Ha Ha Tonka State Park Named Most Beautiful Place in Missouri


Ha Ha Tonka State Park: truly gorgeous. - FLICKR/HEATH CAJANDIG

Most Missourians have taken at least one weekend trip to the Lake of the Ozarks. While fewer have ventured to Ha Ha Tonka State Park (1491 State Highway D), the nearby destination was recently named the most beautiful spot in all of Missouri by Condé Nast Traveler.

The travel site compiled the 50 most beautiful places in all 50 states, with gorgeous photos to prove its point. Ha Ha Tonka is in good company: Glacier National Park and Lake Tahoe also made the grade.

Ha Ha Tonka, which attracts more than 520,000 visitors annually, is home to 14 hiking trails, a skeleton of a 20th century mansion, a number of sinkholes, bluffs and caves, a natural bridge and a spring that pumps out more than 48 million gallons of water every day. This large spring is the park’s namesake: Ha Ha Tonka is derived from the local Osage Native American phrase meaning “laughing waters.” Several years ago, the park also won the title of fourth-best state park in America by USA Today.

Photos of the park often focus on the remains of a castle-like building atop a tall bluff. The building has its own history, intended as a country escape for wealthy businessman Robert M. Snyder, who died before the project was completed. After it was finished in 1942, the building operated for years as a hotel.

Ha Ha Tonka State Park is accessible by both water and land, with endless opportunities for hiking, swimming, picnicking, boating, fishing and more. The park is open year round between 7 a.m. and dark.

Full of natural wonders, landscapes and wildlife, Ha Ha Tonka is the ideal destination for geologists and biologists of all levels. (Plus, admission is free!)

To learn more, check out the park's website.
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