Ohio Department of Natural Resources’Kelleys Island State Park
Credit: Ohio Department of Natural Resources
920 Division St
Kelleys Island, OH 43438Website
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Located in in the western basin of Lake Erie, Kelleys Island was formed when massive ice sheets from Canada advanced into Ohio during the glacial period. The remaining grooves and striation seen in the island’s limestone bedrock makes the area the largest example of glacial striations in the world.
The 677-acre state park provides nearly a mile of coastal access on Kelleys Island in addition to housing two state nature preserves: the North Shore Alvar and the North Pond. It is considered the largest American freshwater island in Lake Erie.
Studies show that Kelleys Island is one of the most important migratory bird stopover sites in the Great Lakes. Through policy engagement and on-the-ground conservation efforts, The Nature Conservancy is actively increasing the amount of coastal habitat throughout the Great Lakes basin not only for migratory birds, but also native fish populations.
Why It Matters:
A rare alvar ecosystem has formed where Kelleys Island’s limestone foundation is exposed to the waves and winds of Lake Erie. While the low cliffs, limestone shelves and thin, dry soil on the shoreline aren’t conducive for tree growth, they do, however, produce thriving prairie grasses, lichen and rare plants including balsam squaw weed, Pringle’s aster and northern bog violet. In fact, the alvar pavements also provide the perfect environment for the endangered lakeside daisy, which was transplanted to Kelleys Island specifically to establish a successful population.
The 30-acre North Pond represents one of the few natural wetlands remaining on the Great Lakes.
Located inland from the alvar, it not only provides a safe haven to hundreds of species of migrating songbirds, but also accommodates dozens of waterfowl species as they make the trek across the lake. Humans, too, flock to Kelleys Island, making it an important tourism destination and revenue-builder for the state.
Natural Treasures Landmark
Join hundreds of others who have chronicled their adventures! Take a picture of yourself at the Glacial Grooves Memorial welcome sign at Kelleys Island State Park and upload it to our site
Fun Things to Do and See:
- Bring your favorite book, unfold your beach chair and settle in for a day of sun-bathing along the 100-foot public swimming beach.
- Pull out your binoculars and examine the multiple varieties of birds using the island as a stepping stone to cross Lake Erie. If you’re especially lucky, you may spot the nesting pairs of bald eagles in the area.
- Take a load off and set up a tent for the night at one of more than 120 campsites. Unwind with a game of volleyball at the adjacent court before whipping up the first round of s’mores.
- Take a stroll among the red cedar trees along the mile-long North Pond Nature Preserve boardwalk trail. Tell us if you see any marbled salamanders or Blanding’s turtles along the way.
- Put your paddling skills to the test and rent a kayak to travel around the island. With 17 miles of irregular shoreline, this is the best way to view the island’s diverse topography.
- Determine the “Catch of the Day” when you cast your line into Lake Erie from Stone Pier & Shoreline. Licensed fisherman will also appreciate the fish cleaning house located on the campground. Did you catch any walleye?