A quick tour of Ohio State Parks

We don’t always get three day weekends in February, but when we do, we camp!

We weren’t sure exactly where we wanted to go, but we wanted to go somewhere for a hectic, but fun winter trip.

A quick scan of eBird lead us to decide that Maumee Bay might be our best bet for a destination with a potential of a Yellow-headed blackbird. We worked too late on Friday to make it all the way north, so we overnighted at Van Buren State Park.

It was a great distance from Cincinnati – just over two hours. But this may have been the smallest state park I have ever seen with a campground. A total of 29 non-equestrian sites were available, about half with electric. Although the surrounding area was cornfields and a few houses, the place had a pretty creepy vibe on arrival. We filled our water tank and opted for the first site – 38.

van buren state park copy

I walked to the office/nature center/hut to check in. There was a single check-in packet and it seemed to have withstood a fair amount of weather.


We passed the night inside the trailer very peacefully. When we woke up we got to check out the campground more thoroughly. It is basically an open expanse with a view of cornfields and a few suburban houses. There are pit toilets that looked pretty new, but they are still just pit toilets.

Overall, we decided to pack up and head out. Van Buren State Park was great for an overnight, but I’m not sure we’d want to spend a long weekend there.

We headed north to Lake Erie and East Harbor State Park. This was a beautiful, wooded


When we arrived at the campground, we found a nice check-in packet with available sites highlighted. Only a couple of the B-loops were open and we selected a level pull-through at the end of the row (B26).


It was a beautiful winter day and we explored the shore. We were shocked to see the extent to which the lake had frozen and enjoyed watching the ice-fishing. We spent the day about an hour away at the Black Swamp Bird Observatory and birded along the way.img_7167

We were very surprised to see it had snowed overnight.


We decided to move closer to home and break up the drive with an overnight at Delaware State Park. We were flagged down by a couple as we drove in who suggested we try site 71. Camping area 3 is the only area open in the winter season and site 71 seems to have more gravel than mud.delawarecampmap

We unsuccessfully attempted to spot a short-eared owl at Big Island Wildlife Area. But we had a great dinner at a Warren G. Harding themed brewpub.

We enjoyed a great evening around a campfire (from wood purchased at the Marion Kroger), but we woke to severe storms. We packed up in rain and weren’t able to get pictures of our site. I do, however, have some bathroom pics from a previous visit – great showers and flush toilets in the heated bathhouse.

It was a great weekend and each campground was good for what it was. Delaware and Van Buren State Parks were nice locations, and East Harbor was one of the best Ohio state parks we have encountered so far.




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