Ohio Waterfront Camping
Here are four experiences you'll love, from the Lake Erie shore to the heart of South Bass Island.
Lake Erie Bluffs
Along the Lake Erie shore in Perry Township, two campsites perched atop a 30-foot-high bluff offer a secluded and serene getaway just a 40-minute drive from downtown Cleveland.
Lake Erie Bluffs, which is owned by Lake Metroparks, offers 9,000 feet of shoreline where campers are free to swim, fish or launch their own kayak. More than 200 bird species, ranging from bald eagles to warblers, are seen throughout the year, and those looking to get a different perspective of the area can climb to the top of the 50-foot Coastal Observation Tower.
“Campers are expected to practice a leave-no-trace camping ethic, including carrying in and out all supplies and trash,” says John Venen, promotions and advertising manager at Lake Metroparks. “Campers are on their own and should be prepared to take care of themselves and the environment.” 21 and older, limit of eight people per campsite, reservations required. 3301 Lane Rd., Perry Township. 44081, 440/358-7275, lakemetroparks.com
Indian Lake State Park
Situated along its namesake lake, this Logan County state park offers two beaches and around 480 campsites that are all within a short walk of the water (sites D30–72 are lakeside). Indian Lake permits a variety of on-the-water activities including swimming, unlimited-horsepower boating (with rentals available), kayaking, fishing, water skiing and tubing. Boaters are welcome to swim off their boats around Walnut Island and Oldfield Beach. If you don’t feel like jumping in the lake, there’s also a campground pool available. 13156 St. Rte. 235 N., Lakeview 43331, 937/843-2717, parks.ohiodnr.gov/indianlake
Atwood Lake Park
Created by the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District in the 1930s, Atwood Lake has been a summer playground for residents of Tuscarawas and Carroll counties for generations. The adjoining Atwood Lake Park offers more than 500 campsites, hiking trails and a 360-foot swimming beach featuring inflatable water toys that are a family favorite and a concession stand. For those who want to get out on the water, two marinas offer boat sales, rentals and docking, as well as a seasonal restaurant located at each. 9500 Lakeview Rd. NE, Mineral City 44656, 330/343-6780, atwoodlakeohio.org
South Bass Island State Park
There’s only one way to get to South Bass Island State Park. “You come over in a boat, leaving the mainland and its worries behind,” says Ohio Department of Natural Resources naturalist Renee Market. Once you arrive, the cliff-side campsites offer views of passing boats and resident eagles diving for fish. Along the bottom of the cliffs, campers find the island’s stony beaches, worn soft by the water. There, you can swim, fish from the docks or rent a kayak, personal watercraft or paddleboard. 1523 Catawba Ave., Put-in-Bay 43456, 419/285-2112, parks.ohiodnr.gov/southbassisland