The Missouri State Park System will be turning 106 in 2023.

The Missouri State Park system was established in 1917, when the state of Missouri acquired Ha Ha Tonka State Park. In the following years, the state park system expanded to include a variety of natural, cultural, and recreational resources, such as forests, lakes, caves, and historic sites.

Ha Ha Tonka State Park is a state park located in central Missouri, in the Ozark Mountains. It covers more than 3,700 acres and is home to a variety of natural features, including a spring-fed lake, towering cliffs, and several natural bridges.

One of the main attractions at Ha Ha Tonka State Park is the Ha Ha Tonka Castle, which is a partially completed stone mansion that was built in the early 1900s. The castle is a popular spot for visitors to explore and offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

Shawn Kober Photography

In addition to the castle, the park also has a number of hiking trails that wind through the woods and along the lake. These trails offer a chance to see a variety of plants and animals, including deer, turkey, and a variety of bird species.

The park also has a number of amenities for visitors, including a campground, a beach, and a playground. There are also several picnic areas where visitors can enjoy a meal while taking in the beautiful surroundings.

In the 1930s, the state park system was expanded further with the acquisition of several state forests, including Mark Twain State Forest and Current River State Forest. These state forests were established to protect and manage the state’s natural resources, including timber, wildlife, and recreational opportunities.

Over the years, the Missouri State Park system has grown to include more than 100 state parks and historic sites, covering over 200,000 acres of land. Today, the state park system is managed by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, which is responsible for preserving and protecting these important resources for the enjoyment of future generations.

The Missouri State Park system is primarily funded through a combination of state appropriations, federal grants, and revenue generated from park user fees. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources, which manages the state park system, receives an annual appropriation from the state legislature to fund park operations and maintenance. This funding is used for a variety of purposes, including park staff salaries, facilities maintenance and repair, and the development of new park amenities.

In addition to state funding, the Missouri State Park system also receives federal grants from agencies such as the National Park Service and the US Forest Service. These grants are typically awarded for specific projects or initiatives within the state park system, such as the development of new trails or the restoration of historic structures.

Missouri State Parks offer a wide range of recreational and educational opportunities for visitors. Some of the things you may find in Missouri state parks include:

  1. Natural resources: Many Missouri state parks are located in areas with unique and diverse natural habitats, such as forests, prairies, lakes, and caves. Visitors can enjoy hiking, fishing, birdwatching, and other outdoor activities in these natural areas.
  2. Cultural and historical resources: Missouri state parks also preserve and interpret the state’s cultural and historical heritage. Some state parks feature historic sites, such as preserved homesteads, battlefields, and museums, which provide insight into the state’s past.
  3. Recreational facilities: Many Missouri state parks offer a range of recreational facilities and amenities, including campsites, cabins, picnic areas, playgrounds, and boat launches. Visitors can enjoy activities such as camping, boating, swimming, and picnicking in these facilities.
  4. Educational programs: Missouri state parks often offer educational programs and events for visitors of all ages. These programs may include guided tours, nature walks, workshops, and other activities that help visitors learn about the state’s natural and cultural resources.

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