Saturday, July 6, 2013

A Day at Ha Ha Tonka

A little over two years ago, right before our first date, Tyler spent a day hiking at Ha Ha Tonka State Park, a couple hours from where we live. Ever since, he's been trying to go back and take me with him, but our schedules (and the weather) never seemed to cooperate. Thanks to an extra-long weekend, we finally had our chance last Wednesday.

Ha Ha Tonka was absolutely amazing. It combined five of my favorite things: hiking, nature, history, castles, and ridiculous names. We stopped by the visitor's center on the way home and snagged a book by the local historical society so we could read more about the story of the park. Here's the Cliff Notes version:  Robert Snyder bought Ha Ha Tonka  in the early 1900s as a place to escape from everyday life and began building a castle to retire in. He was killed in an automobile accident before it could be finished, but his sons continued his work. A fire in the 40's claimed all but the outer stone walls, which have been preserved, and sit like a skeleton high above the park. The ruins were were captivating; the rest of the park wasn't half bad, either. :)

This is a view from the lookout in front of the castle. On the left, you can see the water tower, which provided water to the castle and estate.

That last panoramic shot of the castle is my favorite. I would die to just spend a single night in there.

A closer view of the water tower. It was untouched by the fire that claimed the castle, but the inside was destroyed in the 70s by a fire lit by vandals (read: idiots that infuriate me. Mini-rant: I can't STAND to have history destroyed, particularly by people who have already had the chance to enjoy it for themselves. It feels very much like being robbed of something I love). The roof has been replaced, but the inside remains empty.

 After seeing the castle and water tower, we spent the rest of the day on the trails...and loved every minute. That sign up there didn't scare us away.

The spring at its source. That water is SO blue. I just wanted to jump in--springs are pretty much my favorite places to swim, cold water or not--but it definitely wasn't allowed.

View from near the spring. If you look REALLY closely, you can see the castle ruins peeking over the trees at the top.

We made a friend while we were there. This little muskrat swam right up close to us, ate some vegetation he had snagged, went back for more, and then came right back to us. We watched him for probably 15 minutes, talking normally, and he never spooked at all.

If it were legal, I would have taken this piece of wood home with me. 

We also saw giant bluffs....

...more views of the spring...

...and the old Ha Ha Tonka post office.

If you're a local, Ha Ha Tonka is well worth the trip. I grew up on the other side of the state and still felt a little robbed at having never been before. I can say with near 100% certainty that this won't be the last time we head up there for the day. As you probably noticed in one of the pictures above, I brought my film camera with me, so I'll be sharing those shots soon, too....just in case you aren't convinced yet. :)


  1. I love this place. It's been years since I visited! MO has plenty of little hidden gems.

  2. That piece of wood is beautiful! Hope everyone else is considerate and leaves it for others to enjoy. I've never been there and I think I need to go!


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