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Best Primitive Camping In Ohio

Evergreen Park Rv Resort

Free Camping at Hook Lake CG, Jesse Owens State Park, Ohio

Evergreen is a luxurious park located in Dundee, Ohio. With 87 paved RV sites, most sites can accommodate the largest of big rigs. Some of the sites are pull-through. The park offers activities throughout the year including a fun dog show with prizes for Best Trick, Waggiest Tail, and more.

Evergreen Park Resort. Photo via RV LIFE Campgrounds

In October, visitors can participate in Willies Annual Fish Fry and Fall Festival. Halloween weekend offers trick-or-treating, and a Halloween costume contest with prizes and fun for all ages.

Evergreen boasts heated shower floors, waterfall hot tubs, and an exercise room. This park is also close to Amish Country and just an hour south of Akron where you can make it a day trip and visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the Akron Zoo, as well as many parks and natural areas.

Camper Village/lighthouse Cedar Point

Camper Village, located in Sandusky, Ohio, is the roller coaster adventurers mecca. As you step outside the park, you step into Cedar Point amusement park, the roller coaster capital of the world.

Step out your camper door and step into Cedar Point for a wild ride.

Named the Best RV Park in Ohio by Readers Digest, Camper Village has some 283 lakefront luxury RV sites. All sites are level with concrete pads, including back-in and pull-through configurations.

The park provides a swimming pool, outdoor games, game room, gift shop, and quick-service food stand. RV sites are equipped with a charcoal grill and picnic table. A supply store, laundry facility, restrooms, showers, and Lake Erie Beach, will provide a haven to rest after a day of amusement park fun. Cedar Point tickets are available for purchase at the park.

Try Camping At East Fork Statepark

East Fork State Park has one of the biggest Ohio state park campgrounds.

At this massive campground, youll find over 400 state park campsites.

Most of them are electric sites, but they also have non-electric sites.

Traditional tent campers can also use electric sites, they arent just for RVs.

East Fork State Park even has state park campsites for equestrians, which is pretty unique.

On the grounds, youll also find mini-golf, basketball courts, cornhole, boat rentals, and bike rentals.

Youll easily find tons of things to do while you stay at this huge Ohio state park with camping.

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Best Places To Go Camping In Ohio

Located in the heart of the Midwest and featuring a variety of incredible landscapes, Ohio is one of the best places in the country to go camping. Whether you are searching for rolling hills and mountain views or cascading waterfalls and fishing ponds, you will be able to find an Ohio campground that has everything you are looking for.

These are the best places to go camping in Ohio:

Recreation Area Cumberland Ohio

Tent Camping Hocking Hills : Logan, Ohio Tent Camping Sites

One of the best-kept secret camping spots in Ohio is the ReCreation Area in Cumberland, Ohio. This area is owned and managed by American Electric Power, one of the largest power companies in the country. Its the largest piece of recreational land in Ohio and offers free primitive camping thats first come, first serve. Hunting, fishing, boating, camping, hiking, and so much more are possible in the ReCreation Area.

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Explore The Trails At Dillon State Park While Camping In Ohio

Dillon State Park is a great option if youre thinking of camping in Ohio state parks.

The park itself has some great amenities.

Hike the many Ohio trails, swim in the lake, or relax on the beach during the day before coming back to your campsite.

The campground also has gaga ball courts, basketball courts, a camp store, and free wifi.

At each campsite, youll find a picnic table, a fire pit, and many of the 195 sites are electric.

They even have equestrian sites where there are non-electric campsites.

At the campgrounds, youll find a bathhouse with toilets, showers, and even laundry services.

If you dont want to pack a tent or come in your RV, you can rent one of the cabins on the park grounds.

Choose The Primitive Walk

Hocking Hills State Park9879921,471Beautiful and easy hike

We drove down from our vacation weekend in Columbus. We arrived at 9am and the parking lot was empty. We did the SHORT hike to Old Man’s Cave and the kids all wanted to actually hike. We went to the upper falls but they were dried up. We were so excited to see an owl fly down and land on a branch right in front of us!!!! After getting to the upper falls, we saw we were at the parking lot so we ate our picnic lunch and then ventured to the lower falls. At this point, the parking lot was packed! There were a lot of people smoking on the trails. We’re in nature!!! We do not want to smell your cigarettes!!!! This time we took the trail to the lower falls. This was a lot more strenuous . It was the trip back up that was a lot of stairs! There were a lot of dogs swimming in the lower falls. Some kids were wading but the signs at the entrance clearly said No swimming or wading so we stayed out. It was a gorgeous day.

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How To Find Dispersed Camping In Ohio

Now that you have a broad sense of where dispersed camping is permitted in Ohio its time to drill down a bit further into how to go about finding a a campsite. This advice will be most applicable for those looking for dispersed camping in Wayne National Forest, but also will be helpful for anyone looking for free camping in Ohio.

The first step is always to reach out directly to either the USFS District Office or the Department of Natural Resources to inquire on current conditions and get the latest information on camping availability. Wayne National Forest has three Ranger Districts, as well as an excellent welcome center:

  • Wayne National Forest Welcome Center Nelsonville, OH
  • Athens Ranger District Nelsonville, OH
  • Athens Ranger District, Marietta Unit Office Marietta, OH
  • Ironton Ranger Station Pedro, OH

These offices will be able to give you the most up to date information and have the best recommendations for campsites.

In addition, there are also several excellent online resources that can help in your dispersed campsite search, which weve outlined below.

  • Our go to resource for finding free camping in the US. Simply enter your desired location and filter through the results.

Note that there is no water source here so youll need to come prepared for a dry campsite. There are a few vault toilets in the area, although they can be quite a distance from a few of the best campsites.

Our Top Camping App The Dyrt PRO

Caesar Creek State Park Campground

Free Camping at Bicentennial CG, AEP Recreation Land, Ohio

Who would have guessed we have a beach right here in southern Ohio! Dont believe me? Caesar Creek State Park in Waynesville has over 1,200 feet of beach along Caesar Creek Lake with swimming, fishing and even water skiing. Combine water activities with 40+ miles of hiking trails and 60+ species of plants and wildlife, and its no surprise that you might want to make a whole weekend of it at Caesar Creek State Park campground.

The campground has over 250 campsites, ranging from tent camping to RVs. Bathrooms and shower houses are available throughout the campground, along with electricity and full hook up site options, picnic tables, fire rings, a camp store, and a boat ramp.

Caesar Creek State Park Website

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Find More Great Campgrounds In Ohio

Plan your trip to these campgrounds in Ohio, and find more points of interest, on RV LIFE Trip Wizard and the RV LIFE App with RV-Safe GPS. While youre in the Midwest, we also recommend visiting these scenic campgrounds.

Been to a campground lately? Dont forget to leave a review! Reviews help other RVers like yourself, and they help the campground. Leave a campground review today!

Indian Lake State Park

Indian Lake State Park is an 800-acre multi-use park set around a 5,800-acre lake that offers a variety of water-related recreational opportunities, such as boating, fishing, and skiing as well as camping. The park features a scenic campground on the northwest section of the lakeshore, with 441 family campsites with electric hookups, restrooms with heated showers houses and flush toilets, laundry facilities, and a camp commissary. Additional amenities include a private beach, a boat launching ramp, 20 spaces for boat docking, and rental cabin or trailers furnished with convertible futon bunks and sofas, refrigerators, gas stoves, microwaves, and outdoor gas grills. Recreational activities include hiking and biking along the 3-mile Cherokee Trail or the 1-mile Pew Island Trail, which encircles Pew Island and boasts spectacular views of Indian Lake.

12774 OH-235, Lakeview, OH 43331, Phone: 937-843-2717

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Where Is Dispersed Camping Allowed In Ohio

Ohio generally has two public landowners that permit dispersed or primitive camping. Those are the United State Forest Service and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Although both allow for free, dispersed camping, the rules and regulations in place for the National Forests or Ohio State Forests and State Parks are much different.

Weve outlined the basics youll need to know for each entity below.

Wayne National Forest Dispersed Camping in Ohio

The lone national forest in Ohio, Wayne National Forest occupies over 240,000 acres of land in southern Ohio. Wayne NF is not a contiguous forest, but rather consists of a patchwork of land all managed as a single national forest. Check out the map below to get a sense of its location and layout:

Generally speaking, Wayne National Forest is going to be your best bet for traditional dispersed camping in Ohio.

What do we mean by traditional?

Well, for starters be sure to check out this helpful guide to dispersed camping, but broadly speaking we mean free camping outside of a developed campground.

There are many opportunities for dispersed camping in Wayne National Forest, and their dispersed camping webpage has a helpful list and outline of the rules and regulations. Check it out below

If youre familiar with dispersed camping in national forests, youll notice a few key differences in Wayne NF versus the typical regulations. These include:

  • So long as you arent blocking a roadway or trail, dispersed camping is allowed.
  • Hidden Hollow Campground Fernwood State Forest

    Toodik Family Campground Cabin &  Canoeing, OH

    Hidden Hollow Campground in the northeastern of Ohio is often referred to as a hidden gem by those in the know. The campground does have paved tent pads, but its generally rustic. The 22 sites here only have vault toilets, fire rings, and picnic tables. There are also plenty of garbage bins available, so you dont need to pack out your waste.

    The region is part of the 3,023-acre Fernwood State Forest. It was once strip-mined for coal and has since been reclaimed by the state. There is a 14-day limit on free camping in this area.

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    Packing List Forcamping In Ohio

    A concealed travel pouch may be one of the most important items you bring along when camping in Ohio. It is always important to protect your personal information. Identity thieves are everywhere.

    This unisex RFID blocking concealed travel pouch is lightweight and comes in several colors. It has lots of organization to give you peace of mind.

    If you have a pouch already that does not come with the RFID protection, as I do, these RFID sleeves are the perfect solution.

    This configuration comes with enough credit card sleeves that the entire family would be protected. They are slim too, so they will easily fit into your pouch or wallet.

    If you are planning on taking a lot of pictures with your phone you will definitely want to consider an external charging battery. This Anker high-speed phone charging battery is the exact one I carry with me on all of my trips.

    It can be used on a variety of phones, not just an iPhone like I have. And wow is it fast!

    I like that it holds its charging capabilities for several uses so I do not have to worry about it while out and about, and if I forget to recharge it at night, it will still be good to go the next day.

    My daughter gifted me with this FugeTek selfie stick and tripod setup for my birthday. I absolutely love it! It is made of lightweight aluminum and is so easy to use.

    It has Bluetooth connectivity and is a breeze to use for taking selfies during Indiana camping.

    You will want to bring your own refillable water bottle with you.

    Maple Grove Campground Jesse Owens State Park

    Maple Grove Campground is located nearby to Hook Lake Campground A and Sand Hollow Campground C within the Jesse Owens State Park. Widely referred to as Campground G, this area has just 10 campsites and is near to the roads. If you want some privacy, try your luck with the sites towards the rear.

    There are waste disposal bins, vaulted toilets, and fire rings available here.

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    Trailriders Campground Harrison State Forest

    The 20 primitive camping sites at Trailriders Campground are located in a beautiful and secluded part of the Harrison State Forest. Theyre paved and well kept, to say the least.

    Furthermore, the campground has a peaceful atmosphere for those looking for a relaxing camping trip. The campground sits on a grassy surface that is ideal to pitch your tent.

    National Parks And Forests

    Free Camping at Sawmill Road CG, Jesse Owens State Park, OH

    Wayne National Forest, southeast of Columbus, covers more than a quarter-million acres in the Appalachian foothills. Almost all of the park’s 300 miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails remain open year-round. Ten large areas of the park are open to dispersed camping, among them the length of the North Country and Wildcat Hollow hiking trails and at Timbre Ridge Lake. Cuyahoga Valley National Park borders the Cuyahoga River in northeastern Ohio. The National Park Service has five designated primitive sites for hikers on the Ohio and Erie Canal towpath and backcountry trails.

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    What Is Free Campingis There A Catch

    Free camping is sometimes referred to as dispersed camping or boondocking. It simply means camping without any amenities, usually in areas that have been specifically set aside for that purpose.

    Theres no electricity, no water, no restroomsjust you and nature, off the grid. There may be some other campers nearby, and maybe not.

    Many popular boondocking sites are in national parks or on lands under the federal Bureau of Land Managements jurisdiction. In Ohio, there are nearly 300 campsites on lands that were once used for coal mining.

    These have since been reclaimed and turned into vibrant recreation areas

    Amazingly, these places exist, and many of them offer free camping. Were always extra careful not to cause damage and to clean up after ourselves. This leave no trace philosophy is our way of showing our gratitude. Really, we consider it as holding up our end of the bargain.

    Wed hate to see any of these beautiful campsites shut down because of misuse.

    Many RVers love boondocking because of the sense of independence it brings them. It feels good to provide for yourself without assistance from others. That only goes so far, though. Its important to not just head out off the grid without a solid plan and a backup plan, too.

    Woods Tall Timber Resort

    Woods Tall Timber Resort is a 157-acre park located in New Philadelphia, Ohio. The main attraction is a seven-acre lake where guests can swim and fish. The park also offers cabins and cottages as well as 150 RV sites, tent sites, cabins, and cottages.

    Woods Tall Timber Lake Resort. Photo via resort

    Guests can also enjoy paddle boating, canoeing, electric boating, or relax on the beach while the kids enjoy the water. Woodys Grille provides food and ice cream.

    A trip to the Historic Schoenbrunn Village or Tuscora Park in nearby New Philadelphia is a great addition to your trip.

    Also Check: Free Camping Sites In Texas

    Free Camping In Ohio State Parks

    State Parks are not usually a place you think of finding free camping, but In the very south of the state, just over an hour east of Cincinnati, is Adams Lake State Park. With a total of 10 primitive sites, 5 grass sites for tent camping, and 5 pull-thru campsites for RVs, it is first-come, first-served with fire rings, picnic tables, vault toilets, and water available.

    One of the nation’s most unique state parks is Muskingum River State Park. It is a linear park stretching over 100 miles through southern Ohio before emptying into the Ohio River at Marietta. Along the river are 11 locks and dams, the only remaining hand-operated locks of their kind in the country. While in transit, boaters can camp at most of the locks. RVs can use the campground at lock #11, which is reservable and has a fee. The Luke Chute Lock & Dam #5 allows free primitive camping. Check-in with the lock operator and pick a spot either in the parking area or on the grass.

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