Tonka Spring, the 12th largest in the state of Missouri. On quiet cool Spring days, you can see an abundance of wildlife, including woodpeckers, ducks and muskrats, and here the babbling water for who some think the park is named. In warmer weather, you can enjoy swimming in the area. Regardless of the time of year, the blue water of this spring backed by the steep rock bluffs is a site to behold.
Ha Ha Tonka State Park is a place steeped in both geological and American history. Any visit to the Lake of the Ozarks would not be complete without a visit to this engaging outdoor playground.
Have you visited the Ozarks with your family? Would you add Ha Ha Tonka State Park to an upcoming summer vacation?