COLUMBUS, OH – The summer is in full swing, and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) offers free and fun events throughout the month of July! Slow down this summer and create some outdoor memories while enjoying a variety of family-friendly activities at any of Ohio’s 74 state parks.
Beach Spectacular at Indian Lake State Park – Bring the kids to Old Field Beach for a day of fun in the sun on Saturday, July 1. We will start off with a 5K at 8:30 a.m. at West Lake Street in Lakeview. Beginning at 10 a.m. is the car show by the Top of Ohio Cruisers, door prizes and awards at Old Field Beach. The day’s events include a Beach Baby contest, Mr. and Miss Firecracker, Little Miss, Jr. Miss and Miss Indian Lake, food, swimming and more! Fireworks start at 10 p.m.
Paws on the Path at Blue Rock State Park – Meet at the lower shelterhouse to take a fun-filled hike with a furry friend on Saturday, July 1, from 10-11 a.m. Please bring a bag for pet waste. Dogs must be on a leash (maximum of 6 feet).
Paddling Demo Day at Shawnee State Park – Meet the Shawnee Staff at Turkey Creek Boat Ramp from between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to try out canoeing, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. All supplies included. Pack a lunch and bring water. The nature center will also be open from 12-3 p.m. so be sure and stop in after a fun day on the water.
Pioneer Village Comes Alive at Beaver Creek State Park – Join us on Saturday, July 1, from 12-3 p.m. as we try our hand at apple butter making. Everyone is welcome to join in the fun. A history program with Alice starts at 1 p.m. in the mill museum titled “The Day the Civil War Came to our Backyard-Surrender of General John Hunt Morgan.” The gristmill will be in operation, with demonstrations and kids events also available.
Paddling Excursions at West Branch State Park – Join the naturalist for a short paddling tour of the lake on Saturday, July 1, from 12-3:30 p.m. There is a sign-up sheet at the camp office for this free event. Participants must be 12 or older, physically able to maneuver the vessel and sign a waiver to participate. We will be departing from the campground swim beach at noon, 1:15 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Some experience with paddling is helpful.
Mammals of Ohio at Burr Oak State Park – Join the naturalist for a close-up look at common Ohio mammals by examining their skins and skulls from 3:30-4:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 1, in the lodge lobby.
Return of the Bobcat at Burr Oak State Park – After a 150 year absence, the bobcat has returned to Ohio. Join our special guest, wildlife biologist Cheryl Mollohon, for a presentation about when and where bobcat females den and raise their kittens in southeast Ohio. This program will also provide current information about Ohio’s other native wild cat, the mountain lion or cougar. Meet in the lodge Chickadee room on Saturday, July 1, from 7-8 p.m.
Turtle Sunday at Mohican State Park – Meet a few resident turtles and discover what makes them a reptile as well as what people can do to help them survive. Meet at the Mohican Lodge lobby on Sunday, July 2, from 10-11 a.m.
Animal Olympics at Lake Hope State Park – Test yourself in feats of skill and coordination from 10-11:30 a.m. on Sunday, July 2. Prepare to get dirty and wet. Meet the naturalist at the boathouse. For questions, call the nature center at 740-596-3030.
Creeking at Salt Fork State Park – Meet at the Stonehouse Trail parking lot for a creeking adventure on Sunday, July 2, from 11 a.m. until noon. Participants should wear clothes they do not mind getting wet. This program happens every Sunday during the summer, weather permitting.
Holiday Hike at Caesar Creek State Park – Meet at 1 p.m. on Sunday, July 2, at the nature center located across the road from Pioneer Village for a guided hike to the Swinging Bridge. See the pioneer village, Horseshoe Falls and a rock gorge along the way. Learn about the park’s history and wildlife. Hike 3 or 5 miles. Great for families!
Scavenger Hunt at Lake Hope State Park – Pick up a scavenger hunt list at the nature center between 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on Monday, July 3. All hunts should be completed no later than 4 p.m. that day for a prize. Bring along a camera, pencil and some water. For questions, call the nature center at 740-596-3030.
River Walk at Mohican State Park – Meet at the Class A shelterhouse on Monday, July 3, at 10 a.m. for a river walk. Discover crayfish, dragonfly larva, minnows and many other wonders. Be prepared to wade in the river! People should wear shoes that are securely fastened to their feet.
Pontoon Lake Tours at Burr Oak State Park – Enjoy Burr Oak Lake from the comfort of a pontoon boat while the naturalist points out items of interest, including wildlife at 6:30 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. Tours will be offered at those times on July 3, 4, 7 and 14. Advance registration is required by calling 740-767-3570 or emailing email@example.com.
Fireworks Extravaganza at Hueston Woods State Park – Continue the fun of the Fourth of July with all day entertainment and fun on Wednesday, July 5, with fireworks shortly after dark.
Hungry Hummers at Lake Hope State Park – Help hand feed ruby-throated hummingbirds from 1-3 p.m. on Thursday, July 6, at Lake Hope State Park. Meet at the nature center. For questions, call 740-596-3030.
Wild Edible Walk at Shawnee State Park – People can munch their way through the campground with the naturalist on July 7 and 21 at 8 a.m. Meet at the amphitheater.
Pollinator Garden Tour at West Branch State Park – We will learn about native wildflowers, prairies, butterflies, nature photography, insect catching with bug nets and more as we explore the new pollinator garden on Friday, July 7, from 2-3 p.m. The naturalist will bring some nets and collection jars. Meet outside the camp store for a short walk to the garden, which is located at the campground disc golf course entrance.
Trail Trek at Shawnee State Park – Treasure the trees, have fun in the flowers and blast off with the birds along a beautiful trail with the naturalist at 9 a.m. on July 8, 15 and 22. Meet at the nature center. Wear long pants and comfortable hiking shoes.
To learn more about family-friendly events at Ohio State Parks, go to parks.ohiodnr.gov/calendar.
Getting outdoors is an ideal way to relieve stress and boost mood levels. The new Explore Ohio initiative is aimed at encouraging people to exercise outdoors and become healthier in the process. Participants can log their miles, share their photos and create friends groups on the Explore Ohio website at ExploreOh.com. Whether people are running, hiking, biking, climbing, walking or paddling, Ohioans can keep track of their progress at ExploreOh.com and share their adventures on social media using #ExploreOhio. After reaching 100 combined miles of activity on the site, each registered user will receive an email with a certificate good for 15 percent off camping at any Ohio State Park.
ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.