Nestled between the Great Lakes and the Appalachian Mountains, Ohio offers a plethora of unforgettable outdoor experiences. Beautiful Lake Erie beaches give way to caves, escarpments, and waterfalls, so if you’re looking to go camping in Ohio, you’re bound to find the perfect spot!
Starting in the northern tip of the state, bordering Lake Erie, campers will find serene beaches and natural coves full of picturesque summertime fun. Kelley’s Island State Park, a 677-acre park on the northern tip of the island, offers campers year-round adventure. Unique natural history and geographical features make Kelley’s Island an excellent choice for camping in Ohio’s unique Great Lake region.
East Harbor State Park, another camper’s haven along the shores of Lake Erie, offers opportunities for boating, fishing, 10 miles of hiking trails, and three boat ramps make this amazing campground the perfect spot for avid outdoorsmen and family campers alike.
South of Lake Erie, near the border of West Virginia, campers will find Ohio’s famous Hocking Hills area. Stunning cliffs and waterfalls, deep hemlock forests, and world-famous caves make this area one of the most popular for year-round camping in Ohio. The most well known cave in the Hocking Hills is Old Man’s Cave, so named for hermit Richard Rowe who lived in the cave for 30 years after settling in the area around 1800. The Old Man’s Cave area provides trails along a breath-taking gorge, which was carved 150 feet into the sandstone by the waters of Old Man’s Creek.
Campgrounds located in the Hocking Hills and Old Man’s Cave areas provide unique opportunities for waterfall hikes, climbing, and canoeing along the Hocking River. The geologically unique Hocking Hills region offers up some of the most beautiful natural beauty in the state and the country.
From pristine Great Lake beaches to the rugged beauty of the Appalachians, let The Dyrt help you find the best camping in Ohio!
We stayed for one night to get a start on our camping season for 2020. No one, let me repeat, no one was there but us and it was great! The electric sites are still on, no camp hosts and the vault toilets were very clean. Their camp store is closed for winter so you have to self register and the flush toilets are also closed. This was a new site for us and the pad wasn’t too off level. Leaves were all over which helped with any possibility of mud. This is a small campground with both electric and non-electric sites. There is also a 5 mile trail around the lake. Plus a mountain bike trail too.
You're learning to backpack the Buckeye Trail, and you want to know where and how you can camp along the trail. This primitive site is located a short hop (.17 mile) off the trail adjacent to Hipp's Lock, part of the old Miami-Erie Canal towpath. There's space enough for perhaps two tents, with metal fire ring, and plenty of deadfall for that small survival TV fire. The pond is filled with wildlife, and the tree frogs and bull frogs will lull you to sleep. Another Boy Scout project that benefits the Buckeye Trail. You'll need to Leave-No-Trace, as it's a primitive site, but it's a welcome respite from the road walking of this section.
You're learning to backpack the Buckeye Trail, and you want to take the first steps towards that without worrying about the physical load you're going to have to carry. You can drop the tent on this portion! This Adirondack shelter, located between Points 6 and 7 on the St. Mary's Section of the Buckeye Trail, is perfect for you. Built as an Eagle Scout project by Parker and Keaton Cole of Troop 95 (in Sidney), it is large enough for six or to sleep comfortably off the ground. You cannot miss it as you go along the trail. There is a fireplace (stone, make sure you check that the chimney is not blocked) large enough to cook your hotdogs and keep you happy as you sit in the shelter. There is deadfall from the trees around you that will serve as kindling and fuel for the fire. If you start in Lockington or Fort Loramie, this shelter is approximately 10 miles in and the right place to break a two-day backpacking trip.
Beautiful place, well kept, lots of sites overlooking the lake and a lot of shade. The island is pretty well known as a party island so we generally only camp here off-season now. There is a lot to see and explore like the caves, the monument in the world famous bars. The entire island is pretty rowdy during the summer so plan accordingly. We usually do kelleys island in the summer and Put-in-Bay in the offseason if we're headed this way. Wifey says the bathrooms were below average (most important for her).
Been going here my entire life. Amazing small town feel with cute shops, family activities, world's largest glacier groves, shallow beach and fun history. The park is always clean and we'll kept. A lot of shaded sites and waterfront sites that are right on the water. No city lights and being in the middle of the lake means lots of stars, the sounds of water and being so dark you can barely see. Awesome place to explore. Wifey says the bathrooms were above average (most important for her). HIGHLY recommend going at least once.
Beautiful scenery, very large park, fishing, boat rentals, man made beach, loooong floating boardwalk, lots of trails, unique sites and tons of history. It was very fun walking around while learning some of the very old and somewhat creepy history. The lodge/hotel is beautiful and very old. Very nice looking cabins arranged in a little community. The park is very well maintained, has a nice playground and cute camp store. A good amount of secluded and shaded sites. Really cool "hill" sites that you have to hike up or down 20-100 feet to your wooded site. Wifey says the bathrooms were below average, outdated and very buggy (most important for her).
Beautiful, large state park. Unfortunately the entire beach is literally gone due to lake Erie being roughly 3 feet high (usually a massive beach). The campsites are average size but the park is very clean and family friendly. Being a higher traffic park, a lot of sites had mud with straw from the grass not being able to grow where your camper door is. When booking make sure you check pictures or Google maps. A lot of sites have zero shade and are basically in a large field. We prefer shade and the more private sites. Wifey says the bathrooms were above average (most important for her).
The most well kept, private, beautiful campground I've been to so far. I've been a camper my whole life but a year ago the wife and I purchased a new camper with the goal of seeing a new campground each time we camped. This campground was recommended by a co-worker for how private each site is. We were truly amazed at the park, the HUGE beach on lake Erie, the inland Beach, the 2-mile boardwalk through the wetlands, the Big Hill, and the nature center. Highly recommend. Wifey says the bathrooms were Excellent (most important for her).
Honestly this is a really solid camp ground and my partner and I stayed for about a week. We were able to camp right by the lake. The trails are great for hiking and some more intermediate mountain biking. And there are boat rentals of many different types. All and all a great camp ground with lots of activities and hiking to be had.
Great little campground. My wife and I spent a month out there in a fifth wheel to see if we like the lifestyle. Very nice pool(clean). Great walking trail back through the woods. Pet friendly and the bathrooms were very nice. Well….I guess we did! We are now in a search for a Diesel pusher to go full-time!
We stayed for one night only on our way to Dreher Island SP. We didn't get in until after 4 pm, but there was still enough daylight to see how pretty the campground was. We had site 60 for the night. We tow a 19' a-frame camper with a Toyota Tacoma and had lots of room on the pad. The pad was pretty level so set up was easy. The site also had a huge area for the picnic table and the fire ring is far away from your camper. There was a huge grassy area behind our site with a creek, lots of space for our dog. We were in campground B (electric) and the sites were decent. There wasn't a lot shade for us, but up in the tent area they were surrounded by trees and it looked like they all had tent pads, some better than others. The shower house was nice, clean, flush toilets, and good showers. By the shower house they also had an outside sink to wash your dishes. We didn't get to hike, but everyone said we should if we ever go back. It's on our list to visit again.
This is a nice state park with a ton of sites. We were there in late October and it was super quiet. There weren’t many people around at all which was kinda nice. They do have an awesome laundry facility with commercial washers. I definitely took advantage of that. There are basketball courts, playgrounds, a disc golf course, mountain biking trails, hiking trails– you name it! Tons of amenities here and the facilities are really nice. The nearby town of Zanesville has a lot of stores too if you need anything.
We chose this park because it was the closest one we could find that was still open with electric this time of year to downtown Pittsburgh. Also, because it had great cell/internet service on our hotspots and had a lot of trails. Unfortunately, it had been raining a lot so we weren’t able to explore the trails. The campground is nice– the toilets are just pit toilets and they do have a sun shower. They are on a well so there is limited water and they don’t allow you to fill up your on board tank. Make sure you fill up before you go! Also, there is a road in the park (Echo Dell Road) that RV’s/Trailers can’t go on so make sure you approach this campground from Leslie Road!
Hueston Woods State Park, Oh.
Campground Overview: Hueston Woods State Park is very close to Miami University…in the Southwest area of Ohio. The direction we traveled from the south took us on numerous winding country lanes through farm country that actually meandered in and out of Indiana and Ohio.
(Disclaimer: I am a tent camper, preferring backcountry sites of solitude and privacy…so take my reviews of campgrounds with a grain of salt).
The campground area is separated not only by roadway, but a short walk, ride or drive from the reservoir, docks, boat rental beach area and tiny nature center.
The Campground Office sits at the campground entrance and does offer quite a bit of camping items for its tiny size should you have forgotten anything. The cabins and lodge are on the opposite bank of the reservoir. The tent site area was sparsely occupied and the particular area was empty that I chose.
All campground sites are line of sight, no barriers or buffer between neighbors(something I do not enjoy)…the trees are mature and tall so offer no privacy. Noise/sound travels so when full, you’ll likely hear your neighbors conversations.
Unknowingly, it appeared every weekend in October has a big Halloween emphasis, so the upper campground was sold out. I was advised the lower non electric loop would also be sold out…which reinforced my gratefulness for midweek camping.
With the vast old growth forests, dried/dead branches for firewood was plentiful for a chilly night(38) fire. We evaded the impending rain for once and pressed on. Weekend campers experienced heavy storms as we left.
There are several hiking trails and biking trails. Streams were dried up at our visit. A cool restoration covered bridge was a short hop from the campground. The lodge has a restaurant, a gift shop, an outside pool and a nicely equipped activity room for older kids complete with numerous arcade games, pool table, and ping-pong table. There is also a token tiny exercise center-Key card entrance for lodge stayers. The A-frame lodge, though nostalgic, needs some TLC and updating(especially the exterior).
Traffic noise is noticeable, especially during quiet hours. While not excessive, it’s disruptive.
Deer sighting were plentiful as were chattering tree rats…ahem, squirrels, sorry. Woodpeckers stayed busy overhead. At dusk an overly friendly“masked trash panda” encroached seeking to share my delectable and perfectly toasted s’more…having to be chased off(unfortunately, it appeared he has been fed by campers to be that bold). Other small birds were plentiful as were migrating Canadian honkers.
Housekeeping notes: In the larger non-electric loop newer restrooms existed…modern bathrooms and showers were clean and stocked with TP. No paper towels offered, only electric hand dryers. Bathroom stalls, like the showers, utilized shower curtains rather than lockable doors. In my tent area…antiquated wood shed pit latrines…that truly needed razed.
I did not have time to walk any trails, but talked with mountain bikers that spoke favorably. There were several marked trails near the reservoir area.
Final Thoughts: It was a nice choice for a stop-over as I drifted north. However, I would not want to stay when it’s busy or on the weekends. The reservoir beach and watercraft fishing appears a big draw…and I wish I had brought both my bicycle and canoe.
Hocking Hills State Park, Oh-Site 89. https://thehockinghills.org/
Hocking Hills State Park offers close proximity to most of the popular natural attractions…Old Man’s Cave, Ash Cave, Cantwell Cliffs, etc….but for a tent camper that prefers solitude and space, I found it unappealing.
I did arrive late on a Monday evening, mid-October and got one of the last available sites. Packed on a Monday night!
I found the camping sites a bit cramped both in depth and width. Site 89 and 90 shared the same parking pad. Limited flat locations existed for a tent and my tent footprint is fairly small. You do have a firepit and picnic table with all three in fairly close proximity, so you must be extremely cautious with wind direction when deciding for a fire, else you’ll have embers dotting your tent and picnic table. Even though the neighbors were trying to be respectfully quiet…you heard every conversation and saw their every move.
No electric, which is fine in my book…the water spigot is centrally located on the loop and happened to be next to my site.
The restroom/shower facilities were not well cared for upon my visit. The floors were very muddy and trash was piled up in the corner of one stall and out of necessities.
Construction and dump truck noise started early with a project behind the restrooms.
The visitor’s center was well-stocked and the employee was pleasant. Cell service is unavailable and even sketchy at the visitor’s center. Wood can be purchased at the visitor’s center.
Close proximity to local attractions and a swimming pool are likely the big draw.
Knowing that I prefer solitude and distance when camping, I’ll likely not return but choose nearby Lake Hope State Park for my local visits.
This was our second weekend in a row coming to this campground, but this time we are in non-electric. We scoped out the site ahead of time and although not our first or second pick, the site turned out to be very nice. It's has a site right behind it, but has a nice size green space for an ez-up. The pad was a nice length and held our small camper and truck with room to spare. The closest bathroom was the handicap porta-potty, but a little further up you use the flush toilets. (no showers) The campground had at least 2 camp hosts and a small camp store. We walked down to the lake. If you like to fish, it's a short walk. This site is further away from the playground, but close to a trail head. We did have a small furry visitor - a very friendly orange cat.
We visited the campground before we picked a site. We chose site #56 which had electric. It's one of the best sites we found there for it's size, shade and privacy. We set up our camper and our ez-up tent which enclosed our fire ring. There was also a path directly from our site that led to one of the hiking trails. Yay for us and our easy access; however, it also welcomed people to cut through your site. So we put up some flagging tape along the edge of the trail to discourage people and mountain bikers from cutting through our site and using the actual trailhead. We have dogs and the was big enough to walk them around and let them stretch their legs. The campground is pretty small with both electric and non-electric sites. There are two drop toilets next to the playground which were kept clean. In the non-electric area they had porta-potties, but just a short walk away there are two flush toilets. The campground is next to a lake which has a 5 mile loop for both hiking and mountain biking. The lake has a small beach area where you can take your dogs. We liked it so much we booked it again for the following weekend in non-electric.
Ranger Review: Morsel Spork at Pike Lake State Park
We stayed at site 67 next to the camp host. The camp site was nicely shaded with a small creek behind it. We had a lot of shade and didn't feel like we were on top of our neighbors. Not all the sites were as spacious as ours so be careful which one you choose. In fact, there was one so small, I'm not sure where a tent would go…maybe plan on sleeping in your vehicle? The campground has drop toilets in a few spots (very clean) and up front they had a great shower house. There were four in total that had the toilet and shower all in one. There are baby changing stations in each of them as well. They were kept nice and clean. We walked up to the camp store which had a ton of items. If you forgot to bring it, they probably had it. There are two playgrounds, one in the campground and one right across the way. There is a small pond/lake that has a beach you can kayak or canoe and fish (renting them is an option). We like to hike and there were plenty of trails to follow. Some of the trails are horse and some are not. There is no cell phone service - we didn't get service until we were on our hike on top of the hill. We will definitely go back again.
As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time- today I am testing the Morsel Spork and Morsel XL. I was able to get 4 products. I ordered 2 Morsel Sporks and 2 Morsel XL. I got green (my favorite color) and my husband got blue. They stay in our kitchen box that we use for camping. For dinner we had a salad and mashed potatoes with Backpackers Shepherd Pie. The fork part of the spork was used for the salad and did just fine. I then used the spoon part of the spork to scrape up the small leftovers (cheese, crouton crumbs, etc.), it cleaned up really well. My husband was able to use the XL Spork to stir in the Backpackers bag, and guess what? It reached the bottom without his hand having to go deep inside to reach the bottom. The rubber edge on the spoon part is like having your own little spatula to make sure you get every last piece of your food. In the morning we had Biscuits and Gravy (in a bag) and again we used the XL Spork and ate right out of the bag instead of dirtying more dishes. They are dishwasher safe, but as my husband tells you, it's clean…I just licked everything off.
I'd recommend getting a Morsel Spork - find the size you need, they have a few to choose from.
Cabin 701- We just returned home after a weekend of camping at Dayton KOA. Overall the programming and common facilities were nice. However once arriving we were very unhappy with the cleanliness of the cabin. The cabin smelled of rotten food as soon as we opened the door. There was rotten food in the fridge and in the sink. There was food, like popcorn which is very visible, on the table and window ledges. Nothing has been wiped down and there was dog hair all over the floors. I spent an hour cleaning the cabin with my limited supplies before I would even let my daughter in. In addition the plates and cups were filthy as well. This was our vacation so its disappointing to spend so much time cleaning just to get to enjoy ourselves. Its very apparent the cabin had not really been cleaned all year based off the amount of dirt stuck along the base boards and on the cabinets. I fully acknowledge that we were staying in a cabin and by no means except it to be spotless however for$240 a night I do except that the the rotten food be removed from fridge and sink and the surfaces be wiped down and the floor swept. Someone had came into the cabin since the last guest and changed linens so that was at least good. In addition the thermostates batteries were corroded and needed to be replaced which a maintenance person did bring us so we do appreciate that. In addition the door did not stay shut and after working on it I was able to resolve that issue. Growing up we always stayed at KOAs because they are known for their cleanliness. This is my first time at the Dayton KOA and I am disappointed in the cleanliness. I hope this email will help the management of this KOA step up their game and take care of their facilities.**Update- I received a blanket statement from corporate saying I'd have to work out my concerns with local KOA, Local KOA was contacted first and have never heard back from them.
Ok small sites you got that from the title. Small park, very small however we loved it. Our site had a deck right behind the camping pad because the site has a descent slope. The fire pit was down the slope which was cool being out of site from walkers. Hiking trails very well maintained (only saw 3 pieces of trash while hiking, we picked up the garbage) Bathrooms clean and nice showers. We went Friday-Sunday would do again for a short weekend. President Harding’s house and tomb close by also a few wineries.
This is a smaller state park. There is a lake (one of the smallest I've seen in a state park), some trails and a small campground. The spaces are pretty spread out, which is very nice. There is a big equestrian camping area, which is cool. If you kayak, you could spend about two hours exploring the different bends in the lake.
We stayed in the camper cabins, which are right at the edge of the campground- we could hear the freeway (I-70) the entire time. It even woke us up at night. The cabins have a view of the dumpsters and the dump station- not the prettiest view.
There are pit toilets, which are never great, but the ones nearest us had newish buildings, the first I've seen in Ohio state parks. The buildings themselves were clean, but the toilets were icky and needed to be hosed down. I never went in the shower house so I don't know if it was clean or not.
The worst part about our experience was that there was a group of cows somewhere nearby that were moaning in distress all of Saturday, Saturday night and Sunday morning. I enjoy agricultural sounds- the sound of a cow mooing every once in a while would make me happy. But these cows were bleating and moaning as if they were in danger. When it continued after sundown, I started worrying about them, so I googled it. It turns out that in the mid fall (when we were there), calves get taken away from their mothers, and the mothers will cry out in distress for days at a time. I wish I hadn't googled it. The sound was SO LOUD and so distressing. It drowned out any sound of owls or coyotes or anything else all night long- these cows were deafening.
So, I won't be back. Not much to do there once you've seen it, unless you camp with your horses- then I think it would be good.
When the campgrounds in the National Park were filled and I needed a place to land for the night, I ended up at Heritage Farms in a sunny shelter with a beautiful landscape of growing Christmas trees and gorgeous sunset. The shelter was clean, had a picnic table, and trash can. Porta johns were available, though not very close. It was a bit more expensive than many campgrounds at $35 per night but I was so happy and comfortable there that I thought it was worth it.
My husband and I went on the Blue biking trail and mud lick trail on separate visits. The biking trail was very open for walkers still! It went through types of scenery and was extremely peaceful. The Mud Lick trail was a little overgrown and the trail was a little harder to find but we still though it was spectacular. The views of the lake were so beautiful!
The site sits up on a ridge overlooking the scenic railroad. Not extremely private. You can see a parking lot and hikers walking by at the bottom. Being higher up on the ridge helped make it feel a bit more secluded. There’s a big container fire chamber, bathrooms and water down at the bottom. Overall we really enjoyed, would be back.