Kelleys Island State Park

Kelleys Island State Park on Kelleys Island in Lake Erie makes for a unique visiting experience. Between the location, history, and available activities visitors will no doubt remember their trips for a long time.

kelleys island state park

Getting Around Kelleys Island

Several modes of transportation make getting to and getting around Kelleys Island easy. Visitors can take a private boat or airplane to the island, but most will make use of the ferry boat. The Kelleys Island Ferry offers an enjoyable twenty-minute ferry ride from Marblehead to Kelleys Island. Once to the island, you can rent a golf cart or bicycle to get around. The entire island is only four square miles, so these are effective ways to get around. The ferry offers vehicle service, too. Most, however, just need a golf cart or bicycle to get around.

History of Kelleys Island

Glaciers created both Lake Erie and Kelleys island during the last Ice Age. Some of the most lasting effects of these glaciers can be seen in the glacial grooves on the island. These grooves are thought to have been made about 18,000 years ago, and are cut into the limestone of the area. The glacial grooves site is managed by the ODNR, and it is just down the road from the state park campground entrance. Give yourself about a half hour to walk around the site and read about the grooves.

glacial grooves

In addition to the natural history, evidence of early Native Americans is also visible on the island. On the south side of the island is Inscription Rock, a limestone slab with over one hundred images, or petroglyphs. Historians estimate the petroglyphs were made by pre-Columbian people, sometime between 1200 and 1600 AD. This site is near the downtown area of the village and is visible from the ferry boat as you get ready to dock.

inscription rock

Kelleys Island State Park

Kelleys Island State Park takes up nearly 700 acres of the island’s land. Even for its relatively small size, the park has plenty to offer to those willing to make the trek to Ohio’s northernmost reaches. Hiking, boating, swimming, fishing, and wildlife watching are all good activities at the state park. The land managed by ODNR is spread out around the island, and many of the spots are worth a stop. A bike or golf cart still works for getting around even though the sites are spread out.

kelleys island

In addition to all of the wonderful activities in nature to do, the village of Kelleys Island is very hospitable. The local shops and restaurants offer plenty to do while visiting the island. There is a small park downtown and several places to play outdoor games. Above all, it is even worth it to just walk around and view the historic homes around the downtown area.

Ben’s Thoughts

Kelleys Island is just an all-around great place to visit. The island is small enough that a bike or golf cart is all you need to get around. Our family of four (with two young children!) did just fine with a golf cart. The glacial grooves and fun hiking trails within the park show much of Ohio’s early history. When we visited, we felt like the slow, easy-going pace of the village was perfect. All in all, the island is definitely worth the trip to visit.

Ben’s Visit: July 2021

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