Ohio is a great place to camp.
Ohio is home to the Wayne National Forest, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and other beautiful natural spots.
However, due to Ohio’s northern location, it can be a limited summer season, which means you only have a small window to camp in.
In this article, we will discuss Ohio camping dates, times, and rules that you should know before going:
Peak Camping Times:
Peak camping in Ohio is considered to be between May and September.
Once September is over, it is considered winter camping or “off-season.”
This means that your tent camping excursions are pretty much over (unless you are a professional with winter gear).
Can You Go RVing in Ohio Outside these Dates?
There are parks in Ohio that are open all year long for RVing.
If you plan to camp in the off-season, there are a few things you will want to keep in mind.
Some places are open in the winter months, though you will want to call ahead before your stay.
Most of these places have a reduced list of available amenities in the winter months.
These amenities include water and electricity.
Another limitation that you might notice during the winter months is the availability of open campsites.
Due to winter camping not being very popular, most campgrounds will have fewer campsites available.
This shouldn’t be an issue, though, as there is not as much competition for campsites when compared to that of peak season.
Where Can you Camp for Free in Ohio?
What’s even better than camping? Free camping!
However, be warned, if you choose to camp for free, you could be giving up some of the amenities that you would get in a campground that you pay to stay at, as it costs money to provide these amenities.
Some free options in Ohio include:
Jesse Owens State Park Campgrounds:
The Jesse Owens State Park Campground consists of four free campgrounds.
These sites are unique, are on a first-come, first-served basis, and you can only stay for two weeks maximum.
The four campgrounds are:
- Hook Lake Campground
- Maple Grove Campground
- Sand Hollow Campground
- Sawmill Campground
Each of these campgrounds is located in McConnelville, Ohio.
Other Free Sites:
Other free sites include:
- Hidden Hollow Campground: Located in Fernwood State Forest in Bloomingdale, Ohio.
You can also find free places to camp that are not official campsites, but be careful if you choose this option.
Make sure to be respectful of the land, the nature around you, and the state laws about public access.
What to Know When Staying at a Free Campground:
Free is great, but there are some things to be prepared for!
Because amenities are not always available, you will want to plan accordingly.
No matter if it is to drink, do the dishes, wash your hands, or anything else.
So when you go to a free campground, it is wise to plan if they do not offer a source of water.
You should bring jugs of fresh water when you go to make sure you have what you need.
Free campsites often won’t offer you a power hook-up, so you will need to plan.
In a previous article, we went over generators and the etiquette required when camping near others and using a generator.
When you are at a free campsite, you will likely not have a place to dump trash or wastewater.
This means that you might need to bring your own trash bins, composting tools, or even ask the local rangers how they would prefer that you dispose of waste.
Can you Camp on Public Hunting Land in Ohio?
There are rules when it comes to camping on public hunting land in Ohio.
If you choose to camp on public land in Ohio outside of a designated camping area, you will want to be sure you know the rules in that area.
This could include no motorized vehicles and other restrictions.
Camping Rules & Regulations in Ohio:
Depending on where you plan on camping, the rules may vary.
Some common rules should be considered when camping in Ohio, no matter where you are.
There are set park hours when camping. This won’t affect the user of the campsite, but this will affect your guests.
Guests are not allowed in a campsite outside of visiting hours. Most visiting hours end around 10 pm, but it varies.
Also, be aware of your check-in and check-out times.
Vehicle limits are common in most campsites.
You will only be able to have so many vehicles parked on your site.
This is to conserve space for the neighbors around you and prevent you from fitting multiple families on one site.
There are also vehicle limits that pertain to what type of motorized vehicle you can have at the campground.
Make sure that you are aware of the fees at the site you choose to stay at.
This could include trash or waste fees.
These fees could also be incurred if you are not a guest but would like to utilize a campground’s waste management facilities or dumpsters.
Other Items to Note:
There are other potential regulations to be aware of.
These can include:
- Alcohol Restrictions
- Firewood Policies (Often in response to out of state wood)
- Event Permits
- Pet Restrictions/Regulations (Including leash rules & beach restrictions)
- Hunting or Fishing Licenses Required
- Firework regulations
If you have any further questions about camping in Ohio, there are great resources online to answer any additional questions you might have.