Ha Ha Tonka State Park

Five fabulous fall drives

Hawn State Park has the reputation as being Missouri’s prettiest, especially in fall. Ed Schott can look out the window of his office and see why.
“There are lots of vibrant reds and yellows in the oaks and hickories, and we have one of the largest stands of shortleaf pines in the park system,” said Schott, who is the superintendent of the park in southeast Missouri.

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Drive through fall in our state parks

Hot tip: Fire's the secret to Ha Ha Tonka’s flowers

CAMDENTON, Mo. – Larry Webb is walking through a knee-high carpet of yellow, talking about fire. The yellow is a coneflower, Echinacea paradoxa, that is found only one place in the world, the open glades of the Ozarks.

The flowers are at their peak right now, Webb says. The field is a riot of colors, yellow flowers against green grasses. But there’s a catch: In order for  Echinacea paradoxa to thrive, the ecosystem around it needs to burn.

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The yellow is a coneflower, Echinacea paradoxa, that is found only one place in the world, the open glades of the Ozarks.

The ruins of a dream: Ha Ha Tonka’s castle

By Tom Uhlenbrock

Fire played a role in creating another of Ha Ha Tonka’s attractions, the ruins of Robert Snyder’s mansion. In the early 1900s, the wealthy Kansas City businessman purchased 5,000 acres that included a spring-fed lake.

He selected a site on the rocky summit above for his retirement home, saying, “I will fish and loaf and explore the caves of these hills, with no fear of intrusion.”

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Fire played a role in creating another of Ha Ha Tonka’s attractions, the ruins of Robert Snyder’s mansion.

Laughing waters: A hike to where Ha Ha Tonka got its name

In a karst landscape, mildly acidic groundwater moves through soluble bedrock, dissolving the limestone and dolomite into a subterranean maze of caves and fissures. Much of the Missouri Ozarks is karst, earning its nickname as the Cave State.

The first stop on a tour of the park led by Webb, the naturalist, was a natural bridge, where the trail led under a massive arch in the woods. He explained that the formation was caused by the collapse of a cave roof.

“Basically, that’s a sinkhole here and that’s a portion of the cave that did not collapse,” he said.

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In a karst landscape, mildly acidic groundwater moves through soluble bedrock, dissolving the limestone and dolomite into a subterranean maze of caves
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