A primitive getaway for Lake Erie islands enthusiasts, the secluded and undeveloped North Bass Island is only accessible by private boat, charter, or aircraft. In spring and fall, North Bass provides an important stop-over for migratory songbirds. Located on the south end of the island, the park offers moors for boaters, fishing and wildlife watching. Fishing and hunting are permitted in public areas of the island.
Lake House Rental
The four-bedroom Lake House has been recently renovated and provides seasonal accommodations for 10-12 guests. Fully furnished, this is truly a unique getaway option. Guests of the Lake House will be provided a slip at the marina. Call (419) 237-2593 to make seasonal reservations.
Four public mooring balls are located on the south side of the island. There is no fee to tie up; they are first-come, first served.
Shoreline fishing is allowed from ODNR properties.
Hunting is permitted in designated areas during scheduled hunting seasons.
Like other Lake Erie islands, North Bass provides an important stop-over for migratory songbirds on their journey between breeding grounds in Canada and overwintering sites as far away as South America. A variety of warblers and shorebirds can be seen during spring and fall migrations.
The Lake Erie water snake can be spotted along the shores of North Bass. This large, non-venomous snake is marked with bands and can only be found in this region. It is a threatened species due to habitat loss and has one of the smallest known ranges of any vertebrate in the world.
Fox’s Marsh Wildlife Area is located in the southwestern corner of the island. Visitors can hear the song of the Western chorus frog in early spring within the 60-acre marsh area, which represents the remains of original coastal wetlands. The marsh provides a great place to spot waterfowl and other wetland species including common snapping turtles, green frogs, and the Eastern fox snake.
More to Do
- Picknicking — all areas are Carry-in/Carry-out.
- Backcountry camping is allowed in the park on a first come, first served basis. Call (419) 734-4424 to register.
- The island’s historic chapel and cemetery as well as the Simon Fox and Gottesman houses can be accessed via public roads on the island.
Because North Bass Island is so remote, you'll need to take a private boat to the marina or arrange a flight through an air service or private plane to North Bass Island Airport. The Lake Erie Shores and Islands Welcome Center is an excellent source for travel options and ideas, online at Lake Erie Shores & Islands or (800) 255-3743.
Flights range $40-50 for adults and children $20-25. Children under 2 are free.
- Bruce Ruthsatz - (419) 341-2805 - www.putinbaycharterfishingservice.com
- Ladd Marine Services - Paul Ladd - (419) 366-1147
- Marty Haryda - (419) 656-1226
History & Natural Features
North Bass Island, also known as Isle St. George, is the northern-most U.S. island in Lake Erie. It is located 18 miles from the Ohio mainland and less than 2 miles from the Canada border. At one time, the island was bisected by the international boundary of U.S. and Canada, but the boundary was shifted to place North Bass Island entirely in the United States.
The island’s first permanent residents were Roswell Nichols and his wife, who arrived in 1844 and lived in solitude until 1849. Early settlers, brothers Simon and Peter Fox, originally cleared the land to plant grapes and develop the island’s wineries. Those efforts were later expanded by Robert Gottesman. Remnants of their original residences remain on the island.
The public areas on North Bass Island were purchased with state funds and grants from the U.S. Department of the Interior, Land and Water Conservation Fund, and the Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program.
North Bass Island, in the western basin of Lake Erie, was formed during the glacial period when massive ice sheets from Canada advanced into Ohio. Glaciers gouged and scoured the bedrock, and their tremendous weight left deep depressions which filled with meltwater as the climate warmed and the glaciers retreated, forming the Great Lakes. Evidence of the glaciers can still be seen in the island’s dolomite bedrock as small scratches in the rock surface, known as glacial striations.
Overall, Lake Erie is the shallowest of the Great Lakes, ranging from 25 feet deep in the western basin, to 61 feet deep in the central basin, and an average depth of 120 feet in the eastern basin. As a result of its lopsided, shallow basin, Lake Erie is known for its sudden, violent storms with high waves. Warm water temperatures produce greater numbers and varieties of fish than any other Great Lake, including walleye, yellow perch, smallmouth bass, white bass, and channel catfish. Annual catches nearly equal the combined catch of all other Great Lakes.