Located on Ohio's northeastern shoreline, Geneva State Park's 698 acres reflect the character and charisma of Lake Erie. The shimmering expanse of the lake lures vacationers who enjoy fishing and boating. Swimmers rejoice in the beautiful sand beach while nature enthusiasts retreat to the park's freshwater marshes and estuaries. Overnight accommodations include a family campground, cedar cabins, rooms at the lodge, and cottages.
The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake boasts breathtaking views with its location in the heart of Ohio’s Wine Country on the southern shore of Lake Erie next to Geneva State Park. The full-service resort offers Lodge Rooms, conference facilities, and well-appointed Cottages for reservation.
Geneva State Park Campground has modern facilities and offers great Lake Erie sunsets. Campers can choose from Full Hook-up, Electric and Non-electric sites as well as Cedar Cabins. Facilities include laundry, playground and fish cleaning house. Pets are permitted on all campsites but are not allowed in Cedar Cabins. Reservations are required, online or by calling (866) 644-6727.
An archery range is located within the park on Padanarum Road. There is a raised platform and a variety of target ranges. Bring your own equipment.
Geneva Marina, (440) 466-7565, provides easy access to Lake Erie's central basin. The east breakwall of the marina is capped with a sidewalk. Geneva Marina is designated as a small boat harbor and is a certified Clean Marina.
- 407 slips and transient docking
- Six-lane boat ramp; Carry in, Carry Out area. No trash cans are available. Please bring trash bags with you.
- Deli and canteen
- Fueling station
- Fish cleaning service
- Bait and tackle supplies, fishing licenses, boat accessories
- Boat and trailer storage
Pedal boats and kayaks for use on Cowles Creek are available for rent from Lake Erie Canopy Tours.
Lake Erie is known as the Walleye Capital of the world. In addition to great catches of walleye, the lake offers yellow perch, channel catfish, and steelhead trout. Private charter fishing boats are available from Geneva Marina.
Hunting is permitted in designated areas from October 15 through February 28 annually.
A 600-foot sand beach on the shoreline of Lake Erie has a designated swimming area. Pets are not permitted on the swimming beach but a designated dog swim area is located at the west end of the beach.
- BeachGuard — Water quality advisories, Memorial Day to Labor Day, from Ohio Dept. of Health
Six miles of multi-use trails traverse the park and are used by hikers, snowmobilers, cross-country skiers, and hunters.
A 2-mile paved trail provides scenic views of Lake Erie and spans the park. Motorized vehicles are prohibited.
Under the proper conditions, park visitors can enjoy a 4.5-mile snowmobiling trail, cross-country skiing, and ice fishing.
More to Do
Zipline and Challenge Course: An aerial adventure park, Lake Erie Canopy Tours, is located adjacent to the Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake. It is open seasonally, from May through October (weather permitting). Rates vary based on activity. Reservations can be made at (866) 601-1973. Walk-ins are welcome. Visit www.LakeErieCanopyTours.com to check hours of operation and learn more.
History & Natural Features
Geneva State Park is situated along the Lake Erie shoreline within the village of Geneva-on-the-Lake, which was Ohio's first summer resort. Erie, meaning wildcat or "it is long-tailed," is derived from the tribal name of Native Americans who inhabited the area until 1655. The lake was a principal avenue of transportation for Native Americans and frontiersmen alike. Overlooked by French settlers traveling west because of a shorter overland route linking Lake Ontario and the western Great Lakes, French trappers eventually established trade routes on Lake Erie in the mid-1600s. Since that time, the lake has figured prominently in Ohio's history and growth.
By the mid 1800s, the state's canal system was open and goods could be shipped from Ohio's rural farms to populous eastern cities using well-developed inland canals. Ports were established at Toledo and Cleveland to accommodate the growing shipping industry. Freight from these ports was shipped east across the lake to New York.
Today, the Saint Lawrence Seaway enables the Midwest to trade directly with many nations. Freighters of international registry carry corn, wheat, soybeans, and other commodities from our region's diverse industries to many foreign markets. New trade avenues opened on Lake Erie contribute to the prosperity of Ohio's strong agricultural and industrial economies.
Acquisition of land to create the park began in 1964 with the purchase of Chestnut Grove. Land acquisitions continued through 1972. The last parcels added were the cottage and campground areas.
Geneva State Park exhibits graphic evidence of the dynamic impact Lake Erie has on our changing landscape through geologic history. The site of the park has been at times underwater, and at other times, miles from water.
Lake Erie's beginning can be traced to the glacial era of Ohio's geologic history when the state was covered by ice over a mile thick. During the Pleistocene (Ice Age), continental glaciers advanced and receded from Ohio at least four times. The scouring action of the ice sheets widened and deepened an existing river valley and created the Lake Erie basin, which slowly filled with meltwater as the ice receded northeastward to Canada. Over the next several thousand years, changes in the climate caused the ice front to recede during warmer periods and remain stationary when it was colder. When the ice receded, the meltwater lake would drop in altitude, and when the ice was stationary, the lake would form a shoreline with sandy beaches, dunes, and sand bars.
The earliest and highest phase of meltwater lake, called Lake Maumee, flooded much of northern Ohio and drained to the southwest towards the Mississippi River. Later phases drained across the Michigan peninsula. U.S. Route 20, 3.5 miles south of Geneva State Park, is built on a ridge of sand that is the former shoreline of one such lake. When the glaciers made their final retreat from the basin (near present-day Buffalo, New York), a new outlet was exposed via the Niagara River. A torrent of water escaped, draining the lake basin. This created a new lake phase that was much lower than today’s Lake Erie and several miles north of the site that would become Geneva State Park. Twelve-thousand years ago, the outlet of this lake phase was 100 feet lower than it is today due to the massive weight of the mile-thick ice depressing the land surface. The slow rebounding of the bedrock allowed the lake to gradually refill the basin, creating the Lake Erie we recognize today (along with Niagara Falls).
Because Lake Erie is relatively shallow, it becomes treacherous during severe storms. In just a matter of minutes, the lake can change from peaceful and serene to raging and thundering. The park’s boat harbor was built partly as a refuge for small craft to escape from sudden storms.
Geneva offers the visitor a natural beach, several areas of freshwater marsh, and beautiful mature woodlots. The middle and western beach areas contain plants that are rare in Ohio but characteristic of the Atlantic coast. Sea rocket, seaside spurge, beach pea, and silverweed can be found on the Geneva beaches. Marshes located at the mouth of Cowles Creek, No Name Creek, and Wheeler Creek contain swamp smartweed, leafy sedge, and submerged aquatic vegetation.