Where is Ha Ha Tonka State Park
Off of the Niguana arm of the Lake of the Ozarks, Ha Ha Tonka State Park resides entirely in Missouri. The US State Park is best known for the Ha Ha Tonka Ruins, but the park also contains other notable features such as caves, sinkholes, and natural bridges. Several impressive views of the Lake of the Ozarks are visible from within Ha Ha Tonka State Park. The park is located about 5 miles from the city of Camdenton, about 175 miles from St. Louis, and 160 miles from Kansas City.
How Big is Ha Ha Tonka State Park
Ha Ha Tonka State Park covers over 3,700 acres. A 70-acre portion of the park is designated and protected as the Ha Ha Tonka Karst Natural Area. The state park provides access to over 15 miles of hiking trail. These various trails lead to the park's many caves, sinkholes, and natural bridges. One trail also winds through the Ha Ha Castle Ruin area. The park is equally covered in hardwood forest and blanketed with rocky glades. The park also contains the Ha Ha Tonka Spring. The spring discharges 48 million gallons of water every day and is the 12th largest in the nation.
Ha Ha Tonka State Park Weather
The weather and climate of Ha Ha Tonka State Park varies throughout each of the seasons. The park’s hottest average temperatures appear in June, July, and August, and can approach 95 degrees Fahrenheit. The park’s coldest average temperatures approach 25-degree Fahrenheit and appear in December and January. Spring and falls in the park are quite nice. Springtime and fall high temperatures average between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Their lows average between 30 and 55-degree Fahrenheit. On average, Ha Ha Tonka State Park experiences 64 days of precipitation per year. Fall foliage appears in the bark starting in late September or early October.
When did Ha Ha Tonka become a State Park
In 1905, Robert McClure Synder, Sr. started to build the Ha Ha Tonka castle. The name he chose has since been said to mean “big laugh.” After Synder’s death in 1906, his sons finished the castle in the early 1920’s. The Missouri state government purchased the castle and surrounding area in 1978. The government immediately opened the land to the public and created Ha Ha Tonka State Park.
Things to do in Ha Ha Tonka State Park
Ha Ha Tonka State Park offers its visitors various opportunities to explore the great outdoors. The most popular adventures at Ha Ha Tonka State Park are listed below:
Ha Ha Tonka Castle
The premier attraction at Ha Ha Tonka State Park, the Ha Ha Tonka Castle was started in 1905 and finished in the 1920’s. The turn-of-the-century stone castle was modeled after prominent castles in Europe. Today, only part of the castle’s ruins is open to public access. In 2016, portions of the castle were inspected and deemed structurally unsound. However, visitors can still access the Castle trail and the lake overlook.
Ha Ha Tonka Spring
Access to the Ha Ha Tonka Spring can be achieved via the Spring Trail. This moderately difficult trail is a 1.4-mile loop that winds the shores of Ha Ha Tonka Spring and the Lake of the Ozarks. The trail is accessible year-round and allows hikers to be accompanied by their furry companions.
Devil’s Kitchen Trail
The Devil’s Kitchen Trail takes hikers through blooming fields of wildflowers, the chet dry woodland, and brings them face to face with the Devil’s Kitchen sinkhole. The Devil’s sinkhole is a small cave shelter and the result of karst topography.
Turkey Pen Hollow Trail
The Turkey Pen Hollow Trail is a 6.7-mile-long, moderately difficult hiking trail that passes through several distinct areas of Ha Ha Tonka State Park. The trail winds through woodlands, glades, rocky faults, and past the Lake of the Ozarks and an intermittent pond. The trail provides access to the park’s backcountry campsite area.
Oak Woodland Interpretive Trail
This paved trail is roughly 430 feet in length. The trail provides woodland access to visitors of all ages who possess various skill levels. The trail also features several interpretive panels that discuss the park’s history and geology.
Fishing in Ha Ha Tonka State Park
Ha Ha Tonka State Park grants visitors the opportunity to fish at several places on the Lake of the Ozarks. The park also contains its own fishing dock available for visitor access near the picnic area.
Kayaking at Ha Ha Tonka State Park
The park offers visitors the opportunity to explore the Lake of the Ozarks by kayak. Visitors to Ha Ha Tonka State Park may bring their own kayak with them or rent a kayak from the park. Kayak rentals are available from April through October.
Camping in Ha Ha Tonka State Park
The park has no drive-up campground or camp sites. The park does have a backcountry campsite located on the Turkey Pen Hollow trail.
When to visit Ha Ha Tonka State Park
List of Parks suggests all seasons which are perfect to visit Ha Ha Tonka State Park. In 2017, 540,000 individuals visited the park. Summer visitation is the most popular. During the season, hiking, fishing and kayaking are the most popular. Visitors who hope to experience Missouri’s fall foliage will want to visit the park in late September or early October. Ha Ha Tonka State Park and its trails rarely close due to winter weather. Though, it’s always best to stay updated on conditions during winter weather activity.
Must-Have Items to Bring to Ha Ha Tonka State Park
Every trip outdoors requires a little planning and packing. Our National Park Visitors Guide lists the most necessary items for your trip to Ha Ha Tonka State Park.
Water is always the most important item in a hiker’s bag and is extremely necessary for anyone looking to spend extended periods of time outdoors. Hikers and visitors looking to embark on the park’s longer hiking trails should bring extra.
Right behind water, energy filled snacks and food are also important items to remember on your trip. Beef jerky, trail mix, and dried fruit are great energy-filled snacks that are easy to enjoy on-the-go.
Most of Ha Ha Tonka State Park contains rocky and unstable terrain. A sturdy pair of hiking boots should accompany every visitor to the park. Look to invest in a waterproof pair for added comfort and protection.
Visitors looking to go fishing, kayaking, or swimming on their trip to Ha Ha Tonka State Park will want to remember their swimsuit. Sunscreen and sunglasses are also recommended for anyone planning to spend long periods of time on the water.
Layers of Clothing
Temperatures in Ha Ha Tonka State Park can vary depending on the season and time of day. Your activity levels will also dictate your body’s temperature. It is best to wear a series of lightweight layers that can be expelled or added at your will.
Ha Ha Tonka State Park features a variety of hiking trails. Several of these trails intersect other trails at various points. Therefore, a park trail map is recommended for any visitor looking to explore the park.
Where to Stay in Ha Ha Tonka State Park
Visitors looking to stay near Ha Ha Tonka State Park will want to check for hotels near Camdenton. Visitors looking to experience larger Missouri city will want to make the drive to Kansas City or St. Louis. Each city is about a three-hour drive away from the park. Camdenton, Kansas City, and St. Louis all are equipped with various lodging facilities and options.
Food Nearby Ha Ha Tonka State Park
Ha Ha Tonka State Park offers no in park dining options to its visitors. The closest restaurants and grocery stores to the park are located in Camdenton. The city is about 5 miles away from the park and offers visitors various places to eat and stock up on supplies. Cities such as Kansas City and St. Louis have a wider culinary scene but are also further away. Each city is about a three-hour drive away from the park.
Airports Near Ha Ha Tonka State Park
The closest airports to Ha Ha Tonka State Park are located in Kansas City and St. Louis. These airports are each about three hours away from the park. Each airport is equipped with rental car stations and other services that visitors can use to reach the park.