Ha Ha Tonka State Park in Camdenton, Missouri
Although we only lived in Mo for a few mo. while finishing our education, my husband and I discovered a hidden gem away from the hustle and bustle of Branson and Kansas City. In the picturesque town of Camdenton, nestled within the ever changing beauty of the Ozark Mountains lies a gorgeous emerald of a park named "Ha Ha Tonka State Park".
"Ha Ha Tonka" is a Native American term for "Laughing Waters". This park is a spelunkers dream with it's unique caves, sinkholes, and karst formations. My family explored such phenomenally creative locations as the "Devil's Kitchen and Promenade", the "Whispering Dell" and the infamous "Standing Stones"--boulders that balance on top of each other securely unmoving yet you can clearly see the sky between the crevasses!
After slowly surmounting the ever winding, rusty staircase to the River Cave were amazed how much the temperature dropped and the ever dripping stalactites made my husband wonder what hellish Smeagol-like creatures crept with this Tolkein wonderland.
Most of the rock formations are covered with a mossy green mantle and lichens and dainty wild flowers peek around the corners of the miles of trails traversing the area. A good spot to explore is the castle ruins of a wealthy landowners' in the new park. Supposedly a fire destroyed it along time ago albeit a water tower on the premises.
There are also many other parks, caves and natural points of interest close by.Ha Ha Tonka state park is a wonderful place for a picnic with your family--educational too!http://mostateparks.com/hahatonka.htm