Fall is a great time to camp on Ohio’s Lake Erie Islands

A clifftop campsite at South Bass Island State Park offers gorgeous views—just watch where you step.

SANDUSKY – Summer may be almost over, but don’t pack that tent up in the attic just yet.

Early fall is a terrific time to camp in Ohio, especially on or near the state’s Lake Erie islands. This time of year, cooler weather, smaller crowds (of people and insects), and beautiful fall foliage add to the allure of crashing waves, abundant wildlife, and a delightful sense of seclusion , all just a few hours from your home.

Several Ohio state parks offer camping on the islands or on the adjacent shore. Reservations can be made at www.reserveohio.com.

Most Ohio State Park campgrounds have spots for RVs large and small, some with full hookups.

South Bass Island Opportunities

South Bass Island State Park (www.ohiodnr.gov/go-and-do/plan-a-visit/find-a-property/south-bass-island-state-park) is located on the quiet side of the island, across from Put- in-Bay, the island’s fun and sometimes rowdy little town.

Although a slower pace arrives with cool evenings, there’s still plenty to see and do in South Bass in the fall, including two wineries, numerous bars and restaurants, and Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial, a site of the National Park Service.

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And the state park campground provides the perfect base for exploration.

About 130 electric, non-electric, and full-plug-in RV sites are available, with about half of the sites reserved for tent camping.

The sun sets behind Green Island, as seen from the South Bass Island State Park Campground.

Tent sites located along the park’s lake bluffs offer some of the best views in the entire park system, with sweeping views of Lake Erie; the mainland around Port Clinton; and close to Green Island, a National Wildlife Refuge. (Campground 97 might be my favorite.)

Campsites are available until October 24 and must be reserved in advance.

Getting to South Bass is easy aboard the Jet Express (www.jet-express.com), a passenger ferry departing from Port Clinton (service is limited to Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from September 25 to October 30); or Miller Boat Line (www.millerferry.com), a passenger and vehicle ferry service departing from Catawba several times a day.

A tent is perched atop the cliff by the lake in South Bass Island State Park.

What’s going on at Kelleys Island?

Kelleys Island, the state’s largest island, has a reputation for being more low-key than South Bass Island, but, like its neighbor, offers plenty of wineries, restaurants, museums and shopping.

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Kelleys Island State Park (www.ohiodnr.gov/go-and-do/plan-a-visit/find-a-property/kelleys-island-state-park) has a lakeside campground with over 120 electric sites, no electric and fully hooked up. Like South Bass, Kelleys Island Campground offers shower stalls with flush toilets.

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