Travelers looking to get out of the house and seek out new adventures should head to their Ohio State Parks, naturally.
Five Ohio State Park Lodges are offering the Ohio Naturally package exclusively to AAA members. The package includes one night of lodging, a hiker’s snack pack, walking trail map, and a choice of an Ohio Wildlife Field Guide featuring birds, butterflies, plants or trees.
“Reconnecting with nature really is closer and easier than many people realize,” said Dianna Rom, regional director of sales and marketing for Ohio State Park Lodges. “Our parks have miles of trails and acres of wildlife habitat and vegetation.”
The five Ohio State Park Lodges operated by concessioner Xanterra Parks & Resorts are located throughout the state and within an easy drive of major cities in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. The lodges are Salt Fork State Park Lodge in central Ohio near Cambridge, Mohican State Park Lodge in north central Ohio near Loudonville, Punderson Manor State Park Lodge in northeastern Ohio near Newbury, Maumee Bay State Park Lodge in northwestern Ohio near Toledo, and Deer Creek State Park Lodge near Columbus.
Depending on the season, location, and accommodations selected, rates can start as low as $100 per night. To book any of the AAA packages, travelers should visit their local AAA office, www.ohiostateparklodges.com or individual lodge websites. For the AAA Naturally package, travelers should use the promotional code AAANATURE. Travelers can also book packages by calling 1-800-282-7275.
Some of things Rom recommends visitor check out in each park include:
Maumee Bay State Park
The Trautman Nature Center. This state-of-the-art interpretive exhibits interactive computer displays, an auditorium, and wildlife feeding stations visible from viewing windows. After getting your bearings, head to Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, one of the best birding locations in the state. In the spring and fall thousands of migrating songbirds, waterbirds, tundra swans, and birds of prey can be seen. Bald eagles are present throughout the year. An observation tower near the visitor center provides a good viewing point.
Mohican State Park
Mohican State Park offers wide-ranging bird-watching options throughout the year, the hemlock-lined Clear Fork Gorge, and a one-mile hike through the gorge along the Clear Fork of the Mohican River that takes visitors to the top of Pleasant Hill Dam. The resort features a free live birds-of-prey presentation by the Ohio Bird Sanctuary every Saturday night from April through November.
Salt Fork State Park
The Salt Fork Wildlife Area is adjacent to eastern Ohio’s Salt Fork State Park and offers an abundance of wood ducks, wading birds, and shore birds at the 80-acre marsh on the eastern end of the area and along the Salt Fork Lake’s 74 miles of shoreline. For a light-hearted experience, go geocaching in the woods and across rolling hills in search of hidden “treasure.”
Punderson State Park
Punderson’s marina provides boats for fishing or just exploring. Or enjoy the 14 miles of hiking trails through the park grounds. The nearby Penitentiary Glen Reservation and Nature Center is named for the 90-foot wall of this gorge, which provides easy access but tough exit, much like a penitentiary. The area’s new nature center is surrounded by a butterfly-hummingbird garden.
Deer Creek State Park
At Deer Creek Lake, anglers can catch bluegill, largemouth bass, white and black crappie, white bass and more. Gizzard Shad are also caught in the lake, and they make excellent bait for anglers, especially when fishing for catfish. Or enjoy one of the park’s many hiking trails such as the 1 ½-mile Ridge Trail, which runs through wooded terrain and features a nature observation blind for hikers to observe passing wildlife.
For information about Ohio State Park Lodges visit the individual websites or www.ohiostateparklodges.com