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In southeast Ohio, approximately 70 miles from Columbus, is where you will find Muskingum River State Park. This state park is easy to visit when you book an RV in Muskingum County and was originally designated as an Ohio State Park in 1958. One of the park’s main purposes is to celebrate the importance of the Muskingum River, which is one of the longest continually navigable rivers that traverse Ohio.
Muskingum River State Park focuses on a section of the Muskingum River Parkway, which is home to a series of 10 dams and 11 locks, which were designed by Major Samuel Curtis and originally opened in 1841. This navigation system is part of the National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark collection and was designated by the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2001. It is even possible to spend the night camping with an RV near one of the locks, which is still in operation on the river, by RV camping at Muskingum River State Park.
As Muskingum State Park's primary focus is on the river, most of the activities in the park are focused on spending time on or near the water. Picnicking is a fantastic way to spend time near the water, and there are many different picnic spots and pavilions located throughout the park to enjoy the scenery from while you have a meal. All of the picnic tables throughout the park, unless otherwise posted, are first-come, first-served, so be sure to show up early with your rental RV to enjoy a meal with a view.
Fishing is also popular, and there are many different places from which to cast a line. All three main species of black bass, including largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted, in addition to various species of catfish and saugeye, can be found in the river. Fishing is permitted from a boat, and at each of the lock sites along the river, just be sure not to climb on the lock walls. A valid Ohio fishing license is required, so make sure you get that sorted out before casting your first line.
Boating on the Muskingum River offers a unique opportunity of traversing the various hand-operated locks, and there is no horsepower limit for boaters here. Everything from jet skis to houseboats, pontoons to kayaks are allowed on the river, and there are numerous boat docks located along its span. Traversing the locks isn’t hard, but it does require some technical knowhow that can be learned on the spot from the lockmaster on duty.
Although the state park RV campgrounds at Muskingum River State Park is a bit limited with less than 20 sites, there are many options in the surrounding area to enjoy some motorhome camping. At Muskingum River State Park, there are 19 non-electrical sites that have their own water hookups, a picnic table, a fire ring, and centrally located toilets shared by the campground. Pets are permitted at this campground, but sites close during the winter season.
Other camping options exist in the area, and one such option is located south along the Muskingum River. Riversedge Campground and Marina is a privately owned and operated campground, so expect staying here to be slightly different than what you’d expect from state park RV camping. Many campsites at this campground overlook the river and offer full hookups, and there are also onsite showers and bathrooms shared by all campers.
Just north of Muskingum River State Park is McConnelsville, a small town with an assortment of modern amenities, restaurants, and attractions to keep you entertained. The riverwalk in town is a great way to spend the day, and a visit to the Twin City Opera House is a fantastic way to spend the evening. There are also plenty of gas stations and grocery stores in town, so fueling up both your RV and your family should be a breeze.
Heading further north along the river will take you to Zanesville, a far larger city that is home to museums and other modern attractions. Zanesville has the Muskingum County History Museum, which includes information on a historic underground railroad stop. Additionally, the Dr. Increase Mathews House Museum and Gardens is a great place to spend the afternoon, as it is set in a house built in 1805 and has many local history exhibits to explore. On the north side of town is the Zanesville Museum of Art, which showcases both American and European artists.
Zanesville is split by the Muskingum River, and on the west side of the river is Zane State College. Thanks in part to the student presence, there are many diverse restaurants throughout town to enjoy while you camp in an RV near Zanesville. Many Italian and Mexican restaurants are located in town, in addition to local breweries, cafes, and burger joints. There are also many of the standard fast food options you’d expect in a small town, which makes it easy to grab something familiar while passing through.