Whether you call Ohio home or are just visiting, this state offers enough lakes rivers and trails to keep any camper busy. Pitch a tent lakeside or rent a cabin. Either way, you’ll be up close and personal with Ohio’s natural beauty. You’ll soon see that camping in Ohio is the best way to vacation!
Camping In Ohio – When to camp
Winters in Ohio can be rather inhospitable, so unless you’re a polar bear, you’ll want to stick to camping in the spring, summer and early fall.
There are plenty of reasons to camp in Ohio in every season, but some campgrounds are more appropriate in certain months than others. Most state parks remain open year round, but they may close a number of campsites in the winter months.
If you’re traveling in the winter or late fall months, call the state park before you go. We’ve listed numbers for our recommended campsites below to make it easier for you to plan your trip (regardless of season).
Some campsites also offer cabins while a few do not. If you may be camping in inclement weather, it’s always safest to rent a cabin, but the choice is yours.
Keep in mind that late spring and early summer are peak times for camping in Ohio, so you may need to plan your trip in advance. Campgrounds, and especially cabins, in the most popular camping areas book up quickly.
Camping In Ohio – What to bring
It can be a minor nuisance to forget something on vacation to a hotel or metropolitan area, but it’s another thing entirely when you forget something on a camping trip. You’re probably not going to be worried about your phone charger, unless you have a travel option and service in hard-to-reach areas, but you will want to focus heavily on the basics.
Your camping supply list should include all the basics:
- Tent, poles, stakes
- Extra tarp
- Sleeping bags and pads for each camper
- Pillows and blankets
- Headlamps or flashlights (with extra batteries)
- Lantern and fuel
- Insect repellant
- Any prescription meds
You’ll also want to pack layers because nights can get a bit chilly, especially in the early fall months.
In addition to all the camping basics listed above, you’ll want to bring some cooking equipment. Although these things are basic on some level, your needs may vary based on how you plan to camp and eat. At a minimum, you’ll probably need a Firestarter, coals, a pot or pan, and some utensils.
There are plenty of easy camping recipes with very few ingredients that can sustain you and your family while you’re camping. And for those with a sweet tooth, there are also some decadent campfire desserts you can enjoy. Who says you have to sacrifice while you’re camping?
And if even if you want to live off the land and hunt and fish for your food, you’ll want to have pots, pans and good knives to clean your food.
Camping In Ohio – Where to go
If you’re looking for some insider camping info on where to pitch your tent, you’ve come to the right place. Whether you’re camping alone or camping with toddlers, Ohio has many destinations that will give you the peace you seek. Well, as much peace as you can get with toddlers around, anyway. 😉
The following 10 camping in Ohio destinations are tried and true spots where you can expect an epic camping experience. There’s no shortage of things to do while camping in these favorite Ohio campsites.
Top Ten Camping In Ohio Spots
- Mohican State Park
If you’re looking for an untouched paradise type of experience, you’ll find it at Mohican State Park. We all have that one friend who swears they’d be happy living hundreds of miles from civilization. Well, you can put them to the test at Mohican State Park. Areas of this park can get busy, but it’s so massive that you can easily spend days here without seeing another person. Mohican State Park sits on 1,110 acres adjacent to a 4,525-acre state forest. You can camp in your own tent or rent one of the state park’s cottages.
Areas of interest: Clear Fork Gorge, hemlock forest, Mohican River.
Address: 3116 OH-3, Loudonville, OH 44842
Phone: (419) 994-4290
- Shawnee State Park
Set up your campsite and explore the Appalachian foothills near the banks of the Ohio River at Shawnee State Park. This state park and campground is nestled within the 63,000-acre Shawnee State Forest. This park used to be the hunting grounds of the Shawnee Indians, and you can expect to see plenty of wildlife.
Areas of interest: All: The erosion-carved valleys and wooded hills throughout this park are breathtaking.
Address: 4404 State Route 125, Portsmouth, Ohio 45663
Phone: (866) 644-6727
- Kelleys Island State Park
If you’re among those who need to setup their campsite near water, Kelleys Island State Park is your newest home away from home. It’s on the smaller end of campsites on this list, at just over 1 square mile, but that ensures water access for everyone on this small island. There are plenty of things to do while camping here, including boating, kayaking and hiking. There’s never a dull moment at Kelleys Island State Park.
Address: 920 Division St, Kelleys Island, OH 43438
Phone: (419) 746-2546
- Hocking Hills State Park
Drive through the cornfields to get to scenic Hocking Hills State Park, and you won’t be disappointed. Here, you can zipline, mountain bike, rock climb and hike. There are even wheelchair accessible trails and Segway tours. It’s really a great place for the entire family, even if you’re camping with toddlers. There are trails for everyone at every skill level. So if you’re little ones are just learning to walk, they can still enjoy nature. It may just take a bit longer to get from the beginning to the end of the trail, but that’s okay. This is the stuff memories are made of.
Address: 19852 OH-664, Logan, OH 43138
Phone: (740) 385-6842
- Lazy River At Granville
If you’re camping with kids, especially young ones, Lazy River at Granville is where you want to be. There are plenty of area attractions to keep everyone interested, or you can stay on the campsite and enjoy the zipline, challenge course, mini-golf, swimming pool, sprayground, BMX track and gem mine. This is camping vacation the entire family will remember for a lifetime. You may have a typical campsite and camping experience, but the activities here are anything but ordinary.
Address: 2340 Dry Creek Rd NE, Granville, OH 43023
Phone: (740) 366-4385
- Tappan Lake
Tappan Lake is a veritable playground for boating and water recreation enthusiasts. With a 399 horsepower limit, you’ll have no probable catching air while waterskiing tubing or wakeboarding. And if that’s not your thing, feel free to take a step back and enjoy fishing or relaxing by the lake. Launch your own boat or rent one from the Tappan Lake marina. They also offer dock rentals, so you can keep your boat there at-the-ready for all your summer camping adventures.
Address: 84000 Mallarnee Rd, Deersville, OH 44693
Phone: (740) 922-3649
- John Bryan State Park
This 752-acre park is considered the most scenic state park in western Ohio. With an intriguing limestone gorge naturally cut by the Little Miami River and plenty of hiking, biking and fishing opportunities, this state park sets the stage for a perfectly serene getaway.
Address: 3790 Ohio 370, Yellow Springs, OH 45387
Phone: (937) 767-1274
- Dillon State Park
You’ll find Dillon State Park in the heart of east central Ohio. This park’s wooded hills and scenic valleys offer a picturesque setting for all your outdoor adventures, whether it’s boating the quite coves of the lake or hiking the beautiful forest trails. Dillon State Park spans 2,285 acres, so carve out your spot and enjoy the quiet serenity of nature.
Address: 5265 Dillon Hills Dr, Nashport, OH 43830
Phone: (740) 453-0442
- Alum Creek State Park
Alum Creek State Park is another campsite you’ll find in central Ohio. This state park spans 4,630 acres and provides access to a 3,387-acre reservoir for boating and water recreation. This park also contains Ohio’s largest inland beach, so it’s a great place to take the family for some rest and relaxation. Regardless of whether you’re after adventure, relaxation or a bit of both, you’ll find it at Alum Creek State Park. The quiet coves and shale cliffs aren’t so bad to look at either!
Address: Lewis Center Rd, Lewis Center, OH 43035
- Hueston Woods State Park
You’ll find something to do year-round at Hueston Woods State Park. Located in Butler and Preble counties, this park boasts close to 3,000 acres ripe with adventuring opportunities. Here, you can do all the standard camping stuff, such as hiking, fishing, canoeing and mountain biking, but you can also have a unique experience. Many people visit Hueston Woods state park for fossil hunting. Find your very own fossils for the kids to show off at school, and take home your very own piece of history.
Address: College Corner, OH 45003
Phone: (513) 523-6347
General Camping In Ohio Tips
As you’re gearing up for your upcoming camping trip, make sure you have your bases covered. The following tips will help you have a great time camping, whether it’s your first or fifteenth camping trip.
(Check Out Our Ultimate Camping Checklist Guide Post)
- Check your camping gear
If your gear isn’t brand new, you’ll want to check it before you leave. You don’t want to hike up to the campsite and find out you have a gaping hole in the tent. Even if you have used your tent lately, it’s a good idea to check it. Most people store their camping gear in attics, garages or basements, and this leaves it all exposed to the elements and potential critters that may try to build a home there.
- Check the forecast
Especially if you’re camping in the spring or winter, check the weather to see if there are any major stormfronts moving in before you go camping. Your campsite may alert you to these things, but it’s better to be safe. If there are any signs of danger, delay your trip. Camping can be good, safe fun, as long as you don’t take any major risks. You don’t want your family to become another statistic.
- Pack layers
In the spring and early fall, weather can be a it unpredictable. You may wear tank tops and shorts to hike during the day, but then you could end the day wearing a hoodie near the campfire. It’s always best to be prepared.
And regardless of season, bring some waterproof garments. If you’re traveling in the summer, a poncho and waterproof hiking boots will suffice. In the winter, you’ll need to gear up a bit more to stay warm and dry.
- Bring a tarp
If you’ve ever been stuck on a camping trip while it’s raining, you know full well the importance of bringing a tarp. A tarp can help keep your tent dry, inside and out. So be sure to bring one tarp for each tent. Tie each tarp around a surrounding tree, so you’re creating somewhat of a roof over your tent to keep everyone dry.
- Prepare for the chill
Even in the spring, temperatures can drop below 40 degrees Fahrenheit at night. So unless you’re vacationing in June or July, make sure your sleeping bags are all rated for such temperatures. If the forecast seems especially chilly, bring foam pads to put down between your sleeping bags and the ground. This will keep you cozy and comfortable in any temperature.
- Hydrate well
Some people forget to hydrate when the weather is cooler, but it’s equally important to drink water. If possible, bring your own filtration system.
Visit any of the places on this list and follow our camping in Ohio tips, and it will soon become your most favorite camping destination.
Alexandra Adams is co-founder of gogomountain and is an avid outdoorswoman with many years hiking and camping experience. GoGomountain is a one-stop hiking and camping adventure blog, check out all the latest blog posts here