The state of Ohio offers a myriad of camping opportunities. In fact, the state parks alone offer over 9700 campsites across 57 campgrounds! And the cherry on top: lots of those opportunities are free or very affordable!
The majority of state parks are open year-round for camping! We are going to profile 21 places you can go for free camping in Ohio. Some of these sites will have paid camping and free primitive camping offered!
Another Tip for Free RV Camping or Boondocking
There are lots of places like Walmart, Cabelas, and Cracker Barrel in Ohio, and some of these allow free camping as well. This is for RVs and not tents, of course, but it can be an option to get you off the road or just enjoy an early night if you are traveling around the state.
1. Wayne National Forest
Wayne National Forest is a fabulous choice for free camping in Ohio, as it offers camping for free on many of the trailheads throughout the park. Depending on the type of camper you are, you may want to choose a trailhead that is close to amenities like RV parking or bathrooms.
Many of the more specific sites on this list will be located within the larger Wayne National Forest.
2. Ronsheim Campground
This campground in the Harrison State Forest has some free waste management services for trash, vault toilets, and even some hiking trails. The campground is highly accessible and the campsites are grassy and well-kept. A sedan can get to these campsites without an issue.
3. East Fork State Park
This 4870-acre public recreation area is home to many great campsites for free camping in Ohio, and as an added plus, it’s only 25 miles from Cincinnati! This park also offers access to Harsha Lake, which is a full-horsepower lake for all kinds of water recreation. This is a large scenic campground and has a ton of amenities.
There are a variety of free campsites.
4. Sawmill Road Campsite
Depending on the time of year, you’ll have access to 16 or 29 campsites in this Ohio free camping destination. This is a spacious stay on a well taken care of campground. The campsites are well-manicured and comfortable with plenty of amenities close by. The fishing at the camp is a great way to spend your time, too.
You need a permit but you do not need to spend any money on camping at Sawmill Road Campsite and you can stay for a maximum of 14 days.
5. Hidden Hollow Campground
Hidden Hollow offers 22 campsites on asphalt pads with a maximum 14-day stay. These sites are all completely free. Each site has a fire ring, picnic table, and trash can, which is pretty cool. The situation with human waste is another thing. There is no potable water, so you have to bring that with you; the toilets are pretty rough, too.
There are local gun ranges, so if the noise from those will bother you, this might not be the best choice for your Ohio free camping trip.
6. Sand Hollow
Sand Hollow is in the Jesse Edens State Park, right next door to the Sawmill Road site. However, this site for free camping in Ohio is a bit different than Sawmill. You’ll find it to be more austere. The sites are mostly situated near a pond, and the fishing is good there. However, the area does have some serious mosquito problems in the mid-summer to early fall months.
You can stay a maximum of 14 days. Trails are not very well kept, and the sites are best for tent camping because many are not level.
7. Woodgrove Campground
This ReCreation land off of County Rd 27 is a trailhead for the Buckeye Trail. It’s a fun little place for some Ohio free camping in the extreme southeast of the state. You’ll be able to spend your time hiking, biking, fishing, camping, or horseback riding. A permit is required for camping, but it is completely free. In fact, all the activities are free to the public.
There are 5 free sites at this smaller campground. They are first-come, first-serve. However, if you manage to snag a spot, you will have access to tables, water, and toilets.
8. Beaver Creek State Park
This Ohio free camping site boasts 6 spots that offer electricity. There are another 39 non-electric sites at Beaver Creek. Each site has a fire ring and a picnic table. Pets are permitted at this location. You will have access to pit toilets, but no shower house is available.
These sites are offered by reservation only.
There are also two Sherman cabins that are rustic locations without running water, but they do have electricity.
9. Hanging Rock
Hanging Rock is located in a remote area that will require some scouting before you head to your site for some free camping in Ohio. Scout ahead to assure accessibility to this location because is not guaranteed at all times. This particular campsite is really built around the 26 miles of dirt trails designed for driving off-road vehicles, hiking, and mountain bike use.
There is one campsite and it is set on a gravel pad. Hanging Rock holds a great distinction as it is one of the only campsites on this list that is designed for the use of off-road vehicles on its trails.
10. Harrison County SF
This Ohio free camping site has 15 spots that are all free to access. It sits at over 1000ft of elevation and is pretty austere. There are pit toilets available but you will not have a fire ring waiting for you. Bring a grate to use in the provided rock pits at each campsite.
You may see trail riders and horseback riders at this campsite but for the most part, it is a very quiet, simple, place to stay and camp for free.
11. Harrison State Forest
Harrison State Forest offers up 29 sites for free camping in Ohio to those who come to the state forest expecting to enjoy the camping. Two of those campsites have a fire ring, vault toilets, and picnic benches. At all campsites, you are going to need to bring your own water.
You’ll gain access to 20 miles of bridle trails here, and there is also a 100-yard shooting range. If you are not a fan of hearing gunshots, this option might not be the best for you.
12. Lamping Homestead
This Ohio free camping site gives you the chance to spend a few nights on the grounds of an 1800s homestead. This area is full of things to do and is completely free. There are 6 walkup campsites, eight picnic sites, and one picnic shelter.
This first-come-first-served basis campsite offers some great trails, a stocked pond, and the seclusion of a great campsite that was once the home of the Lamping family.
13. Mohican State Park
The Mohican State Park is full of campsites. This is a popular site with 100 electric sites, 51 full hookups, and 33 non-electric campsites. This state park has tons of creature comforts like showers, flush toilets, a camping convenience store, and a dump station.
You will also find a seasonal pool, playground, and nature venture at the state park to enhance your stay.
14. Prairie Grass TH
Prairie Grass Trail Head is a campsite for free camping in Ohio that’s built to service long-distance trail hikers. This means that the camping is free but exclusively primitive and grouped along with the trailhead. It’s nothing fancy. There are no drive-up options.
There is a restroom available at the trailhead.
15. Rocky Fork State Park
Featuring dolomite caves, wetlands, waterfalls, scenic trails, and a marina, this Ohio free camping site is not just for campers, but as a camper, you can take full advantage of all the amenities. The marina leads to a 2000-acre lake.
This is a full-service campground, and you will need to reserve your space earlier in the year. It can get very busy as the camping season closes in.
16. Ring Mill Campground
On the banks of the Little Muskingum River sits a campground that was once a mill and farmstead. This small location has 3 campsites and river access. There is also a picnic shelter available for use. This serene, small campground is historic and engaging. You’ll even have access to the North Country Trail.
17. Scloto Trail State Park
This 9000-acre sprawl is an incredible place to camp for free. There are electric sites and primitive sites across the area. For the primitive sites, you will have to contact Stewart Lake Camp Area and make reservations by calling (866) 644-6727. Fishing, paddling, and wildlife watching are all great activities in this secluded camping location. Of course, there are plenty of hiking trails, too.
18. Stone Church Trailhead
Free primitive camping is available at the trailhead, and there is ample parking for those who would like to take advantage of this. The trailhead is named for the stone church remains that still exist at that site. This site is filled with trails that travel through a number of different habitats.
These campsites cannot be reserved, so be sure to keep in mind that it is first-come, first-served.
19. Sycamore Lake Campground
Reservations between March 1st and October 31st will give you free access to the Sycamore Lake Campground. This campground offers 2 group campsites and is one of the best free group campsites available.
These group sites are massive! You can get 100 people on the Group A site and 40 people on the Group B site. There is also a barn location with a number of electrical hookups, a wood stove, and a stove for cooking.
20. Williams Campground
If you like ATVs and off-highway vehicles, then Williams Campground would be the campsite for you. You can only camp on developed campsites. The camp has a store, showers, bathrooms, and full hookup sites.
This location has 70+ miles of looping tracks for motorized trail vehicles.
21. Woodbury Wildlife Area
This is a wildlife area, so you will be surrounded by hunting, fishing, and shooting opportunities depending on the time of year you camp. There is an onsite shooting range, so you have to be aware of that. To get a free site, you are going to need valid hunting, fishing, or trapping licenses. There are 32 primitive sites available, and you will only be able to park 2 cars at each location. This is an outdoorsmen’s free camping location.
Wrapping Up Free Camping in Ohio
Free camping in Ohio is a great adventure for the entire family to go on without breaking the bank, and it offers fantastic flexibility and opportunities to explore the great outdoors. However, if you’re looking to camping expeditions in Ohio that are a bit on the fancier side, take a look at our list of 14 Gorgeous Spots To Go Glamping In Ohio!