Salt Fork Lodge and Conference Center
Photo: Salt Fork Lodge and Conference Center

Southeast Ohio Parks Offer Variety, Outdoor Thrills

Posted on:

< < Back to

Extensive variety and ready availability mark the offerings of state parks within Southeast Ohio. They offer a range of outdoor thrills and the bounty of nature along with the fun of summer festivals, good food, wedding venues, and options for large and small gatherings.

In short, the state parks throughout Southeastern Ohio offer summer fun for everyone.

Salt Fork State Park and Lodge

Nestled just northeast of Cambridge in Guernsey County is Salt Fork State Park and Lodge. Spanning 17,229 acres, it is Ohio’s largest state park with facilities and activities to suit almost everyone.

In addition to traditional outdoor fun of swimming, boating, fishing, and hiking, Salt Fork has a par 71 golf course with yardages ranging from 5,241 yards to 6,056 yards. It has received Golf Digest’s 4-Star Rating in Places to Play!

Salt Fork also offers 148 guestrooms in the lodge and 53 two-bedroom cabins of different styles. The lodge includes a 2,500 foot beach, indoor and outdoor pools, plus a fitness center. The facility also has pet friendly accommodations.

Meeting space is available at the Salt Fork Conference Center. There are seven different meeting rooms available for everything from weddings and family reunions to spiritual retreats.

“Summer is the time for family fun, and at Salt Fork State Park Lodge, there is nothing that makes us happier than watching families explore, play and laugh while enjoying one of the many activities like geocaching, boating and kids’ crafts,” said Keith Cook, general manager. “And no matter how many family members come to stay and play, we have accommodations that will make everyone comfortable.”

In addition to special golf packages, there is a special Ultimate Summer Surprise Package available for guests from May 22 through Sept. 7.

On Aug. 23 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Heritage Days will take place at the Park where guests can learn more about the history of the park and the region.
14755 Cadiz Road
Lore City, Ohio 43755
Park Office: (740) 439-3521
Camp Office: (740) 432-1508
Golf Course: (740) 432-7185
Reservations: (866) 644-6727
Camping and shelters
Salt Fork Lodge & Conference Center
P.O. Box 7
Cambridge, Ohio 43725
Lodge Phone: (740) 439-2751
Lodge Fax: (740) 432-6615
Reservations: (800) 282-7275
Lodge and cottages

Burr Oak State Park and Lodge

Straddling Morgan and Athens counties is the renovated Burr Oak State Park and Lodge. The Lodge re-opened in July 2013 after receiving a $2 million facelift. It has 38 guest rooms, an indoor pool and dining and meeting facilities. There also are 30 cabins throughout the park.

The Lodge and Conference Center is perfect for meetings, weddings and family reunions. While at the lodge, visitors can take advantage of the Park’s 40 miles of hiking trails, boating, fishing, and indoor and outdoor swimming.

This summer the lodge is featuring numerous special events, including Advanced Butterfly Gardening on June 1, hosted by the Burr Oak AmeriCorps Team. That team also is sponsoring an Edible Tour on June 26-27 and July 24-25, and a Ginseng Workshop on July 11.

The 6th Annual Emma Grandma Gatewood Summer Solstice Hike and Campout will take place June 19-21, a Full Moon Lake Paddle is scheduled for July 31 and the annual Luau on Burr Oak Beach is Aug. 8.
Burr Oak State Park
10220 Burr Oak Lodge Road
Glouster, Ohio 45732
Park Office: (740) 767-3570
Reservations: (866) 644-6727
Camping, Getaways, & Shelters
Burr Oak Lodge & Conference Center
Route 2, Box 159
Glouster, Ohio 45732-9536
Lodge Front Desk: (740) 767-2112
Lodge Fax: (740) 767-4878
Reservations: (740) 767-2112
Lodge & Cottages

Blue Rock State Park

Close to the border of Muskingum and Morgan Counties is Blue Rock State Park. Officially a state park since 1949 and a bit off the beaten path, this 322-acre park is used as a wedding venue and a place for special events and all summer activities.

Every year it hosts some unique summer events. On July 11-12 it will host Art in the Park, an annual arts and crafts exhibit populated by a number of artists from the Columbus area and southeastern Ohio.

On Aug. 1, the park will sponsor its annual Mark Twain Family Fun Day, a day dedicated to taking participants back to the times of Mark Twain. It is a step back into the late 1800s and early 1900s with educational booths, art displays, games and crafts of that time period.
7924 Cutler Lake Road
Blue Rock, Ohio 43720
Blue Rock Office: (740) 674-4794

Lake Hope State Park and Lodge

Lake Hope State Park’s 2,983 acres are carved out of the Zaleski State Forest in Vinton County. It features rugged terrain with hiking and biking trails throughout the park, along with a beach and swimming facilities at Lake Hope.

There are campsites, along with 66 cottages and Laurel Lodge, an eight bedroom, two-story “rustic lodge” that will sleep 24 people.

One of the attractions to Lake Hope is the Lake Hope Lodge. Along with breathtaking views, it offers “casual dining,” featuring locally grown food and “all hickory-smoked real pit BBQ.” Sunday brunch is available every week from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

On July 11, Allen Chartier, a noted hummingbird specialist from Michigan, will visit Lake Hope to conduct his annual Hummingbird Banding at the Park. He will give a presentation about hummingbirds, after which participants will be able to band birds for future tracking.
27331 State Route 278
McArthur, Ohio 45651
Park Office: (740) 596-4938
Reservations: (866) 644-6727
Dining Lodge: (740) 596-0601

Hocking Hills State Park

Hocking Hills State Park is one of the most popular destinations for Ohioans. Its 2,356 acres are divided into six distinct areas: Ash Cave, Old Man’s Cave, Cantwell Cliffs, Cedar Falls, Conkle’s Hollow and Rock House.

It is a hiker’s paradise with a variety of terrains from cliffs to gorges. The park is extremely close to 400-acre Lake Logan with its swimming, boating and fishing fun. On the wilder side, it has several private zip-lines and other types of family fun. There is no central lodge with rooms, but private cabins are plentiful throughout the park area.

This year there is a new Hocking Hills App which is free at your app store for your Android phone. The app for iPhones is still under development. It gives you a calendar of events and guides you throughout the park.

It should be noted that Old Man’s Cave is undergoing some capital improvements. Phase One has been completed. There has been an accessible ramp and deck installed at the upper falls. According to the Hocking Hills website, this will provide a “safe view” of the upper falls to all visitors.

Phase Two is underway and it will involve some minor trail closures. However, The Ohio Department of Natural resources says in its notice that: “A majority of the trail system at Old Man’s Cave will be unaffected by the closure and all of the most popular features will remain open including the upper falls, devil’s bathtub, Old Man’s Cave itself and the lower falls waterfall area.”

The park has signage to help visitors navigate around the construction areas.
19852 State Route 664 S
Logan, Ohio 43138
Park Office: (740) 385-6842

Lake Hope State Park
Lake Hope State Park (


Athens County

Strouds Run State Park:

Burr Oak State Park:

Belmont County

Barkcamp State Park:

Coschocton County

Dillon State Park:

Salt Fork State Park:

Gallia County

Crowned City Wildlife Area:

Guernsey County

Salt Fork State Park:

Harrison County

Harrison Lake State Park:

Hocking County

Hocking Hills State Park :

Jackson County

Jackson Lake State Park:

Lake Alma State Park:

Lawrence County

Compass Plant Prairie Nature Preserve:

Crown City Wildlife Area:

Dean State Forrest:

Symmes Wildlife Area:

Meigs County

Forked Run State Park:

Monroe County

Piatt Park:

Morgan County

Burr Oak State Park:

Blue Rock State Park:

Big Bottom Memorial State Park:

Muskingum County

Blue Rock State Park:

Dillon State Park:

Noble County

Wolf Run State Park:

Perry County

Perry State Forrest:

Vinton County

Lake Hope State Park:

Washington County

Howes State Park:

Cedar Falls, Hocking Hills State Park (Bud Schrader)
Cedar Falls, Hocking Hills State Park (Bud Schrader)

Here’s a sampling of popular summertime activities, compiled by Columbus Dispatch staff members:


The Living Word

Description: 41st season for the religious drama about the life of Christ

Location: 6010 College Hill Rd., Cambridge (Guernsey County)

Performances: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays June 19 to Sept. 26; The Music Man (7:30 p.m. May 29-30, June 5-6); the Jerusalem Experience (10 a.m. to noon Aug. 29), an interactive children’s program

Admission: $18, or $16 for senior citizens, $6 for children 4 to 12 for The Living Word; admission varies for other shows

Seating capacity: 800

Running time: 21/2 hours for The Living Word; other shows vary

Information: 740-439-2761,

Trumpet in the Land

Description: 46th season for the historical drama about the founding of Ohio’s first settlement

Location: Schoenbrunn Amphitheatre, New Philadelphia (Tuscarawas County)

Performances: various dates June 19 to Aug. 22; also The White Savage (various dates July 3 through Aug. 15); Fiddler on the Roof (July 25 and 31, Aug. 6 and 14); all shows 8:30 p.m.

Admission: $15 to $20, or $15 to $18 for senior citizens, $8 to $10 for children 12 and younger for all shows

Seating capacity: 1,279

Wheelchair access: yes

Running time: 2-1/2 hours for Trumpet and Fiddler; 2 hours, 15 minutes for The White Savage

Information: 330-339-1132,


Jamboree in the Hills

Description: The outdoor rain-or-shine event boasts some of the top names in country music.

Location: off Rt. 40, Morristown (Belmont County)

Performances: July 16-19: including Toby Keith, Dierks Bentley, Neal McCoy, Florida Georgia Line, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Justin Moore, Frankie Ballard, Thomas Rhett, Lee Brice, Sara Evans and more

Parking: $10 daily (no overnight parking), with $25 daily VIP parking available. Camping pass ($210 to $225) does not include admission.

Tickets/information: $60 to $95 (one day), $135 to $145 (two days), $190 to $205 (three days), $220 to $240 (four days); 1-800-594-8499; www.jamboreeinthe

Legend Valley

Description: The music and camping event near Buckeye Lake features veteran musicians and rising stars.

Location: 7585 Kindle Rd., Thornville (Perry County)

Performances: May 22-24: Dark Star Jubilee featuring Dark Star Orchestra, Los Lobos, Railroad Earth, Robert Randolph and the Family Band and more; July 22-25: Gathering of the Juggalos, featuring Insane Clown Posse, Mushroomhead, Puddle of Mudd, Tech N9ne, Twiztid, Waka Flocka Flame and more; Aug. 6-8: the Werk Out Festival featuring the Werks, Umphrey’s McGee, Papadosio, Dopapod and more; Sept. 4-5: 92.3 WCOL Country Jam featuring Thomas Rhett, Joe Nichols, Eric Church, Big & Rich, Aaron Lewis, Love and Theft and more.

Parking: free; tent and RV camping, $60 to $160

Tickets/information: $60 to $375; 740-323-1485,,,,,


Roscoe Village

Description: The 1800s canal-era experience features hands-on activities and costumed interpreters.

Location: 600 N. Whitewoman St., Coshocton (Coshocton County)

Open: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily; call for tour times

Admission: free; a fee for some attractions

Parking: free

Special exhibit: Mudlarked in Roscoe — visitors interact with costumed interpreters as they fill their bills of lading on a scavenger-hunt experience (additional fee, Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend)

Information: 1-800-877-1830, 740-622-7644,

Zanesville Museum of Art

Description: The museum boasts an extensive Ohio glass and pottery selection as well as works by Cezanne, Toulouse-Lautrec, Matisse, Picasso, Rembrandt and Rubens.

Location: 620 Military Rd., Zanesville (Muskingum County)

Open: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays; 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Thursdays

Admission: $6, or $4 for senior citizens 60 and older and children 10 to 18, free for children 9 and younger and members

Parking: free

Special exhibit: 71st Ohio Annual Exhibition — explore the paintings, glass work, photography, fiber art, textiles, ceramics and other entries for the arts competition (June 11 through Aug. 21)

Information: 740-452-0741, www.zanesvilleart. org


The Wilds

Description: A 10,000-acre conservation center in southeastern Ohio features rare and endangered animals living in natural, open-range habitats.

Location: 14000 International Rd., Cumberland (Guernsey County)

Big attractions: experience rare and endangered animals such as giraffes, rhinos, zebras and cheetahs living in their natural, open-range habitats at the conservation center in southeastern Ohio. Zip lines, horseback riding, fishing tours, a lodge, cabins and yurts are available.

Open: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily May through September, weekends only in October

Admission: Safari Transport tour, $20, or $19 for senior citizens 60 and older, $15 for children 4 to 12, free for children younger than 3; open-air Safari tour, $30, all ages; Wildside Tours, $125, reservations required.

Parking: $6

Information: 740-638-5030,


Wayne County

Buckin’ Ohio Western Experience: May 23-Sept. 19; professional bull riding, Western town recreation, shopping; 8154 Garman Rd., Burbank; 330-624-7205;

Tuscarawas County

Fort Laurens: Open May-October; museum on-site of Ohio’s only Revolutionary War fort, with audio-visual presentations, war artifacts; 124 East High Ave., New Philadelphia; 330-874-2059;

Holmes County

Amish and Mennonite Heritage Center: Open Monday-Saturday; interpretive tour, Conestoga wagon, one-room schoolhouse, local arts and crafts; 5798 CR 77, Berlin; 330-893-3192;

Stark County

Pro Football Hall of Fame: Open daily; tour, interactive exhibits, galleries; 2121 George Halas Dr. NW, Canton; 330-456-8207;

Guernsey County

Byesville Historical Society and Museum: Open Mondays and Wednesdays, May-September; antiques, photographs and documents from 1800s to present day; 236 East Main St., Byesville; 740-685-2812

Monroe County

Piatt Park: Open daily; 119-acre park with caves/gorges, hiking and camping; State Route 78; 740-472-1328;

Harrison County

Harrison County History of Coal Museum: Monday-Saturday; comprehensive look at early day and modern mining in southeast Ohio; Puskarich Library, 200 East Market St., Cadiz; 740-942-2623;

Noble County

Seneca Lake: Open daily; 3,500-acre lake offering fishing, swimming, boating, family camping; 22172 Park Rd., Senacaville; 740-685-6013;

Washington County

Ohio River Sternwheel Festival: Sept. 11-13; more than 30 authentic sternwheel boats, family entertainment, fireworks; corner of Front and Greene Streets, Marietta; 1-800-288-2577;

Morgan County

Ribs, Rhythm and Blues Festival: June 6; regional blues and jazz musicians perform in the historic Union Hall Theater; 7520 Marion St., Chesterhill; 740-554-6994;

Perry County

Wayne National Forest: Open daily; public hunting, fishing, camping, horse trails and hiking throughout southern Perry County;

Hocking County

Washboard Music Festival: June 18-20; three-day celebration of the washboard as a musical instrument, with concerts, a car show, parade and more; East Main Street, Logan;

Vinton County

Vinton County Air Show: Sept. 20; features pilots from around the U.S., skydiving, food, kids’ activities; Vinton County Airport, 66285 Airport Rd., New Plymouth,

Athens County

Stuart’s Opera House: See event schedule; national, regional and local musicians, theater productions and more; 52 Public Square, Nelsonville; 740-753-1924;

Meigs County

Big Bend Blues Bash: July 24-25; national and regional blues acts perform during two-day blues festival, located along the Ohio River; Pomeroy Riverside Amphitheater; 100 East Main St., Pomeroy;

Gallia County

Our House Tavern Historic Site: Open Wednesday-Sunday; living history museum in 1800s house, with tours, artifacts and more; 432 First Ave., Gallipolis; 1-800-752-2618

Jackson County

Jackson Apple Festival: Sept. 22-26; rides, parades, live entertainment; 250 East Main St., Jackson;

Lawrence County

Rally on the River: Aug. 13-16; annual car and motorcycle show, featuring live music and vendors; Ironton;