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Ohio Parks: Visit Them For Free

July 12, 2017 - Larry Claypool
I recently visited my daughter and her family, who live in the state of Indiana. As with many of our visits to the Hoosier State, we try to visit the local state park, Fort Harrison State Park, which is located near Indianapolis. The park occupies part of the former site of Fort Benjamin Harrison. The state park is known for its great hiking and walking/jogging trails and picnic areas.

Fort Harrison State Park is one of 32 state parks in Indiana. But if you want to visit the parks, it comes with a price. Yes, Indiana is one of many states that charge a fee ($7 a day, $50 a year family pass) to enter their parks, including Fort Harrison State Park. Ohio, on the other hand, is one of a few that do not have such state park admission or parking fees. That includes all 74 state parks in the Buckeye State.

We have many beautiful, scenic state parks in Ohio and we are very fortunate to be able to visit them for free. There have been previous attempts to legislate a fee system for Ohio’s parks be they have been quelled each time. It is a big advantage for Ohioans and we must realize this.

West Virginia recently passed a pilot project to support the state parks and forests with a modest $2 park fee (single day vehicle use and $12 annual pass fee) for seven parks Babcock State Park, Blackwater Falls State Park, Cacapon Resort State Park, Coopers Rock State Forest, Little Beaver State Park, Pipestem Resort State Park and Valley Falls State Park. There will be exemptions for overnight guests and school groups who schedule in advance.

West Virginia officials say the funds will help with maintenance and upkeep costs of their parks.

At this time Pennsylvania also does not charge a visitor’s or parking fee to enter their state parks.

Around the country many states charge from $3-$10 per day to visit their state parks. The fee is usually a one-day vehicle fee to enter. Some charge a ‘parking fee’. And most of the states also offer an annual permit fee and offer discounts for senior citizens, youths and military veterans. Some states offer free services for veterans.

State parks across the country also offer different and special permits and fees for outdoor activities that include: boat launches, horse trails or horse trailer parking, bus parking, canoe and kayak rentals, fishing, hiking, camping and more. The state of Maryland offers a ‘Park Service Passport’ that includes unlimited boat launches and discounts on state operated concessions and rentals.

In Ohio the day use of facilities, including trails, beaches, picnic areas, boating and fishing facilities are free of charge. There is a fee for use of overnight facilities, reserving shelter houses, equipment rental, golf, and some facility tours. Some parks require a visitor pass and a small fee for non-registered campers at the campgrounds. For more details visit Ohio parks online at:

If you’re interested in visiting any state park across the country it’s a good idea to visit that state’s website or call the Department of Natural Resources for detailed information and pricing.

To visit any National Parks and Federal Recreational Land (Ohio has many national parks, lakes, refuges, historical sites and more), an annual pass is $80. Daily fees and locations are also posted on their website:


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Blog Photos

I found this unusual dead tree along a hiking/walking trail at Fort Harrison State Park in Indiana.