The 15 Best Places to Camp in Ohio

A meadow in Whips Ledges, Hinkley, Ohio/

Ohio offers a beautiful and varied landscape, from tall stony mountains to deep forested valleys, and this makes it an excellent camping destination. With different scenery for every taste, everyone can find their perfect camping spot in Ohio. If you’re looking for scenic vistas, historical sites, natural attractions, or fun daytime activities, there’s a park or campground in Ohio that can make your dream camping trip a reality. 

Located in Ohio, the Cuyahoga Valley National Park offers a massive 33,000 acres of land, and with the rest of the state filled with other amazing camping spots, the options can seem overwhelming. The Buckeye State is also home to two National Historic Parks, three National Wildlife Refuges, and an impressive 83 different state parks. To help you find the perfect destination for your Ohio camping trip, we’ve compiled a list of places you can check out for some of the very best camping in Ohio. 

 

A waterfall in Ohio.

Ohio has been known to have some of the best camping spots in the U.S.

 

1. Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Cuyahoga Valley has to be the first location on our list. Home to an excellent selection of hiking and mountain biking trails, this National Park has over 125 miles to explore. One attraction of this park is the Scenic Railroad, the only non-profit heritage railroad operating in a National Park in the country. This excursion takes you all the way through the park on a three and a half hour round trip, so you can see all the beauty Cuyahoga Valley has to offer. 

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is also home to the towering Brandywine Falls. This 65-foot waterfall is accessible from 1.5 mile Brandywine Gorge Trail, and in the spring here you can see breeding salamanders. This park features plenty of campgrounds to pitch your tent, with a variety of amenities. 

2. Beaver Creek

Located right at the bottom of the Appalachian Mountains, Beaver Creek offers 2,722 acres of beautiful and rugged landscape. In the summer, mild weather and scenic woodland hikes attract plenty of visitors, while in wintertime sledding is popular as well as other snowy activities. Nearby, an abandoned pioneer village provides a little historical culture to your camping getaway. Located in East Liverpool, Ohio, this forested park is the perfect family hiker destination. Beaver Creek Campground offers a selection of sites with electric hookups, and even equestrian camping.

3. Blue Rock State Park 

Named after its abundance of mineral deposits, Blue Rock State Park features rugged hills and rich green forests. You can enjoy southeast Ohio’s diverse flora and fauna from this 4579-acre State Forest. If you’re looking to get back to nature, Blue Rock Campground offers a large number of rugged tent sites throughout, so you can enjoy some solitude and take in the natural scenery straight from your campsite. This is a great location for fishing and hunting, as well as featuring volleyball and basketball courts within walking distance. There are lots of other activities available, including a 10.4-mile trail loop for hiking, running, and horses.

 

A bee on a flower.

One of the best times to visit Ohio is in the spring when the flowers are in bloom.

 

4. Alum Creek State Park

Just outside of Columbus, this 4630-acre park features rolling fields and scenic woodlands. The Alum Creek reservoir offers boating, fishing, and swimming, making a great weekend destination, perfect for picnics.

There are plenty of trails for hiking, biking, and even equestrians in Alum Creek State Park, one of which is the Hollenback Hiking Trail. This is a very pleasant 6.7-mile trail, passing through the woods and offering great views along the lake. 

A campers beach can be found at the Alum Creek Campground, so we wholeheartedly recommend this destination as a scenic weekend getaway. There are 24 campsites with full hookups and plenty of amenities, and there are lots of activities on offer for the kids. 

5. Dillon State Park

In Muskingum County, Dillon State Park offers a huge range of outdoor activities. An impressive 2285 acres hold scenic trails for mountain biking and hiking, as well as stunning settings for camping, fishing, boating, and picnics. Other activities available include archery, tennis, kayaking and more, so you’ll never be bored in this beautiful state park. 

A 1360-foot swimming beach is located just by the park office, and if you go boating there’s plenty of secluded and picturesque coves to discover. A relatively small 10 miles of hiking trails are contained within the park, but what they lack in size they make up for in beauty. At only three-quarters of a mile long, the Ruffled Grouse Nature Trail can show you the varied habitats of the area. 

6. Mohican State Park

As one of the most scenic and naturally beautiful areas in Ohio, Mohican State Park and the adjacent State Forest is definitely worth a visit. When it comes to hiking trails, the Lyons Falls trail follows Clear Fork Gorge and passes by not one but two waterfalls, so we recommend checking this one out for some breathtaking scenery. Mohican State Park is 1110 acres, on the shores of Pleasant Hill Lake, and is surrounded by the 4525 acres of Mohican-Memorial State Forest. This leaves you with more than 5000 acres to explore! 

The Mohican River Flows straight through, creating a narrow gorge featuring some spectacular natural scenery. Open year-round, this park is filled with activities and has plenty of campsites with and without hookups and amenities. The campground even boasts a huge Olympic-sized swimming pool, so there’s something for every member of the family. 

 

A stream in Ohio.

Ohio is also home to many rivers and streams which make it great for fishing.

 

 

7. Geneva State Park

Lake Erie, one of the Great Lakes in Ohio, offers an amazing destination for a waterside getaway. Located on Lake Erie’s shores, Geneva State Park offers tent-friendly lakeside camping. A great destination for anglers, there’s an in-park boat launch and fish cleaning station, as Lake Erie offers excellent fishing for largemouth bass, rainbow trout, and much much more. If you’re an avid bass angler or thinking about trying it out on your camping trip to Lake Erie, check out our article on the best time of year to fish for bass so you can plan your trip perfectly. 

For camping in the area, there’s a full facility campground offering shaded sites in a hardwood forest, as well as sunny sites in open meadows. This makes for a very scenic selection of campsites, so you’ll be able to find the best spot depending on the time of year. Along the shoreline of Lake Erie, a 300-foot swimming beach can be found, and the entire park overlooks the lake with access to the water at various points. 

8. Hocking Hills State Park

Just south of Lancaster, Hocking Hills encompasses more than 2000 acres of pristine wilderness. Here there are 25 miles of hiking trails, featuring rock formations, waterfalls, and recess caves. Campers can enjoy the Riverside Campground which overlooks the Hocking River, offering 80 spacious primitive campsites.

This is the perfect getaway destination for those looking to spend some time in the tranquility of nature without actually going primitive camping. While the campsites are secluded, there are showers, toilets, and other amenities just a short walk away. 

For those visiting with kids, or looking for some exciting activities, Hocking Hills State Park has areas containing a games arcade, mini-golf, and go-karting. Lake Logan is located within the state park, offering boating and swimming, and Rose Lake is also nearby. 

9. Kelleys Island State Park

Kelleys Island, also known as Lake Erie’s Emerald Isle, is a prime destination for nature lovers and adventurers. Kelleys Island State Park takes up almost all of the northern third of the island and features a campground with electric and non-electric campsites. Hiking and biking trails can take you through a variety of landscapes throughout, and just outside the park, the Glacial Grooves offer an amazing sightseeing opportunity.

These are the largest and most easily-accessible example of this geological phenomenon anywhere in the world, so they’re a must-see in our opinion. Created by the slow movement of the huge glacier which created the Great Lakes, this popular tourist attraction is 400 feet long, 35 feet wide, and goes up to 15 feet deep!

Our favorite trail in Kelleys Island is the North Shore Loop, 2.2 miles of scenic trail which packs in views of the lake, wooded paths, rocky flats, and even a small beach. Other than hiking, Kelleys Island State Park offers an amphitheater, boat launching ramp for fishing, and a children’s playground. 

 

A field in Ohio.

Ohio is also home to many hiking trails which makes it perfect for trekking and camping.

 

10. Shawnee State Park 

Just in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, and right by the Ohio River, Shawnee State Park and the surrounding State Forest offer more than 60,000 acres of nature to explore. This region is filled with beautiful landscapes, including erosion-carved valleys and wooded hills.

As one of the most picturesque areas in the state of Ohio, this region earned the nickname “the Little Smokies”. In the State Park, there’s a campground with electric and non-electric sites, fully equipped with amenities such as restrooms, picnic tables, and fire rings. 

From Shawnee State Park, you can hike the hardwood forest and see abundant wildflowers, including several rare orchids. The Shawnee Backpackers Trail offers 18 miles of difficult terrain, perfect for the experienced hiker looking for a challenge. This trail is not for the faint of heart, but if you’re up to the task, beautiful views and lush forested pathways are your rewards. 

11. Indian Lake State Park

For bird-watching campers, Indian Lake is the perfect camping destination. The lake lies on one of the country’s major avian migration routes, which means you can see swarms of Canada geese, ducks, grebes, swans, egrets and herons. Many birds stay over the summer to nest, so if you’re camping nearby it’s a great opportunity for some chick sightings. 

Along the northwest section of the lakeshore, there are a massive 443 campsites available, for tent camping and trailers. The scenic campground offers electric hookups for most sites, as well as restrooms, showers, laundry facilities and more. There are even 20 boat camping spaces, and a beach, boat ramp, and docks are there for exclusive camper use. 

12. John Bryan State Park

This 752-acre Ohio state park is one of the best in the western part of the state. John Bryan State Park is set around the breathtaking Clifton Gorge, which is a deep chasm cut of the Little Miami River. It’s set between Yellow Springs and Clifton, with a portion of the gorge itself designated as a National Natural Landmark. Large limestone rock formations have been created here by the river’s erosion, so this park is popular year-round with rock climbers and bouldering enthusiasts. Hikers will find no shortage of well-maintained trails, which will take you around all you need to see in the most scenic park in western Ohio. 

Tent campers will find 61 campsites to choose from, all but 9 are non-electric sites, and there’s space for RV campers too. Restrooms, a dump station, and other amenities are available in the campground, except during off-season. There are fire circles and picnic tables too, and for those less interested in nature and more interested in the activities, John Bryan State Park is home to an 18-hole disc-golf course. 

 

A man rock climbing in Ohio.

If you’re passionate about rock climbing, then Ohio has you covered there as well.

 

 

13. Burr Oak State Park

Just a few miles from the sprawling Wayne National Forest, Burr Oak State Park offers some of the best camping in Ohio. Over 2500 acres of woods and valleys make up this beautiful park, and it’s quiet and remote location gives it a rustic country charm.

This is one of Ohio’s resort parks, as it offers a wide variety of accommodations, mixing wilderness with convenience. If you want to see some of the varied wildlife and forested ridges of southeast Ohio without leaving behind the conveniences you’re used to, Burr Oak State Park is a great choice. 

The campground offers 90 non-electric sites, with showers, restrooms, and a dump station. If you don’t feel like tent camping this time, a lodge overlooks the lake from the east, offering full amenities. 

14. Lake Hope State Park

Inside the Zaleski State Forest, Lake Hope State Park is a tent and RV campground. In this area, you can explore an abandoned mining community, as well as phenomenal views of the narrow ridges and steep gorges seen throughout the region of Ohio.

This rugged, heavily forested area provides beautiful scenery for campers, hikers, and nature lovers to enjoy. For any history enthusiasts, the ancient mounds and the Hope Furnace are must-see attractions.

In the campground, there are 119 sites, suitable for tents and trailers and all with beautiful surroundings. Picnic tables, restrooms, fire rings, and other amenities are all nearby, and there’s even an equestrian camp. 

15. Findley State Park

Findley State Park holds 838 acres of beautiful woodlands of hardwoods and stately pines, it was actually once a state forest. A network of scenic hiking trails pass through meadows of wildflowers as well as the impressive forests. We recommend this state park to any camper seeking a peaceful refuge to camp in Ohio’s natural beauty. 

The campground at Findley State Park offers 272 non-electric sites, with both sunny spots and shady options. Amenities include showers, restrooms, laundry facilities, and a fully stocked camp store. In the center of the park, Lake Findley offers an abundance of water activities, including a 435-foot beach for swimmers. 

 

A lake during sunset in Ohio.

Now that you’ve discovered Ohio’s best camping spots, it’s time to set out on your hiking adventure.

 

 

Final Verdict:

The Ohio state parks have a lot to offer, for campers and any other outdoor enthusiast. The huge 33,000-acre Cuyahoga Valley National Park offers over 100 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails, as well as a historic railroad, and Brandywine Falls. This huge waterfall is 65 feet high, the tallest in all of the buckeye state. If waterfalls aren’t your thing, there are also plenty of winter and summer sports on offer.

For history-loving campers, we recommend Beaver Creek or Lake Hope State Park. Beaver Creek is home to an abandoned pioneer village, a fascinating insight into the lives of the first settlers in Ohio. Similarly, at Lake Hope State Park you can see an abandoned mining community, where most of the forest was cut to fuel the iron smelting industry there, but now the land has recovered into a magnificent second-growth forest. 

As Ohio is a part of the Great Lakes region, there’s excellent fishing to be done there. Anglers should check out Geneva State Park and Kelleys Island, where they even have fish cleaning stations for when you catch that record-setting bass. Kelleys Island State Park is also one of our favorites because of the Glacial Grooves, it’s the best place in the world to see them. 

Mohican State Park and State Forest are among the most naturally beautiful in Ohio, with the Mohican River flowing straight through and creating some truly phenomenal scenery. The same goes for Shawnee State Park, which holds one of the toughest but most rewarding trails in the area. Here it’s as beautiful as it is challenging. 

So, for the best camping in Ohio, simply select one of these parks to visit. In the buckeye state there’s something for everyone, whether you like sports such as skiing and hiking, or prefer to examine important historical and geographical sites, Ohio has some destinations that all campers should see in their lifetimes.

 

Bonus tip: Check out this rock climbing video from Hocking Hills, Ohio and see if this hidden gem is the place for you!

 

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    Riley Draper

    Riley Draper is a writer and entrepreneur from Chattanooga, Tennessee. As a world traveler, he has been to more than fifty countries and hiked some of the most elusive trails in the world. He is the co-founder of WeCounsel Solutions and has published work in both national and global outlets, including the Times Free Press, Patch, and Healthcare Global. When he's not writing, he's probably on a hiking trip or climbing in the mountains.