Located just south of the Canadian Border on Lake Erie is Middle Bass Island State Park. This Ohio island park is perfect for those on long boating trips or those who love being surrounded by water. There are many opportunities for watersports in the park, including boating, kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, fishing, and swimming. While swimming is not allowed in the marina, there are designated swimming areas in the park.
Lonz Winery formerly owned the land in which the park is located, and it wasn't until 2001 that the State of Ohio purchased the winery and established the state park. This makes Middle Bass Island State Park one of Ohio's newest state parks!
Since being purchased by the state, the winery has been renovated and opened to the public. The winery is not producing or selling wine, but it is open for tours.
Although the park is not RV friendly, it is the perfect place to enjoy the great outdoors if you like tent camping, or if you just want to get out of the campervan for a day. The island is accessed by ferry, and tickets can be purchased for a small fee. If you plan to stay in the park for a while, you can make reservations to have your vehicle loaded onto the ferry and dropped off on the island.
Middle Bass Island State Park is indeed an island, and can only be reached by ferry. The ferry leaves from Catawba Island off of OH-53, just over an hour's drive from Clevland, Ohio. The park is perfect for those looking for waterfront tent camping —RVs are not allowed in this park. There are options to get your vehicle to the island, but you must make ferry reservations to accommodate your vehicle at least 24 hours in advance.
Once you're on the island, all roads are paved and easy to navigate. The campground is located on the southwest side of the island, and if you don't bring a vehicle, most places on the island are accessible on foot or bicycle. If you have your own boat, and you're boating on Lake Erie, there is a 184-slip marina in which you can dock.
Since the campground is tent only, this is the perfect state park for those looking for a place to stay the night while out on a fishing or boating trip. There is a large parking lot situated on the marina near the ferry if you want to leave your rig behind for a day and check out the park.
Because rigs and trailers are not allowed on Middle Bass Island State Park, many RV campers choose to stay at East Harbor State Park, just 15 minutes away from where the ferry takes off. The park's campground offers hundreds of RV-friendly sites, some with full hookups and waterfront views. Other campers looking for a place to park the rig for the night opt for a private RV resort, and there are plenty of them in the area to choose from. Amenities at these RV parks range in luxuriousness, but most at least offer full hookups, spacious sites, and flush toilets. You may even be able to find heated swimming pools, laundry facilities, and Wi-Fi.
Camping in Middle Bass Island State Park can be both rewarding and relaxing. While the park is not RV friendly, it is the perfect place to pitch your tent and relax on the shore of Lake Erie.
Within the park, the campground is located on the shore of the southwest portion of the island. The campground is within walking distance of the marina, making it the perfect campground for those on a multi-day fishing trip, or for those looking to get out of the motorhome for the weekend. The campground itself offers 20 tent-only campsites, as well as three day-use shelters. These shelters are perfect for picnics, reunions, and even meetings. While reservations are recommended for the tent campsites, they are not required. If you plan to use one of the day-shelters, you must make a reservation. Each campsite includes a picnic table and a fire ring on site. While there is no running water or electricity at the campsites, there are showers and restrooms available for use in the harbormaster building. While camping is a blast at Middle Bass Island State Park, note that the campground is only open between May and October.
Bird enthusiasts and animal lovers alike delight in the numerous birds that fly over the park. Over 100 species have been spotted around the island, so aim your binoculars to the sky and watch for the red-bellied woodpecker, bufflehead, American woodcock, and the threatened yellow warbler. Your best chances for spotting these species are in Middle Bass Island Wetland Preserve or the Kuehnle Wildlife Area. Spring is a great time for birding, as many species are returning home after a long winter away.
Fishing is always a fun activity when visiting Middle Bass Island State Park. Since the park is on an island, there are many opportunities within the park and all around the shore for fishing. Many anglers choose to stay at the park when they're on extended fishing trips. Thanks to the 190-slip marina, this park is perfect for all-day boat fishing and relaxing by a campfire in the evening. There are many species to be caught in Lake Erie, whether fishing from the bank, from a dock, or from a boat. White bass, walleye, smallmouth bass, perch, and sheepshead are some of the most common catches from the lake.
While hiking in Middle Bass Island State Park is a bit different than most state parks, it can definitely be rewarding. There are no designated trails on the island, but there is a wooded area within the park for you to explore. All of the roads on the island are paved, making it more of a walking environment than hiking, but that doesn't take away the adventure. Whether you're exploring the wooded area or taking a walk to see the sunrise over the lake, you won't regret your trek across the island.
When camping at Middle Bass Island State Park, cycling is the perfect activity for seeing the island, getting some exercise, or even getting around more quickly. While ferrying your car to the island can be a bit of a challenge, once you park your car, biking is much easier and much faster than driving. The entire island encompasses around 800 acres, making the whole island accessible via bicycle.
There's more to Middle Bass Island State Park than just water. Situated on the north end of the island is Kuehnle Wildlife Area. Here, you'll find a 20-acre pond and a surrounding marsh-like area. This area is off the beaten path of the island and affords a quiet reprieve during the busy summer months. If you tread lightly, you can observe some unique wildlife, including turtles, waterfowl, and the rare Lake Erie water snake. As always, practice wild animal encounter safety and never approach or antagonize any animals you encounter in the park.
Middle Bass Island State Park is considered to be the boat lover's paradise. The island is located just south of the Canadian Border on Lake Erie. In the park, you'll find the marina that docks up to 190 boats. This makes the park the perfect place to stay for those on a long boating trip. If you're planning to camp at the park, but you took the ferry, you can rent kayaks and canoes within the park at the park office. Follow the Middle Bass Island Water Trail around the whole island to get a unique perspective of the park. Always keep an eye on the weather when on a small boat, as the tide can get a bit dangerous.
Whether you're camping with family or friends, there's no better way to enjoy the evening more than fun group games. Located within the campground, you'll find many games such as cornhole, horseshoes, and ladder ball. These games are first come, first serve, so there are no rentals or reservations required.
Middle Bass Island is the perfect state park if you're looking for the change to have a picnic. While the campsites each have their own picnic table and fire pit, there are two picnic shelters in the park that can accommodate large groups. While these are reservation only and require a fee, they are the perfect places for meetings, reunions, and celebrations. The shelter near the winery has a fireplace, electric outlets, and picnic tables. The Lonz Patio Plaza Shelter includes tables with chairs, umbrellas, and electrical outlets. The Winery Shelter accommodates 120 people, while the Lonz Patio Plaza Shelter accommodates 140 people.