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USA Parks
Northwest Ohio Region
South Bass Island State Park
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South Bass Island State Park Perry Peace Memorial © Jeff Hudak
Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry Peace Memorial.
South Bass Island State Park The Butterfly House © Jeff Hudak
One of the Butterfly authorities-thanks for the information Chuck
South Bass Island State Park The Butterfly House © Jeff Hudak
South Bass Island
South Bass Island State Park The Butterfly House © Jeff Hudak
South Bass Island
South Bass Island State Park Perry Peace Memorial © Jeff Hudak
View of the Peace Memorial, atop the Jet Express, bound for Kelleys Island.
South Bass Island State Park Perry Peace Memorial © Jeff Hudak
View of the Peace Memorial from atop the Jet Express, bound for Kelleys Island.
Availability Search
1523 Catawba Ave
Put-In-Bay, Ohio   43456
(lat:41.6427 lon:-82.8355) map location

Phone: (419) 285-2112
Reservations: 866-644-6727
The family campground features 125 non-electric sites, and 10 full service sites with electric, water and sewer hook-ups. The campground offers flush toilets, showers, and a dump station. Pet camping is permitted on designated sites. A youth group camp is available by reservation for organized groups. Four cabents, combining the best features of a cabin and tent, are available through a lottery system for weekly rental from Memorial Day to the last weekend in September. A separate lottery is held for rental of the rustic cabin located near the park office. Contact the Catawba Island park office for lottery details. A picnic shelter, picnic areas, launch ramp, fishing pier and small stone beach area are also available. South Bass Island is accessible by ferry from Port Clinton or Catawba Island.
Nature of the Area
Limestone cliffs, historic wineries, crystal caverns and a shimmering Great Lake greet visitors to the Lake Erie Islands state parks. These five state parks offer unique island retreats with an atmosphere both festive and casual. Fishing, boating and swimming can be enjoyed at each park.

Several parks comprise the Lake Erie Island group. The islands were formed during the glacial period when massive ice sheets entered Ohio. Glaciers gouged and scoured the bedrock; their tremendous weight left deep depressions which filled with meltwater, forming the Great Lakes.

Lake Erie, the smallest of the Great Lakes, is shallow--allowing for violent storms with high waves. The lake is divided into three basins. The western basin has an average depth of 25 to 30 feet; the central basin averages 61 feet; and the eastern basin shows an average depth of 120 feet.

Lake Erie has high nutrient levels and warm temperatures which produce greater numbers and varieties of fish than any other Great Lake. Annual catches nearly equal the combined catch of all other Great Lakes. Yellow perch, smallmouth bass, white bass, channel catfish and walleye are dominant species.

The islands are composed of limestone bedrock. Small scratches in the rock surface known as glacial striations are common while major grooves such as those found at Kelleys Island are rare but awesome. Vast stands of red cedar and the presence of underground caverns, both associated with limestone are found here. The islands and shoreline support a variety of reptiles including the state's highest concentration of the harmless fox snake. The timber rattlesnake was at one time quite prevalent on the islands but is now gone from the area. Rattlesnake Island was so named due to the presence of this reptile years ago.

Migrating songbirds rest here before winging across the lake. Hundreds of different species have been identified, making this one of the best birdwatching areas in the country. Several nesting pairs of the magnificent bald eagle are located in the area.
History of the Area
Prior to the War of 1812, the Lake Erie Island region had been occupied by Ottawa and Huron (Wyandot) Indian tribes at different times throughout the years. A testimony to their existence on the islands is carved in Inscription Rock on Kelleys Island. Pictographic writings over 500 years old are etched in this massive limestone boulder.The Ottawa and Huron were eventually moved out by European settlers. The War of 1812 ended the last Indian threat to the European settlement of Ohio. One decisive naval battle of that war was fought in Put-In-Bay, off the shores of South Bass Island. Oliver Hazard Perry with an inferior fleet defeated the British making famous his saying, "We have met the enemy and they are ours." The victory gave the Americans control of Lake Erie and led to the ultimate defeat of the British in that war.

The islands remained sparsely settled until 1854 when J.D. Rivers purchased five of the islands. At first he turned Put-In-Bay into a sheep ranch, having at one time a herd of 2,000, but eventually he converted the island into a fruit farm. Despite the extreme northern location, the islands have the longest frost-free period of any area in Ohio due to the stabilizing effect of the lake.

It soon became apparent to islanders that the cultivation of grapes was very profitable. The grape culture has had a dramatic influence on the islands, sometimes called the "Wine Islands." By 1887, more than one-third of the grape product and nearly one-half of the wine product of the entire state was credited to this area. Wines from these islands were once pronounced by the best judges as being comparable to the best productions of France. Several island wineries still exist today.

In addition to raising fruits, the islands supported other profitable industries. Logging of red cedar, quarrying for limestone and the propagation of fish provided additional means of support.

For over a century, South Bass Island has been famous as a summer resort. Ruins of the Victory Hotel, destroyed by fire in 1919, are still evident. Tourism thrives today making the islands one of the most popular vacation spots in the state. The five areas comprising Lake Erie Island state parks were added to the state park system in the early 1950s.
Ohio does not have an annual pass and does not charge entrance fees to state parks.
GeneralLand, acres32
 Water, acresGreat Lake
 Picnic Shelters, #1
BoatingBoating LimitsUnlimited HP
 Seasonal Dock Rental20
 Launch Ramps, #1
CampingPrimitive, #125
 Full Hookup Sites, #10
 Pets Permittedyes
 Flush Toiletsyes
 Camper Cabins, #5
 Youth Group Camp, capacity50
WinterIce Skatingyes
 Ice Fishingyes
Nearby Accommodations
businesss listing main photo
Camp Patmos - Kelleys Island, OH
Conference Center
Week long youth camps. Located on the shores of Kelleys Island. Guests will learn to sail, wakeboard, waterski while enjoying the beauty of the Lake Erie island.
7.3 miles from park*
South Bass Island State Park in Ohio offers several swimming options for visitors to enjoy. Located on the southern tip of South Bass Island in Lake Erie, this state park provides opportunities for both beach and pier swimming.

The park features a beautiful sandy beach along the lakeshore, where visitors can take a refreshing dip in the cool waters of Lake Erie. Lifeguards are on duty during designated swim hours to ensure the safety of all swimmers. There are also designated swimming areas to keep swimmers separate from boating activities.

For those who prefer swimming off a pier, the state park offers a pier that extends out into the lake. Visitors can swim alongside the pier or jump off into the deeper waters. This is a popular spot for more adventurous swimmers looking for a unique and exciting swimming experience.

In addition to swimming, South Bass Island State Park offers other recreational activities such as fishing, boating, picnicking, and camping. The park has picnic tables and grills available for visitors to use, making it a great place for a family outing or a gathering with friends. There are also camping facilities for those who wish to stay overnight and explore more of what the park has to offer.

South Bass Island State Park in Ohio is a great destination for anyone looking to enjoy a day of swimming in the beautiful waters of Lake Erie. With its sandy beach and pier swimming options, visitors are sure to have a memorable and enjoyable experience in this state park.
The park offers a variety of boating options for visitors. It features a boat launch ramp, allowing guests to bring their own watercrafts and explore the surrounding waters at leisure. There are also public docks available on-site where boats can be moored temporarily or overnight with an additional fee applied after 1 am. Jet ski rentals are offered as well within the vicinity, providing another exciting way to enjoy the lake's beauty.
South Bass Island State Park in Ohio offers a variety of fishing options for both experienced and novice anglers. The park features a stone pier that extends into Lake Erie, providing an excellent spot to cast your line. You can fish from the shore or launch your boat at the available ramp if you prefer deep water fishing.

The lake is home to several species of game fish including Yellow Perch, Smallmouth Bass, Walleye which are most sought after by fishermen due to their size and taste. Other common catches include Channel Catfish and Freshwater Drum (Sheepshead). Please note that all state fishing regulations apply within South Bass Island State Park.

South Bass Island State Park offers several picnicking options for visitors. The park has numerous picnic tables scattered throughout the area, providing a perfect spot to enjoy a meal while taking in the beautiful views of Lake Erie.

For larger groups or family gatherings, there are also two shelter houses available on site that can be reserved ahead of time. These shelters come equipped with grills and plenty of seating space making it ideal for barbecues or parties.

If you prefer something more intimate and secluded, pack your own blanket and basket then head out to one of many open grassy areas within the park where you can set up your private picnic spot under shady trees overlooking scenic vistas.

The state park is home to various species so birdwatchers might want their binoculars handy during lunchtime as they may catch sight some interesting birds from their chosen spots!

Additionally, if fishing is part of your plan at South Bass Island State Park; why not turn it into an exciting fish-picnic day? There's nothing like freshly caught grilled fish by lakeside! Just remember all Ohio fishing regulations apply here too.

Lastly but certainly not least - don't forget about beachside picnics! With its small stone beach offering stunning sunset views over lake Erie - this could easily become favorite place for evening meals after long fun-filled days exploring what else island has offer!
Biking is a popular activity, with rentals available onsite. However, caution should be exercised due to hilly terrain and traffic. The park's paved roads offer scenic routes for cyclists but can get busy during peak times. Helmets are highly recommended as safety measures while biking around the area.

Off-road cycling isn't permitted in order to protect natural habitats within the park boundaries. Always follow posted signs and respect other visitors when bicycling through this beautiful location.

Remember that all trails close at dusk unless otherwise stated so plan your trip accordingly!
1. South Bass Island Loop Trail: A 2-mile trail that winds through dense forests, offering glimpses of the island's diverse flora and fauna.

2. Jane Coates Wildflower Trail: An enchanting half-mile path adorned with a vibrant array of wildflowers in springtime; perfect for botany enthusiasts or those seeking tranquility amidst nature.

3. Massie Cliffside Preserve Trails: These trails offer stunning views over Lake Erie's shimmering waters from atop limestone cliffs, providing an adrenaline rush to thrill-seekers and photographers alike.

4. Scheeff East Point Nature Reserve Pathway: This short but scenic route takes hikers along rocky shorelines teeming with birdlife - ideal for ornithologists or anyone who enjoys watching wildlife in their natural habitat.

5. Oak Point State Park Walking Paths: Offering panoramic vistas across Put-in-Bay Harbor while meandering past historic lighthouses and quaint marinas - these paths are steeped both in beauty as well as history.

6. Stone Lab Research Building Walkways: Paved walkways around this research facility provide opportunities to learn about local ecology whilst enjoying serene lakefront scenes at sunset.

7. Perry's Victory & International Peace Memorial Grounds: Though not traditional hiking trails per se, exploring these grounds on foot offers insight into significant historical events alongside awe-inspiring monument views against clear blue skies during summer months.

8. Dodge Woods Preserve Tracks: Short yet immersive tracks leading you deep within lush woodlands where one can spot rare insects, birds ,and even occasional deer if lucky enough.

9. Kuehnle Wildlife Area Hiking Routes: Unmarked routes traversing wetland habitats richly populated by migratory waterfowl species ; best suited for adventurous souls ready to tread off beaten track under expert guidance only due safety concerns related marshy terrains involved here.

10. South Bass Island Lighthouse Footpaths: Winding paths leading up to this iconic lighthouse, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding waters and distant mainland. Ideal for a leisurely stroll or romantic evening walk under starlit skies.

11. South Bass Island State Park Campground Trails: These trails weave through camping areas providing easy access to park amenities while also serving as perfect routes for early morning jogs or late:night walks amidst nature's soothing soundscape.

12. Lakefront Promenade Paths: Paved pathways running along South Bass Island's picturesque lakefront; ideal for relaxed strolls with frequent stops at benches strategically placed to soak in serene water vistas.
The park offers a variety of birding options, with its diverse habitats attracting numerous species. It is particularly popular during the spring and fall migration seasons when rare birds can often be spotted. The area's woodlands, meadows, cliffs and lake shorelines provide excellent opportunities for spotting songbirds, waterfowl and raptors among others. Birdwatchers may also participate in organized events such as guided walks or bird identification workshops that are occasionally offered within the park.
Area Attractions
Several other state parks are near the Lake Erie Islands. Crane Creek State Park, west of Port Clinton, is one of the state's foremost birding areas and is notable for its spring and fall bird migrations. East Harbor State Park on Marblehead Peninsula sports the largest campground in the Ohio state park system. Swimming, picnicking, boating and fishing are popular at East Harbor. Marblehead Lighthouse, built in 1821, is the oldest lighthouse in continuous operation of the Great Lakes and Ohio's 73rd state park. It is located off S.R. 163 on the east side of the Village of Marblehead.

State nature preserves located in the area include Sheldon Marsh, Old Woman Creek, Erie Sand Barrens and DuPont Marsh. Contact the ODNR Division of Natural Areas and Preserves for more information.

The Ottawa County Visitors Bureau is an excellent source for travel options and ideas all around the Lake Erie Islands area.
Things To Do in the Area
businesss listing main photo
Camp Patmos - Kelleys Island, OH
Family Outting
Week long youth camps. Located on the shores of Kelleys Island. Guests will learn to sail, wakeboard, waterski while enjoying the beauty of the Lake Erie island.
7.3 miles from park*

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Area Fishing Related Businesses
Herb's Sportsman's Supply
1713 NE Catawba Rd
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Fishermens Trading Post
255 Se Catawba Rd
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Rickard's Bait & Tackle
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Area Cabins and Lodges
Beach Cliff Lodge
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Char-Nel Shores Resorts
2327 E Sand Rd
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Shores Condominium Resort The
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(419) 734-2169
Fort Firelands RV Park
5650 East Harbor Rd
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(419) 734-1237
Skippers Marina & Resort
7555 East Harbor Rd
Lakeside Marblhd, OH
(419) 734-3664
Area Accommodations (over 20 miles away)
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Enjoy Southeast Michigan's Best Family Camping experience at our clean, quiet, friendly campground. Jumping Pillow, WiFi, Paddle Boats, Minigolf, Swimming, Bicycling and more
61.1 miles from park*
Nearby Hotels

Catawba Island , 4049 E. Moores Dock Road, Port Clinton, OH 43452

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Ohio State Parks