My family has visited the Lake of the Ozarks my entire life. I practically grew up at that lake. Many times over the years I’d hear members of my family talking about going to Ha Ha Tonka State Park in Camdenton MO. Some how I was probably the only member of the family never to have visited! I finally went for the first time a couple years ago when I was pregnant with my daughter. It was amazing! We spent Labor Day weekend at the lake with my nephew and brother in law and knew they would love it as well.
History of Ha Ha Tonka:
This breathtaking state park is located at the Lake of the Ozarks in Camdenton, MO. The park features the stone ruins of a turn of the century castle built by a prominent Kansas City businessman. The castle was built on the top of a huge bluff. There is more than 15 miles of trails leading to sinkholes, natural bridges, caves, and down to the lake. Robert McClure Snyder purchased the land in 1904 but died 2 years later in one of the states first automobile accidents. His sons finished the castle. In 1942 the castle was destroyed by a fire, the carriage house also burned the same day. In 1976 the water tower was burned by vandals. It did not become a state park until 1978. The ruins are secured so you can safely enjoy your visit.
|A peak inside a window opening|
The first time we went we took the boat to get there and parked at the docks. We took the path and climbed the many stairs to the castle ruins. This time we took our car and actually parked at the top where the castle ruins are. If you don’t want to make the long trek from the top to the spring at the bottom, you can actually drive to the bottom and skip the long climb. We had decent weather this time but in the middle of the summer it gets really hot and the stairs are almost all in the sun.
|The Water Tower.|
Our original plan was to explore the castle ruins and then drive to the bottom. I couldn’t convince the rest of my group to walk down to the bottom so we were just gonna drive. My nephew started exploring though and wanted to see where a path led to so we decided to follow him. The path was a quarter mile I believe, mostly downhill, of course it took a lot longer because my little girl had to pick up every rock she saw! The path we took actually led to the boat docks on the other side of the lake so we just had to climb back up. In the woods were the ruins of natural greenhouses which was pretty neat looking.
|View of the lake from the castle grounds|
Hahatonka Spring is the 11th largest spring in the Ozarks and discharges an average of 49 million gallons of water per day. The water from the spring branch was dammed and used to power a mill. Boaters often anchor their boat and swim near the spring, but beware the water is FREEZING!!! I was only brave enough to stick a foot in.
|A view of the spring from above. We’ve seen beavers swimming there before.|
Reading up on the history of the Castle I learned about the caves and natural bridges, now I want to go back so I can actually explore them! We had spent a couple hours there and only explored near the castle. There is so much to do here it is wonderful.
So whether you’re a nature lover or more of an architect fan, this is a must-see place. The countless trails are fabulous for hiking. If hiking isn’t your thing, park at the top in the parking lot near the grounds and it is a short walk on a paved path to the ruins. Adults and kids alike love it there. If you are in the area be sure to drop by and make a day of it, they have camping nearby too! Be sure to bring some water to drink and a good pair of shoes and have fun!
You can learn more about Ha Ha Tonka State Park at MoStateParks!