Camp on Kelley's Island
Laura Watilo Blake
1. Reserve your campsite before you go. There are 126 sites in the campground, but the 13 lakefront spots book up fast. Reservations can be made up to six months in advance, so plan ahead to get the best selection. Site 122 is our favorite for its location on a quiet loop next to the beach, access to an electric hookup and full shade cover. Just be prepared to walk a little further to the bathroom. There are also two waterfront yurts with beds, showers, sinks, toilets and full electric.
2. Pack the essential gear. How much gear you bring depends on how cushy you want your camping to be. At bare minimum, choose a dome-style tent to accommodate the number of campers in your group and bring sleeping bags and sleeping pads for each person. To get around in the dark, bring a headlamp and an LED lantern. Don’t forget the bugs pray and sunscreen. Get even more comfy by bringing folding chairs or a nylon hammock to hang between two trees (It's a perfect napping spot for a toddler, not to mention adults.)
3. Plan your meals. While there are plenty of restaurants on Kelleys Island, you’ll want to have a few things handy at your campsite. At the very least, bring a kettle to boil water for coffee, hot chocolate or instant oatmeal. Step up your game with a propane stove and a frying pan and don't forget to pack cooking and eating utensils, plates, bowls, cups, paper towels, Ziploc bags, aluminum foil, trash bags, dish soap, dish pan and at least a half-gallon of water per person, per day. If you forget anything, Unc'l Dik's across from the campground probably has it. You will find fixin's for s'mores, firewood and groceries there.
4. Pack the car in the right order. The art of packing is a lot like the game of Tetris; you'll have better success if things fit together efficiently. First think about what you'll need at the planned arrival time, and pack accordingly with the heaviest items on the bottom. If you're getting there at dinnertime, then the food and camp kitchen should be handy, while if you arrive after dark, the lighting and shelter should be accessible first. If you have kids, have their bathing suits and sand toys ready for the inevitable exodus from the car to the beach.
5. Show up. During peak summer season, the Kelleys Island Ferry (kelleysislandferry.com) travels every half hour from 7 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. between its dock in Marblehead, Ohio, and the south end of the island. Kelleys Island State Park is located at the northern end of the island. In addition to the beach, the park offers fishing opportunities and hiking in the North Shore Alvar and North Pond state nature preserves.
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