It’s a Different World: Discovering Cincinnati’s 15 Best Camping Spots

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Megan Bryant is a passionate writer and traveler who has combined her two loves to help others fulfill their traveling dreams. When she isn’t writing, she’s usually curled up with her 3 Dachshunds and a good book or planning her next adventure—wherever that may be.

When you’re in desperate need to escape the hustle and bustle of downtown Cincinnati, camping amongst Ohio’s breathtaking nature really is the perfect respite.

With so many campgrounds within just a few hours from the city center, locals and tourists can experience the best of both worlds, so if you’re looking for your next break sleeping under the stars, then here are 15 of the top campgrounds surrounding Cincinnati’s vibrant city.

Big Bone Lick State Historic Site

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Roughly 30 miles southeast of Cincinnati is the Big Bone Lick State Historic Site, which offers visitors the chance to learn all about the area’s Native American History, paleontology, and geology. 

The site’s campground, which has 62 campsites, features utility hookups, a swimming pool, playgrounds, showers, and laundry facilities, making it one of the most comfortable and convenient sites within a short distance from Cincinnati. 

With opportunities to hike, bird watch, view bison, and discover salt springs, Big Bone Lick State Historic Site really is an excellent campground choice for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages.

Brookville Lake

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Slightly further out from Cincinnati—just under 50 miles northwest—is Brookville Lake, which is home to the Mounds State Recreation Area and the Quakertown State Recreation Area. 

Families, in particular, flock to Brookville Lake to take part in boating, fishing, paddle boarding, swimming, and water skiing as the lake—which spans over 5,000 acres—has nine accessible boat launches, making it an ideal summer vacation spot. 

Plus, if the water-based activities weren’t enough, even the area surrounding the lake offers plenty of entertainment. Visitors to Brookville Lake can set off on one of 25 hiking trails, explore the Indiana Birding Trail, and, of course, camp in one of the 400+ campsites—many of which have electrical hookup points.

Caesar Creek State Park

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Just under an hour’s drive northeast of Cincinnati is the Caesar Creek State Park, which boasts a 1,200-foot beach. Swimming, fishing, and water skiing are some of the most popular pastimes at Caesar Creek, with hiking and wildlife-watching opportunities also drawing in visitors and tourists to the serene surrounding area. 

Take my word for it when I say Caesar Creek is one of those places that you never want to leave, so the area’s 250 campsites that accommodate both tents and RVs can allow you to enjoy the creek for the entire weekend (or week if you’d prefer!)

Clifty Falls State Park

Cooking while Camping
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If you’re willing to drive 75 miles southeast of downtown Cincinnati, then Clifty Falls State Park is an area you shouldn’t overlook. People mainly visit Clifty Falls State Park to camp and hike as there are ten hiking trails—all varying in difficulty—that take you through canyons, past waterfalls, and along the Brough’s Folly 1852 railroad path. 

But even if hiking isn’t your thing and you still want to spend a few days camping in the area, then you can spend time relaxing at the park’s swimming pool before calling it a night and retreating to your electric (or non-electric) camping spot.

Cowan Lake State Park

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If you’re after a campground with facilities, look no further than the Cowan Lake State Park. Cowan Lake is just under an hour’s drive from the city and offers electric campsites, a camper’s beach, shower houses, laundry facilities, and basketball courts. You can even rent a cottage with a TV, a shower, and a real bed (if roughing it isn’t your thing, that is.) 

Whether you hit the water on a kayak, stroll around the wooded shores, or just take in the beauty of Ohio, Cowan Lake is guaranteed to provide you with a peaceful getaway that the entire family will enjoy.

East Fork State Park

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The East Fork State Park spans over 4,870 acres, and as one of Ohio’s largest state parks, I’m sure you can only imagine how incredible the camping opportunities are. In just 30 minutes, you can escape the bustling city and surround yourself with nature, taking part in swimming, hiking, fishing, boating, and even horseback riding. Once you’ve pitched your tent, be sure to look out for the park’s native wildlife, as foxes, deers, and 235 bird species call the East Fork State Park home.

General Butler State Park

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An hour’s drive southeast of downtown Cincinnati is the General Butler State Park, which has outdoor enthusiasts participating in hiking, bird watching, canoeing, and fishing. With 100 campsites fitted with utility hookups, showers, and laundry facilities, campers can make themselves at home before enjoying all the park has to offer. 

And don’t worry, if you prefer to sleep in a real bed, then the General Butler State Park also has a lodge with rooms and multi-bedroom cottages for you to make use of.

Hueston Woods State Park

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With over 3,000 acres to explore, the Hueston Woods State Park, just an hour’s south of Cincinnati, is an excellent camping spot choice. Visitors to the park can enjoy golf, hiking, and fossil hunting, all before taking to the park’s 625-acre lake to fish, boat, and swim. 

Hueston Woods offers campers primitive sites, electric sites, and even the opportunity to hire a yurt, so there really is a campsite for all camping preferences.

Indian Springs Campground

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Indian Springs Campground in North Bend, Ohio, is just a 30-minute drive from Cincinnati, making it an excellent choice for locals who don’t want to travel too far from home. The campground is equipped with 60 campsites—many of which are lakeside—and offers visitors the chance to fish, canoe, and hike. The little ones of the family will also be entertained as Indian Springs has a playground and pedal boats available for rental.

John Bryan State Park Campground

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Outdoor enthusiasts will particularly love the John Bryan State Park thanks to its miles and miles of scenic hiking trails. Located just over an hour northeast of Cincinnati, the John Bryan State Park has 56 electric and non-electric campsites that give you direct access to the hiking trails and the Little Miami River that runs through the park.

Lake Isabella

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Camping and relaxing by a lake go hand in hand, and at Lake Isabella, that’s exactly what you get. The campsites at Lake Isabella are more primitive than other campsites around Cincinnati, but if you aren’t afraid to rough it, then Lake Isabella is an excellent choice. 

You’ll find port-o-let restrooms, picnic tables, and communal fire rings at the campground, but for the most part, the area is free from amenities, so be sure to pack accordingly.

Miami Whitewater Forest Campground

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Twenty-five miles northwest of Cincinnati is the Miami Whitewater Forest Campground that sits inside the 4,345-acre Miami Whitewater Forest. Thanks to the forest’s sheer size, there really is something for everyone, and visitors can take part in activities like hiking and golfing. The park even has an 85-acre lake that invites you to paddle and fish. 

All 46 of the campgrounds campsites feature electric hookups, picnic tables, and a fire ring so you can kick back and relax in comfort.

Stonelick State Park

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Sitting on 1,058 acres of rolling highlands is the Stonelick State Park, which offers both electric and non-electric camping spots. One of the most popular activities in the area is fossil hunting, but campers can also hike, boat, and stargaze. Stonelick is around a 40-minute drive from Cincinnati, so it’s a great option if you aren’t looking to travel far from the city center.

Versailles State Park

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It probably comes as no surprise that Indiana’s second-largest state park is a hub for camping. The Versailles State Park, 50 miles east of Cincinnati, has a 230-acre fishing lake that offers rowboating, kayaking, and canoeing opportunities, as well as hiking and mountain biking trails that take you all throughout the state park’s wilderness. The campground, in total, has 226 electric campsites and nine electric equestrian campsites, as well as a camp store for any essentials you forgot off your packing list.

Winton Woods

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The final campground near Cincinnati, Winton Woods, is just 20 miles north of the city and boasts a ton of amenities that make camping that little bit more enjoyable. Campers can enjoy a camp store, washers, dryers, a playground, and even WIFI, as well as electrical hookups at all 113 campsites. 

Winton Woods Park has nature trails, picnic areas, a farm, and horseback riding opportunities that are guaranteed to keep you entertained from the second you pitch your tent.

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Apostle Islands
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Havasu Falls
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Olympic National Park Hoh Rainforest
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