7 Best Lakes in Ohio (and Awesome Nearby Campsites)

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7 Best Lakes in Ohio (and Awesome Nearby Campsites)

Ohio is full of lakes and reservoirs. Whether camping on the shores of Lake Erie or fishing in one of the smaller lakes in Ohio, you’re sure to enjoy your vacation around the state.

Out of the many lakes in Ohio, we found the seven best… plus some awesome campsites nearby!

Ready to learn more? Let’s dive in:

Lake Erie

Lake Erie is one of the five Great Lakes of North America. It has the fourth-largest surface area of the Great Lakes and the 11th largest in the world. However, its volume is the smallest of the Great Lakes. At its deepest, it is only 210 feet.

Location: The largest of the lakes in Ohio, Lake Erie’s southern shore comprises Ohio’s northernmost boundary. Lake Erie’s northern shore is in Ontario, Canada.

Great Nearby Campsite: Cedar Point Resort

Cedar Point Resort / Lighthouse Point Campground sits right on the shore of Lake Erie. It is located near Sandusky and has 120 full hook-up RV sites and 156 cabins and cottages.

Amenities include:

  • Three bathhouses
  • Two laundry facilities
  • Complimentary wifi
  • Shuffleboard court
  • Outdoor water play area
  • An outdoor pool and hot tub
  • Lake Erie pier and Cedar Point beach access
  • Jetski and parasail rentals

Cedar Point Resort is within walking distance of the 18 Cedar Point roller coasters and Cedar Point Shores Waterpark. If you want to visit the rest of Cedar Point Peninsula, take the complimentary shuttle provided by the resort.

Ohio Lake Vibes Score: 9.0/10

lake erie: lakes in ohio

Salt Fork Lake

In addition to Lake Erie, Salt Fork Lake is one of the most popular lakes in Ohio. Created in 1967, it was supposed to supply drinking water to the city of Cambridge but became a recreation destination instead.

It is a little over 3,000 acres in size and is around 35 feet at its deepest point. There are 63 miles of shoreline to enjoy.

Salt Fork Lake attracts anglers, water skiers, and other recreational boaters. Water ski zones are separated from no-wake areas designated for anglers and paddlers in canoes and kayaks. 

Visitors without a boat can hop aboard the Salt Fork Queen for a cruise around the lake.

Location: Salt Fork Lake is located in Guernsey County near the town of Cambridge, in the beautiful hills of southeast Ohio.

Great Nearby Campsite: Salt Fork State Park

Salt Fork State Park is Ohio’s largest state park. It encompasses 17,229 acres and has a multitude of recreational activities available to visitors.

Amenities include:

  • 215 campsites that include electric hookups, some full hookups
  • Primitive camping area – 22 walk-in sites
  • 40 primitive equestrian campsites & 72 miles of bridle trails
  • 3 heated shower houses  
  • Coin-operated washers and dryers
  • 2 dump stations with fresh water available
  • Private beach and boat launching/docking 
  • One acre dog park with lake access for swimming
  • 2,500-foot public swimming beach
  • 18 hole golf course
  • 14 scenic hiking trails

While you’re visiting here, be sure to check out the Kennedy Stone House Museum. This historic home was built from sandstone quarried locally and overlooks Salt Fork Lake. 

Ohio Lake Vibes Score: 8.4/10

salt fork lake, lakes in ohio

Lake Hope

Lake Hope is 120 acres. It’s one of many lakes in Ohio only allowing boats with electric motors.

One boat ramp allows access to Lake Hope. It’s a peaceful lake perfect for fishing, kayaking,  and paddleboarding.

Location: Lake Hope is located less than five miles from the town of Zaleski in the beautiful Zaleski State Forest. 

Great Nearby Campsite: Lake Hope State Park

Lake Hope State Park is located along State Route 278. It is a rustic state park that offers electric and non-electric campsites. Walk-in sites are also available.

Visitors will love the shady, wooded areas of this campground.

Amenities include:

  • Heated shower houses and flush toilets
  • Sanitary dump station with potable water 
  • Laundry facilities
  • Picnic tables and fire rings
  • Homemade food at Lake Hope Dining Lodge 
  • Designated picnic areas
  • Basketball courts, horseshoe pits, and playgrounds in day-use areas
  • 600-foot swimming beach
  • Seven hiking trails
  • Eight mountain biking trails
  • Pontoon, canoe, kayak, and stand-up paddleboard rentals

While visiting the state park, take a walk past the ruins of the Hope Furnace. The furnace processed the iron ore from the sandstone bedrock of this region. Iron produced here was made into cannons and ammunition used by the Union Army during the Civil War.

Ohio Lake Vibes Score: 7.8/10

Pymatuning Lake

Created in 1934, Pymatuning Lake has 17,088 acres of surface area and is over 17 miles long. This is one of the most unusual lakes in Ohio, sharing its water across the state line with Pennsylvania. 

It is a recreation destination for anglers and pleasure boaters. Water skiing, tubing, or other towing of people behind a boat is prohibited. Boats can have a motor or motors with no more than 20 horsepower.

Location: Pymatuning Lake is in Ashtabula County in the northeasternmost corner of Ohio. It travels across the state line into Crawford County, Pennsylvania. 

A bridge spans the middle of the lake connecting the towns of Andover, Ohio and Espyville, Pennsylvania.

Great Nearby Campsite: Pymatuning State Park

Pymatuning State Park has 373 RV sites. Most have electricity and some have full hook-ups. Premium sites offer water views.

It is a very popular campground so make your reservations early as it fills up fast.

Amenities include:

  • Heated shower houses and flush bathrooms
  • Laundry facilities
  • Picnic pavilion
  • Nature programs
  • Playgrounds, basketball and volleyball courts
  • Small beach just for campers
  • Boat launch
  • Fishing pier
  • Free wifi access at camp office
  • Camp store
  • Dump station

Watch for the bald eagle pairs as they try their luck fishing in Pymatuning Lake.

Ohio Lake Vibes Score: 7.6/10

Mosquito Lake

Mosquito Lake is a man-made lake created to control flooding. It has 7,850 acres of surface area and is considered one of the largest inland lakes in Ohio.

There is no limit on horsepower for this lake. However, the north end of the lake is a game refuge and no boats are allowed.

Location: Mosquito Lake is located in Trumbull County in northeast Ohio. It is approximately six miles from Warren.

Great Nearby Campsite: Mosquito Lake State Park

Mosquito Lake State Park has 234 campsites. It offers both electric and non-electric sites. Most of the spots are shady and tucked away into the trees, while some have a lake view.

Amenities include:

  • Shower building with flush toilets; pit toilets at each loop
  • Boat launch and shoreline tie-ups
  • Free use of games and sports equipment for registered campers
  • Basketball and volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, playground area
  • Free archery range
  • 600-foot swimming beach
  • Free, 18-hole disc golf course
  • Four hiking trails
  • Butterfly garden near amphitheater
  • Free wifi access at camp office
  • Five-acre dog park with swimming beach adjacent to campground

Fishing is the most popular activity here. But if you’re a bird watcher, be on the lookout for yellow-bellied sapsuckers and hairy woodpeckers. Both are common in this part of the state. Add to that the numerous waterfowl, shorebirds, and birds of prey and it becomes a birder’s paradise.

Ohio Lake Vibes Score: 8.1/10

lakes in ohio
Image Source: Daniel Frost on Flickr

Turkey Creek Lake

Every year, visitors flock to Turkey Creek Lake for its annual Trout Derby—one of the most fun activities on this list of the best lakes in Ohio.

Turkey Creek Lake is a small 51-acre lake with a no-wake rule. This makes it perfect for anglers and people who want the solitude of canoeing, kayaking, and paddleboarding.

Location: Turkey Creek Lake is located in Scioto County in the southern part of the state. It is about 10 miles from Portsmouth.

Great Nearby Campsite:  Shawnee State Park

Shawnee State Park is 1,095 acres in the Shawnee State Forest. It has 108 campsites for tents and RVs. 94 of the sites have electric hookups.

Amenities include:

  • Heated shower houses and flush toilets
  • Laundry facilities
  • Dump station with potable water 
  • Boat rentals
  • Disc golf course and mini-golf course
  • Five picnic areas with grills and picnic tables
  • Nine hiking trails
  • Six mountain biking trails
  • Two equestrian bridle trails
  • Volleyball and basketball courts, tennis courts and shuffleboard
  • Archery range and horseshoe pits
  • Playground
  • Geocaching

Ohio Lake Vibes Score: 8.0/10

Tappan Lake

Tappan Lake covers 2,350 acres of water. It is the second largest inland lake on this list of the best lakes in Ohio. 

It is perfect for fishing, pleasure boating and personal watercraft like Jet-Skis.

This lake is part of the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District.

Location: Tappan Lake is located in Harrison County along Route 250.

Great Nearby Campsite: Tappan Lake Park

550 campsites are available at Tappan Lake Park. Sites range from primitive to full hook-up. All electric sites are 30 amp.

Amenities include:

  • Activity center with daily activities and nature center
  • Picnic pavilions
  • Laundry facilities
  • Beach with lifeguard
  • Volleyball and basketball courts, tennis courts and horseshoe pits
  • Boat and paddleboard rentals
  • Free wifi
  • Swimming lessons
  • Basketball camp every June
  • Camp store and concession stands
  • Hiking trails

It would be easy to spend the summer at this park. Be sure to check out their long-term rates.

Ohio Lake Vibes Score: 8.6/10

If you love boating, fishing, and the atmosphere of camping near water, visit any one of these lakes in Ohio. The variety of activities they offer families or the solo traveler is sure to make your getaway an unforgettable vacation.

Discover the Best Free Camping Across the USA

To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy).

You should give it a try!

As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours. Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.

Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers that love to score the best site! 

We’ll send you the 50 Best Free Campsites in the USA (one per state). Access the list by submitting your email below:

1 comment

  1. Great list! I need to try Lake Hope and Turkey Creek Lake since I live in NE Ohio and have never been to those 2!! Thank you for the information 🙂

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