The summer fun continues in July at Ohio’s state parks and state nature preserves with more free events to enjoy. In addition to these events, the Ohio State Fair also runs from Wednesday, July 26-Sunday, Aug. 6. Make sure to stop by and see all of the free activities that are available inside the Natural Resources Park, including the kayak pond, camper village, pioneer cabin, fishing pond, Smokey Bear, bird aviary, butterfly house and much more.
• Lighthouse Tours at Marblehead Lighthouse State Park – Tour the Marblehead Lighthouse along the beautiful shorelines of Lake Erie, daily from noon-4 p.m., through Labor Day. The last tour of the day begins at 3:40 p.m. There is a $3 charge for all guests age 6 and over to climb the lighthouse, cash only. Anyone under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. The Lighthouse Museum and the Life Saving Station are open (no charge) while the lighthouse is open. For more information, call East Harbor State Park at 419-734-4424 or visit marbleheadlighthouseohio.org.
• Canoeing 101 at Shawnee State Park – Learn the FUNdamentals of paddling then take a canoe out for a float around the lake to enjoy the peaceful serenity and search for wildlife. Meet at the Turkey Creek Boat Ramp at Shawnee State Park on Thursday, July 20, from 4-6 p.m. For more information, call 740-858-6652.
• Wild Edible Walk at Shawnee State Park – Meet on Friday, July 21, at 8 a.m. to munch through the Shawnee State Park campground with a naturalist. Meet at the amphitheater. For more information, call 740-858-6652.
• Nature Fridays at Paint Creek State Park – Join Naturalist Matthew Minter for some or all of these outdoor activities on Fridays in July and August. Archery will be held on Fridays in July and August at Paint Creek State Park at 4 p.m. Meet in front of the camp store for some basic bow safety and some range time. Participants should be able to draw a 20-lb. bow. At 5 p.m., there will be an activity on survival. Learn the secrets of the native people and our grandfathers. Meet at the shelter house. Then meet at 7:30 p.m. for the Family Adventure Series called Paddling 101. Learn the basics of kayaking at Paint Creek Beach. Participants should know to swim. Recommended for ages 7 and up. There is only room for six at a time, but we can take turns. For more information, contact Pike Lake State Park at 740-493-2212.
• 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. Meet at the nature center on Saturday, July 22, at 9 a.m. Wear long pants and comfortable hiking shoes. For more information, call 740-858-6652.
• Paddling Excursions at West Branch State Park – Join the naturalist for a short paddling tour of the lake on July 22 and July 29. The sign-up sheet is at the camp office. This activity is free of charge. Participants must be at least 12-years-old and physically able to maneuver the vessel, and people must 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! For more information, call 330-654-4989.
• Lake Fest at Cowan Lake State Park – A brand-new event to celebrate Cowan Lake and our community will be held July 22-23. Overnight camping on the beach, bonfires, boat parades, kayaking, sailing, fishing and more. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 937-382-1096.
• Ice Cream and More at West Branch State Park – We will explore a different nature topic each week while enjoying a cold ice cream treat. Meet at the tent by camp office on July 22 and July 28 at 7 p.m. For more information, call 330-654-4989.
• Creek Crawl at Shawnee State Park – Investigate the tiny creatures living under rocks, the animals tell the story of the stream. Wear old clothes and shoes, and be prepared to get wet and dirty. Meet at the campground amphitheater on Friday, July 28, at 10 a.m. For more information, call 740-858-6652.
• Adams County Prairie Tour at Shawnee State Park – Enjoy a day touring some of Adams County’s state nature preserves in peak blooming season on Saturday, July 29, starting at 9 a.m. We will journey back in time for lunch with a stop at historic Blake’s Pharmacy soda shop. Be prepared to spend five hours in the field with frequent stops at various locations. Meet at the Shawnee Lodge lobby at 9 a.m. For more information, call 740-848-6652.
To learn more about family-friendly events at Ohio’s state parks and state nature preserves, go to parks.ohiodnr.gov/calendar or naturepreserves.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.