Ohio is a wonderful place for an RV camping adventure! You’ll find lots to do along the shores of Lake Erie, or in one of Ohio’s exciting cities. Visit a museum, take in a ballgame, or get out on the trails to hike. Whatever you choose to do on your visit, an RV will give you the flexibility and comfort to make your trip unforgettable and fun.
This guide will help! We’ll cover everything from what you need to pack for a vacation of RV camping in Ohio, to where you should camp, to what you should do while you’re in the state. Let’s dig in.
Preparing for RV Camping
The first thing you’ll want to do for your RV camping trip to Ohio is to make sure you have an RV and that it’s well-stocked for your adventure. If you don’t have your own motorhome or trailer, RVshare can help! Choose from a variety of rentals in Ohio for your trip.
Choosing the right RV for your needs
There are a few things to consider when you’re choosing an RV to rent for your trip. First, you’ll want to think about the size of your group. A campervan or small trailer will suffice if you’re traveling alone or with one other person. If you’re in a large group, you’ll need a bigger RV like a Class A motorhome or a fifth-wheel trailer.
You’ll also want to think about the amenities you want in an RV. Smaller rigs may have just a bed and possibly electricity. Larger RVs and trailers can have bathrooms, an entertainment area, and even perks like fireplaces! Class C campers are somewhere in-between, with indoor bathrooms and kitchens, but not as much space as larger rigs.
Finally, consider how you’ll get around when your RV is set up at camp. If you have a campervan, you can simply use that as your vehicle to get around. Trailers mean you can use your towing vehicle once you’ve unhitched. If you’re bringing a large motorhome or camper, you may need to tow an extra vehicle behind that you can use to sightsee. You can also investigate whether your campground is near public transportation or a park shuttle.
Packing essentials for a successful trip
The next step is determining what you need to bring in your RV for your trip! Packing an RV is an art form – you need to make sure you bring everything you need, but you don’t want to take up space or weigh down your RV with unnecessary items.
You may find it helpful to make two lists – one for your personal items for the trip and one for the items you’ll need while staying in an RV.
On your personal packing list, you’ll want:
- Clothing appropriate for the weather and activities you’ve planned. Pack for the number of days you’ll be gone, or the number of days between laundry stops.
- First aid kit
- Bug spray or citronella candles
- Entertainment (books, games, movies)
- Outdoor gear (hiking boots, bathing suit, paddleboards, etc)
- Cold or warm weather gear as needed (heavy jacket, hat, mittens, sun hat, rain jacket)
- Extra batteries
- Electronics & chargers
- Pet supplies
- Quarters for showers or laundry
Before you make a packing list for your RV, you’ll want to check the rental listing. Different rentals include different things. You may find that linens, dishes, and even outdoor items like camp chairs or paddleboards come with your rental. In other cases, none of those things are provided.
- Pots & pans
- Utensils – don’t forget a can opener, bottle opener, spatula, set of knives, etc.
- Dish towels & sponges
- Sheets & pillows
- Bath Towels
- Tool kit
- Folding camp chairs
- RV leveling blocks
- Sewer hose and adapter
- Freshwater hose
- Surge protector
You may also find that you need to tweak your list based on where you’re camping and the time of year you’re traveling. This is also a very basic list – you may want to consult this pre-travel checklist to make sure you have everything you need.
Considerations for Camping in Ohio
Before driving your RV through Ohio, you’ll want to know the rules of the road for that state. Most RV laws are the same from state to state, but there can be slight variations. You’ll want to know what those are so you can avoid getting a ticket!
In Ohio, the maximum width for an RV is 102 inches. The maximum motorhome length is 45 feet, and the maximum length for a trailer is 40 feet. You are allowed to tow two vehicles (triple-towing), but the combined length of the three vehicles can’t be more than 65 feet. Passengers are allowed to ride in truck campers. Overnight parking is permitted in service areas but not in rest areas. Parking is allowed in rest areas for a maximum of three hours. Tire chains may be required when there are hazardous road conditions.
Researching campground options and making reservations
Once you have your RV sorted out and know what you’ll be packing in it, it’s time to start researching campgrounds for your visit to Ohio! There are lots of places you can look for more information on campgrounds. Sites like RoverPass, BookOutdoors, Campspot, and The Dyrt can help you narrow down places to stay based on where you want to be and the amenities you want at camp. You can also consult Harvest Hosts and Hipcamp for unique options like wineries and farms.
When you research RV campgrounds in Ohio, you’ll find a variety of choices! Luxury campgrounds are a fantastic way to enjoy the outdoors without giving up comfort! You can also find primitive campsites away from the masses or urban campgrounds in the middle of Ohio’s cities.
Exploring public campgrounds in the state
Let’s first take a look at public campgrounds in Ohio. Public campgrounds include those at national and state parks, in national forests, and on other publicly-owned land. Public campgrounds tend to be less expensive than private campgrounds, but they also have fewer perks.
National Park Camping
Ohio has one national park – Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Cuyahoga has 100 waterfalls, including Brandywine Falls, the tallest waterfall in Northeast Ohio. You’ll also find more than 125 miles of hiking trails, a river, and a scenic railroad.
There is no camping within Cuyahoga Valley National Park, however. You can find several state park campgrounds and private campgrounds nearby.
National Forest Camping
Wayne National Forest in Ohio covers more than 1 million acres of the Appalachians in southeastern Ohio. Parts of the forest are just a short drive from Cleveland, Cincinnati, and other large Ohio cities. You can hike, fish, and play in the river and the creeks and lakes in the forest. You’ll find several public campgrounds within forest boundaries.
State Park Camping
Ohio has lots of public campgrounds at state parks as well! Geneva State Park is a beautiful spot along Lake Erie. Visitors can go fishing, hunting, hiking, boating, and more. Campgrounds at Geneva are pet-friendly and have full hookups available. You can also camp at Lake Loramie State Park. Lake Loramie was formed as a reservoir to keep the water level of the Miami-Erie Canal constant. Today, you can boat, swim, and fish in the lake and ice fish in winter.
Wolf Run State Park is 1,338 acres which includes a lake and a forested area nestled in the Appalachians. Campers can hike, fish, boat, hunt, or enjoy winter activities like snowshoeing or cross-country skiing.
Exploring private campgrounds and RV parks
Along with Ohio’s many public campgrounds, there are plenty of private campgrounds and RV parks as well. Private campgrounds have more perks like WiFi, showers, laundry, and even just dump stations that you can’t always find at public campgrounds. There are glamping campgrounds like Cherry Ridge Retreat, Ravenwood Castle, and Wren Eagle Retreat.
Austin Lake Park & Cabins in Toronto, Ohio has bumper boats, pedal carts, and a dog swimming area. Lake Wapusun RV Resort features a 23-acre lake with swimming and fishing, plus five smaller lakes nearby.
Boondocking in Ohio
On the complete opposite end of the scale from private campgrounds, you can also go boondocking in Ohio! There are plenty of spots for boondocking, but Hook Lake Campground at Jesse Owens State Park is a beautiful spot near lakes and an archery range. Hidden Hollow Campground is in Fernwood State Forest near some excellent hiking trails and fishing ponds.
Planning your itinerary
Once you’ve chosen a campground (or several!) for your Ohio RV camping trip, it’s time to decide what to do when you’re there! Ohio has a variety of museums, parks, amusement parks, and cities like Cincinnati, Toledo, and Cleveland for you to explore.
Features and attractions in Ohio
One exciting way to see Ohio is by taking a scenic drive in the state. The Covered Bridge Scenic Byway winds from Marietta to Woodsfield, passing through several covered bridges from the 1800s. You’ll also find quaint general stores, scenic countryside, and historic attractions. Of course, if you have a large motorhome, you’ll want to check its size and weight before driving it through these bridges!
Make time to see Ohio’s landmarks while you’re in the state as well. The Zero Gravity Research Facility is a fascinating spot where NASA scientists are studying the ways zero-gravity environments can affect living things. Hocking Hills State Park has picturesque caves, beautiful waterfalls, and interesting geological formations. The Cincinnati Music Hall was built in 1878 and has hosted a range of musicians in the years since.
Ohio has some interesting national sites as well. The Hopewell Culture National Historical Park preserves some of the remaining earthen structures of the Hopewell people. The Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park commemorates the site where the Wright Brothers first tested their aircraft.
Festivals, fairs, and events in Ohio
You may decide to plan your RV camping trip to Ohio around an event like a music or food festival or a fair. Visit the odd mash-up of dinosaurs and DJs at the Lost Lands music festival in Thornville, kick up your heels at The Country Fest, or grab some deep-fried goodies at the Ohio State Fair. Many festivals and fairs even have camping available right on the grounds of the event.
If you’re camping at an event, you can also check your rental listing and see if the owner offers set-up. Sometimes, for a fee, owners will set your rig up at the site for you. That way, you can get right to the fun when you arrive!
Exploring Outdoor Activities in Ohio
If you want to spend lots of time outdoors on your Ohio camping trip, you have many options! Ohio has lots of hiking, fishing, swimming, and boating in summer and snowshoeing, ice fishing, and cross-country skiing in winter.
Hiking, biking, and nature trails
Experience Ohio nature on an exhilarating hike or mountain bike ride in the state! Here are some of the best hiking trails in Ohio:
If you enjoy mountain biking instead, here are some great trails to try!
If these trails don’t suit you or your family, you can check out AllTrails for a variety of other choices – you’re sure to find a trail you love!
Fishing, boating, and water activities
Ohio’s greenery and waterfalls all point to a state with abundant water sources. This also means there are lots of opportunities to play in the water! You can go fishing in many places in Ohio. For starters, Lake Erie is an excellent spot for perch and walleye fishing. Caesar Creek Lake is a popular spot to fish for bass, crappie, carp, catfish, saugeye, and muskellunge. Pymatuning Lake has smallmouth bass, yellow perch, largemouth bass, sunfish, crappie, and walleye.
You can also take a dip in the many lakes and rivers in Ohio. Check out Ohio’s beaches like Cedar Point Beach, Lake Hope State Park Beach, or Salt Fork State Park Beach.
Ohio also has many waterfalls, including those we mentioned at Cuyahoga National Park! Charleston Falls, Hayden Falls, and the Great Falls of Tinker’s Creek are all beautiful waterfalls to visit.
Wildlife viewing and photography
You’ll find lots of wildlife in Ohio! Squirrels, raccoons, deer, bears, bobcats, and coyotes are all found in the state. You can also spot a variety of birds in the state, including robins, bluejays, and mourning doves.
Cuyahoga National Park and Ohio’s many state parks are places to watch for wildlife. Punderson State Park is an excellent place to watch for beavers, owls, and other birds. Beaver Creek State Park is a nice spot to watch for deer, turkeys, and birds of prey. There are also several wildlife refuges and preserves where you can watch for wild animals!
Family-friendly activities and attractions
If you’re traveling to Ohio with family, there are many family-friendly things to do! Besides hiking, mountain biking, and fishing, you can visit local amusement parks, museums, and many other attractions.
Historical Sites and Museums
It’s always nice when you can add some learning to a fun family trip! You can do that by visiting a national site or museum in Ohio. The Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument commemorates the contributions of the Buffalo Soldiers during the Civil War and celebrates the first Black National Park Superintendent. The James A. Garfield National Historic Site commemorates the life and accomplishments of President Garfield. The space includes Garfield’s former home and properties and the first presidential library established in the United States.
Amusement parks, zoos, and wildlife refuges
Of course, sometimes you just want to scream your head off at a thrilling amusement park for a day! Ohio has some world-renowned amusement parks, so you’re sure to find one you love. Cedar Point & Cedar Point Shores in Sandusky is perhaps Ohio’s best-known amusement park. You’ll find tons of rides, including tame rides for younger kids like Charlie Brown’s Wind Up swing ride and the giant Ferris wheel. You’ll also find thrills for the adventure-seekers in the family! Try the Top Thrill Dragster or Millennium Force to get your blood pumping!
Zoos are another excellent family outing! The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens cover 75 acres where 2,000 animals and 3,000 plant species live. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is known for its famous director Jack Hanna and is the country’s second-largest zoo.
You can watch for animals in the wild at Ohio wildlife refuges! The Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge is a popular spot for migrating birds. It’s in the Lake Erie Marsh Region, an important spot for fish and birds. The Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge is a haven for migratory birds and endangered freshwater mussels, among other wildlife.
Safety and Preparedness when RV Camping in Ohio
An Ohio RV camping trip will surely be an experience you’ll remember forever! However, you will want to be aware of potential dangers in the state so you can be prepared in case of an emergency. At the same time, you can be reassured that Ohio is one of the lowest-risk areas in the United States when it comes to natural disasters.
Weather conditions and natural disaster preparedness
Some of the natural disasters that are most common in Ohio include tornados, flooding, and landslides.
If you are faced with a tornado when you’re in Ohio, download some weather apps and set them to alert you if you’re in a danger zone. You’ll want an emergency bag packed with flashlights, a radio, food, and water in case you need to evacuate your RV. Find out where the nearest tornado shelter is, and if there is a tornado warning, head to that shelter.
If there is flooding while you’re in Ohio, watch weather apps or local weather reports so you know when the storm is arriving and when it will finish. Head to higher ground to get away from flooded areas. When driving, be aware that many flooded areas look deceptively shallow. Don’t be fooled and drive into a flooded region because it didn’t look as deep as it was.
Wildlife encounters and precautions
Wildlife, including black bears, bobcats, and coyotes, live in Ohio. Be careful when hiking, and do not let small children or pets run ahead on a trail. Read posted signs and follow advice on what to do if you see a wild animal. Make plenty of noise when hiking so that animals are aware you’re coming and aren’t startled.
An RV camping trip to Ohio is an excellent way to get out and explore this country up close! You’ll have flexibility and comfort in an RV, and you’re sure to make some great memories!
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