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Ohio State Parks

USA Parks
Southeast Ohio Region
Muskingum River Parkway
Muskingum River Parkway Kids having fun © Eric Hoffman
Muskingum River Parkway © Eric Hoffman
1390 Ellis Dam Rd
Zanesville, Ohio   43701
(lat:39.6285 lon:-81.8498)

Phone: 740-767-3570
Reservations: 866-644-6727
The Muskingum River Parkway and its 160-year-old navigation system were designated a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers in July 2001. Along with such majestic institutions as Hoover Dam, The Empire State Building and the Golden Gate Bridge, the Muskingum River's 10 hand-operated locks are now recognized as one of America's great engineering accomplishments.

In its day, the system of locks and dams that extends 112 miles through southeastern Ohio, helped open the state and the entire Midwest to trade and development. Today, it serves the needs of more than 7,000 recreational boaters each year who come to fish, picnic and play in the scenic Muskingum Valley.
Parkway Map (pdf)
Nature of the Area
The Muskingum River is formed by the confluence of the Walhonding and Tuscarawas rivers in Coshocton, Ohio. From there, it flows south through Zanesville where it is joined by the Licking River until it eventually drains into the Ohio River at Marietta. This mighty river travels 112 miles in all, traversing the scenic hill country.

The rich floodplains of the Muskingum provide suitable conditions for walnut, elm, cottonwood and sycamore. Dense paw-paw thickets line the banks of the river. A rich diversity of bird life and mammals share the wooded shores. The Muskingum provides a remarkable fishery including catches of huge shovelhead catfish. The mighty Ohio muskellunge was once abundant in the Muskingum and its tributaries, but its population has declined in recent years. A number of rare fish share the waters such as sanddarters, northern madtoms, mooneyes and channel darters. The Muskingum and its tributaries have long supported large and diverse populations of freshwater mussels. Dissolved limestone in the river is used by the mussels in constructing their shells. The Muskingum River system supports the last remaining Ohio populations of mussels such as monkeyface shell, fan shell, Ohio pigtoe and the butterfly shell.
History of the Area
The Muskingum River, because of its size and location, has played an important role in Ohio's history. It is the largest river lying solely within Ohio, draining an area equal to one-fifth of the entire state.

Missionaries settled along the headwaters of this picturesque river in 1761. The first permanent settlement in Ohio was established in 1788 at Marietta. One of the city's founders, General Rufus Putnam, recognized the economic potential of the Muskingum River for transporting raw materials to eastern markets and brought in New England shipbuilders. In 1824, steam-powered paddle wheelers joined the flatboat and keelboat traders, generating public support for river navigation.

West Point graduate Major Samuel Curtis designed a system of 10 dams and 11 locks to connect the Muskingum River to the Ohio and Erie Canal at Dresden. Opened in 1841, the system provided navigable waterways from Marietta to Lake Erie.
Ohio does not have an annual pass and does not charge entrance fees to state parks.
GeneralLand, acres120
 Water, acres-13
 Hiking Trail, miles1
 Nature Programsyes
BoatingBoating LimitsUnlimited HP
 Launch Rampsyes
CampingPrimitive, #28
 Pets Permittedyes
A camping area is provided at Lock 11. There are 20 campsites off State Route 60 and County Road 49 in Muskingum County. Water, picnic tables, fire rings and latrines are provided. Pets are permitted in the camping area at Ellis. There are eight boaters-only, primitive campsites at Lock #5, Luke Chute.
Nearby Vacation Rentals
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It is suggested that prior to departing for a boat trip on the Muskingum River, boaters contact the park office to check on river and lock conditions. Boats with unlimited horsepower motors, house boats, pontoon boats, canoes and rowboats travel the river. Public launch ramps are provided at Locks 4, 5, 6 and 11. Private ramps are located near Locks 2, 7 and 10.

The Muskingum River is navigable from Dresden to Marietta. However, the river channel from Dresden to Ellis is unmarked and difficult to follow. Information on navigation charts can be obtained at the parkway office.

Some of the tributaries which empty into the Muskingum River are also navigable for short distances and provide excellent fishing. The Licking River which joins the Muskingum River in Zanesville, is navigable only by canoe or rowboat.
All three species of black bass (largemouth, smallmouth and spotted), saugeye and various species of catfish are taken from the river. Bass are also found in several tributaries. Fishing is permitted from boats and at each of the lock sites; however, fishing is prohibited from the lock walls. A valid Ohio fishing license is required.

Picnic tables, grills, latrines, and drinking water are available at all locks except Lock 9 at Philo in Muskingum County. Visitors are requested to build fires only in the grills provided and to dispose of all litter properly.
Area Attractions
Blue Rock State Park and State Forest, east off State Route 60 on Culter Lake Road (CR 45), is between Philo and Rokeby. Camping, fishing, hiking, swimming, boating and picnicking are available. Approximately six miles above the mouth of the Licking is Dillon State Park, off State Route 146. Campsites, cabins, fishing, hiking, boating, swimming and picnicking are available.

The Wilds, located 17 miles southeast of Zanesville, contains a 9,154-acre wild animal preserve open to the public. Entrance fee required, hours vary by season. For details call (740) 638-5030.

For more information about the Muskingum River, contact Zanesville/Muskingum Visitors Bureau at 1-800-743-2303, the Marietta Tourist Bureau at 1-800-228-2577 or the Ohio Division of Travel and Tourism at 1-800-BUCKEYE.

Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews
August 14 Dredging lock entrance
Channel markers below stockport lock were way down river,no idea as to where channel was, broke chunks out of my scag when hit rock, entrance to next lock down was 1 1/2 feet deep, got hung up and sucked mud into sea water pump, tore it up. Parkway needs to do a better job keeping parkway usable
November 9 Great Boating ! ! by Mitch
Boated from North of Zanesville to McConnalsville and back in a day. Locks are great. Everybody must see them operate.
September 3 Nice river and locks by Tim
We canoed and kayaked the whole river in four and a half days. Camped at the locks. Ellis is nice campground but Luke Chute is an excellent camp. All the lock tenders were helpful and nice.
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Area Accommodations (over 20 miles away)
Cottages and Cabins
Trickle Creek offers luxury cabins in Hocking Hills. The cabins are situated on nearly 236 acres of secluded cabin rentals in the deep wooded ravines in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in Hocking County, Ohio.
36 miles from park*
Hidden Cave Cabin - Rockbridge, OH
Cottages and Cabins
Hidden Cave Cabin is an authentic log cabin with 2 bedrooms in a private wooded setting. It is located on one of the most scenic drives in Hocking Hills and just 3.6 miles to Rock House and less than 10 miles to Conkle's Hollow and Old Man's Cave.
40.2 miles from park*
TK Cabins - New Plymouth, OH
Cottages and Cabins
Cozy two bedroom cabin with large front porch on five acres overlooking a 3/4 acre fully stocked pond. Located in southern Hocking County just minutes from Hocking Hills caves, Nelsonville, Logan and Laurelville.
32.4 miles from park*
Our Life Lodge - New Plymouth, OH
Cottages and Cabins
5 Bedroom, Newly Furnished, Hot Tub. Located on 330 private acres. Wayne National and Zaleski State Forest Both within one mile of property. Over 20 miles of established horse, atv, hiking trails on property.
33.7 miles from park*


Ohio State Parks