Ohio is one of the most picturesque places to visit with miles and miles of uninhabited nature to explore. About ⅓ of the state is forest, so there’s a lot to see! And there’s no better nature-immersing experience than sleeping under the stars on an Ohio state parks camping trip!
Whether you like backcountry or amenity-filled camping, Ohio has it all depending on which state park you hunker down in. And each park offers hiking, fishing, swimming, and any other outdoor activity you can think of!
Keep reading to learn more about what to expect while camping at Ohio state parks and what to pack!
What to Expect When Visiting Ohio State Parks For a Camping Trip
There’s a lot to see and do when going for an Ohio state parks camping trip. To be fully prepared for the fun that lies ahead, you should know everything from the weather to the amenities. Collecting all of this knowledge ahead of time will help you pack.
How Many Ohio State Parks Are There?
There are 75 state parks within Ohio, and 60 of them offer camping. You can make reservations by visiting the Ohio State Parks & Watercraft website. Some popular places for Ohio state parks camping include:
- Alum Creek State Park
- Findley State Park
- Hocking Hills State Park
What’s the Weather Like?
The weather is a little mix of everything as the Buckeye State gets all four seasons! So there’s enjoyable weather for everyone.
While winter in Ohio can be beautiful with the falling snow, it can also be harsh and chilly.
The snowiest and coldest months tend to be January and February. So try to remember this if you plan on tent camping. RV or cabin camping might be best for these times as nighttime temperatures hover in the teens and 20s. You’ll definitely need heat. This frigid cold isn’t for Ohio state parks camping beginners, or most people for that matter.
Along with the cold in the wintertime, you can expect quite a bit of wind too. Wind doesn’t mesh well with tents, leading to constant adjusting and even poles breaking.
Spring is an excellent time for an Ohio state parks camping trip, as temperatures are mild and everything is blooming.
The springtime temperatures will be in the 50s and 60s, typically going down to the 40s at night. While the 40s might seem scary, they can be manageable with extra blankets and a campfire for most people. Rain is likely during the spring, so make sure you have a waterproof tent!
Visiting during the spring will also allow you to enjoy the local plants and blooming flowers. It’s the ideal time for outdoor fun without feeling frozen or sweaty.
As for the summer, the temperatures usually hover in the low 80s with night temperatures in the 50s and 60s. It also gets humid on top of these temperatures, making it feel much hotter than it actually is.
The hottest months are July and August when daytime temperatures can get into the upper 80s. Passing showers with a few all-day washouts here and there are possible.
If you don’t like the heat, find a state park near Lake Erie so you can swim! Geneva State Park and East Harbor State Park are nice options.
Fall is another mild, comfortable time for an Ohio state parks camping trip. It’s a beautiful time to visit as the leaves are changing into shades of red, orange, and yellow. But, like springtime, it can get a little cold during the nights. So, you might need some warm camping blankets.
Daytime temperatures in Ohio are usually in the 50s, but they can reach the 60s. Nighttime temperatures will typically be in the 40s, but might sometimes drop to the 30s.
What Animals Will You Encounter?
When camping in Ohio state parks, you’ll see tons of wildlife. But, don’t bother the animals in non-hunting areas, as that is their home.
Some animals you might encounter include the following:
- Squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, and other small animals
- White-tailed deer
- Raccoons and opossums
- Black bears, bobcats, and coyotes
- Birds like blue jays, crows, robins, and mourning doves
Don’t let the bears and other big animals scare you off from enjoying your camping trip! They don’t like being around people, so they’ll often keep to themselves.
What Accommodations and Amenities Do They Offer?
Ohio state parks camping sites offer a mix of amenities depending on what park you visit. Each Ohio state park’s campground usually offers multiple choices. Prices will reflect these options. The most common campsites include the following:
- Campsites with electric hookups
- Campsites without electric hookups
- Full-service campsites (water, sewage, and electric)
- Equestrian campsites
- Cabin campsites
- Tent-only campsites
If you have an RV for your Ohio state parks camping trip, you’ll most likely need the full-service campsites. But, if you’re tent camping, you can get away with your typical non-electric site. However, an electric hookup site can still be helpful for charging and using electronics.
The following campgrounds also offer free wifi:
- East Harbor
- Hueston Woods
- Grand Lake St. Mary’s
- Indian Lake
- South Bass Island
- Lake Loramie
- Rocky Fork
Each rentable campsite will typically come equipped with a parking area, a fire pit, and a picnic table.
Some other things you might find at Ohio state park camping areas include:
- Laundry facilities
- Filling and dumping stations
- Camp stores
- Playgrounds and ball courts
The majority of the campgrounds offer flushing toilets and showers. If you’re looking for park-specific amenities, you’ll need to check the campground’s website.
What Activities Are Available?
Each Ohio state park camping ground offers similar activities. While on your Ohio state parks camping trip, you can expect to do the following fun-filled nature adventures:
Hiking, Biking, and Birdwatching
It’s so refreshing to get out into the wilderness and watch the animals while also getting some exercise in.
Some great Ohio state parks for a scenic view of Ohio include:
- Caesar Creek State Park: There are a whopping 14 hiking trails within this park, including four near the campground. You’ll get to see beautiful waterfalls, lakeside views, and a chance to walk on a swinging bridge! There are also two mountain biking trails to explore.
- Hocking Hills State Park: This state park offers seven hiking trails. They are a mix of easy, moderate, and difficult to fit your experience. You’ll see waterfalls, caves, and get access to the swinging bridge.
- John Bryan State Park: There are 10 hiking trails and six biking trails available at this park. Some trails allow both activities. Within the park, you’ll experience creeks, a limestone gorge, and plenty of wildlife!
There are 18 state parks that allow horseback riding, along with accommodations for your large furry friend! Tar Hollow State Forest is a great place for trail rides, as there are a total of 33 miles worth of beautiful riding trails. Alum Creek State Park also has plenty of bridle trails, consisting of 38 miles!
Fishing, Kayaking, and Canoeing
If you’re looking for all things related to water, Alum Creek State Park is your best bet! It has little inlets, ponds, a lake, and even a marina. You can use boats and go fishing for species like bass and muskies!
You can go hunting in most of Ohio’s state parks, but you can only do it in designated areas. Lake Logan State Park is the perfect place for a mix of hunting animals, ranging from ducks to deer!
There’s some good news for people who want to bring their furry friends! All Ohio state parks camping areas are pet-friendly. But, there are some park rules you need to follow, including:
- Keeping your pet on a maximum leash length of six feet
- Physical proof that your pet received his/her rabies vaccine
- Cleaning up after your pet
Getting Ready For Your Camping Trip
Now that you know what to expect, you can start getting ready for your Ohio state parks camping trip!
How to Make Reservations
Making camping reservations at one of Ohio’s state parks is an easy process with technology. All you need to do is visit the reservation website and then pick your park and dates! You can also call (866) 644-6727 during daily business hours (7 AM-7 PM).
You’ll have to pay fees for all Ohio state park camping sites with one exception – Jesse Owens Park. These campgrounds are free because there aren’t any amenities (primitive camping).
What to Pack
Packing is highly dependent on the season you choose to go on your Ohio state parks camping trip. Use these ideas as a packing guide:
- Tent (if tent camping)
- Sleeping bags
- Camping cots
- Blankets and pillows
- Hand sanitizer
- First aid supplies
Along with these general camping essentials, you’ll need clothes, food, water, toiletries, and other everyday items.
Tips and Tricks to Keep in Mind
To make your Ohio state parks camping trip the best it can be, keep these tips and tricks in mind!
Always Put Safety First
Safety should always be your top priority! Most campgrounds have rangers and other workers around during the day that can help with small injuries. But, for larger ones, you’ll need to go outside the state park. It can also take a while for first responders to reach you, especially in remote areas.
To keep you and your traveling crew safe while camping in Ohio state parks, do the following:
- Keep first aid supplies with you in your tent and on hikes
- Keep an eye on the weather
- Always put your fire out before bed and never leave it unattended
- Protect yourself from the sun and bugs
- Store and cook your food correctly (there are about 48 million food poisoning cases per year)
Plan Out Your Meals
Most Ohio state park campgrounds only have small stores where you can buy snacks. You’ll most likely need to rely on your own supplies for meals. So, planning out your meals before your trip can be helpful. Check out our blog post on 21 budget-friendly camping meals for ideas!
This will help you pack everything you need, rather than just throwing random things in your cooler. It’ll also ensure that you have enough meals for each day of your Ohio state parks camping trip.
Picking the Perfect Campsite
Finding the right campsite for you depends on what you need. Do you have an RV or electrical travel appliances? Then you’ll need a spot with an electric hookup. Do you want showers? You’ll need to pick a campsite based on the parks that offer those.
Once you find the park you want, use the following tips when picking the right spot:
- Pick the right size, as you want your tent or RV to fit
- Try not to pick a site directly on the water, as the bugs will gather there
- Use a shady area, especially if you visit in the summer
- Stay away from dead and broken tree limbs
- If you have kids, find sites near playgrounds for easy watching
Book Your Ohio State Park Camping Trip!
The Buckeye State of Ohio is a breathtaking place with state parks scattered all over the place. Lake Eerie, waterfalls, thousands of miles of trails, and much more await you on your Ohio state parks camping trip. So research the 60 state park campgrounds and use this guide to help pick the perfect one!
Do you enjoy traveling to different states for camping trips? Check out our Best State Camping guides for more travel ideas!