South Bass Island State Park | Outdoorsy

South Bass Island State Park
Guide

Introduction

RV campers looking for a unique camping experience should sleep under the stars, surrounded by the water of Lake Erie. Ohio’s South Bass Island State Park is different than most state parks in the nation because visitors must take a ferry to access the island facility.

The park is a scenic landmark that sits atop the white cliffs of South Bass Island. The elevated location gives visitors panoramic views of Lake Erie, which makes the wooded campground even more enticing. Should visitors want to experience more state-owned land, then head across the island to South Bass Island’s sister park, Oak Point State Park, for more outdoor adventure!

South Bass Island is a special place to visit. Once you and your RV arrive by ferry, there will be plenty of things to see and do during your stay, including swimming, fishing, boating, and hiking. The small island is three miles long by two miles wide, but filled with places to eat, drink, and have a good time. When it comes to accommodation, the park has got you covered. Choose between RV campsites with full hookups, an electrical hookup, or no hookups. If you want to take a break from your RV, you can enjoy some of the park's cabnets, a combination of a tent and a cabin.

Recreation outside of the park is also abundant, and there are many different places to rent recreational equipment like boats and bikes, or you can take a narrated tour on the island’s train. South Bass Island combines the serenity of a state park with fun and entertainment for the entire family. Your motorhome trip to the island will be one you will never forget.

RV Rentals in South Bass Island State Park

Transportation

Driving

This state park is located on an island in the middle of Lake Erie. It is conveniently located 54 miles east of Toledo and 83 miles northwest of Cleveland, Ohio. Interested campers and guests should note that you must take a ferry to access the South Bass Island State Park. Visitors can take a ferry from Port Clinton or Catawba Island. If catching a ferry is just not for you, then you can take the more costly option - flying. You can fly to Put-in-Bay airport and sort out camping and transportation arrangments when you get there.

Campers won't need to worry about getting groceries or grabbing a bite to eat while on the island. Put-in-Bay has plenty of places for you to get something to eat and stock up on groceries less than a mile from the park. Everything is so closely located that you can walk or cycle around if you want to.

Once inside the park, the road remains paved and spacious enough for even the largest of rigs. Be sure to keep an eye out for pedestrians, cyclists, and wildlife as you drive through the park. Campers can go ahead and check in to their campsite before venturing out to explore the rest of the park and activities available. Before planning your trip, ensure your reserved campsite allows enough room for your rig and any slide outs you might have.

Parking

You won't have to worry about finding parking when you visit South Bass Island State Park. Parking is spread out throughout the park, including at the day-use area, the park office, near the glacial grooves, and throughout the campground.

Public Transportation

Campgrounds and parking in South Bass Island State Park

Campsites in South Bass Island State Park

Reservations camping

South Bass Island State Park Campground

The South Bass Island Campground is a pet-friendly facility that provides campers with a unique campground experience. The park, located on an island, is surrounded by water. Campers pulling RVs, campers, and trailers, access the island by ferry and spend the night surrounded by the soothing sounds of Lake Erie.

The seasonally-operated campground has three types of spaces. Choose from the full hookup, electric only, or non-electric sites. The campground provides campground guests with access to hydrants, a dump station, restrooms, and showers. All of the campsites have a picnic table and a fire ring. Campers will only have to go a short distance to reach nearby activities and facilities like a children's playground, Stone Beach, the dock, and fish cleaning facility.

Only certain sites are pet-friendly and campers who bring along their furry friends on their camping trip will want to book those. Pet-friendly sites include sites 19, 20, 22, 23, 24, 99, and 100. Quiet hours are from 10:00 PM to 7:00 AM. Please silence your generators during these hours.

First-come first-served

South Bass Island State Park Campground

During the month of April, sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The rest of the peak season, from May until October, reservations are required.

Alternate camping

Youth Group Camping

Organized groups of youths can enjoy the group camping facilities at South Bass Island State Park. The site can accommodate up to 50 people at a time. The site is conveniently situated near a parking area and campers won't have to go far to park their cars. Group campers will also have nearby access to the beach, docks, and children's playground. Campers will also be able to see the nearby glacial grooves, a stunning sight caused when glaciers move downstream and retreat from the rocks they used to cover, scratching and making grooves in them.

Cabin Camping

Those looking for an escape from their RV on their next camping trip can enjoy the comforts of cabins and cabnets when they stay at South Bass Island State Park. Cabnets are a combination of a tent and a cabin, drawing together the best aspects of both to produce a unique and comfortable accommodation option.

The park features four of these cabnets, which stand on stilts above the ground, meaning you don't have to worry when it rains, and you can have a splendid view. These are available to reserve from the end of May till the end of September using a lottery system.

A rustic cabin is also available to reserve using the same lottery method. It is situated along the same stretch as the cabnets. Both cabin and cabnet campers have nearby access to the beach area, children's playground, and the dock.

Seasonal activities in South Bass Island State Park

In-Season

Boating

If you love spending the warm days of summer on the water, then you will enjoy all of the boating opportunities on South Bass Lake Island. If you are unable to bring your own watercraft, you can rent kayaks, fishing boats, powerboats, and other types of personal watercraft from many of the rental facilities on the island. If you bring your boat, the closest access point to the water is from the public boat launch located near the picnic area. If you brought along your fishing gear, you can try your hand at fishing while out on the water. Before heading out on the water, ensure you know the proper boating laws for the area.

Exploring Put-in-Bay

Put-in-Bay is a vibrant island community just waiting to be explored. You can rent golf carts or bikes at local vendors just outside of the park to cruise around in style. Outdoor train tours give you a unique way to see all the nooks and crannies of the island. There's a local fun center where visitors can rock climb, mini-golf, mine for gemstones, get lost in a maze, or visit the butterfly house. If snacking and visiting old cars are your thing, then pick up a treat and head to the Antique Car Museum.

Day-Use Areas

The park is so beautiful that you will want to spend the majority of your time outdoors. Pack a picnic lunch and head to the small picnic area where you can enjoy eating your meal at one of the picnic tables overlooking the water. The picnic area is on the northwest side of the island near Put-in-Bay. Water and restrooms are nearby, so guests don’t have to go far to access those amenities. After lunch, take the family to the small stone beach and swim in one of the designated swim areas or play on the little playground outside of the park office. Everything in the day-use area is closely located, so you can plan your day bouncing back and forth between activities.

Off-Season

Fishing

You don’t have to own or rent a boat to fish in Lake Erie. South Bass Island State Park provides its guests with access to a fishing pier and shoreline fishing area, as well as the use of the fish cleaning house. Bring your tackle and fish for walleye, yellow perch, smallmouth bass, white bass, and channel catfish, and then take your catch back to the cleaning house to prepare it for dinner. If you don’t have your own fishing equipment, there are many locations on the island that rent and sell fishing gear. If you plan on fishing, be aware that Ohio State Law requires that all anglers over the age of 16 own and possess a valid fishing license.

Hiking

Although there are not any official hiking trails inside of South Bass Island State Park, that doesn’t mean that hikers won’t have a place to walk and sightsee during their trip to the island. The Jane Coates Wildflower Trail, a half-mile trail owned by the Put-in-Bay Township and Park District, is a protected nature trail that offers visitors views of wildflowers and migrating birds along their hike. The blue ash, chinquapin oak, and hackberry woodlands shade the path and house many different bird species, a bonus for birders visiting the park. The trailhead is located about .25 miles north of the Maple Leaf Cemetery on Put-in-Bay Road. Be sure to take along water and some snacks to keep you energized along the trail.

Glacial Grooves

South Bass Island was formed during the glacial period, and remnants of the glacial presence are still evident on the island today. During the formation of the Great Lakes, giant sheets of ice descended onto the land, which is now present-day Ohio. When the climate warmed and melted the glaciers, the broken segmented ice chunks bumped into the earth and left behind huge gouges and indentations across the bedrock. The glacial grooves, now a permanent feature in the land, can be seen in many spots along South Bass Island. During your visit to the park, head to the area between the park office and the campground and see these massive indentations in the land. Having the opportunity to enjoy this natural wonder is a huge privilege!

Find the perfect campsite.