Grand Lake St Marys State Park - Ohio

US National Parks and Monuments Travel Guide:

Nature of the Area

Although hard to imagine, at one time the Grand Lake St. Marys region was part of a vast forest wilderness that stretched from the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania to the prairies of Illinois • Today, in place of this forest are fields of corn, soybeans and wheat.

In addition to forests, pre-settlement Ohio contained large prairies and wetlands • The land which now lies beneath St. Marys reservoir was once a vast wet prairie • Today, the park contains varying habitats including woodlands, wetlands, and prairies in addition to the surrounding croplands.

Grand Lake St. Marys lies along one of the country's major migration routes • Water birds using the lake as a resting stop include Canada geese, ducks, grebes, swans, egrets, loons, herons, cormorants and ospreys • Many ducks, geese and heron also nest here • Bald eagles, magnificent birds long absent from the area, have again nested on the southwest corner of the lake at the wildlife refuge • Other animals of the park include fox squirrel, mink, raccoon, beaver, coyote, white-tailed deer and many others.

History of the Area

The area in and around Grand lake St. Marys State Park played an important part in the development of the Northwest territory • The St. Marys River served as a vital link between the Great Lakes and the Ohio River • Because of this heavy water traffic, the renegades Simon and James Girty established a trading post, which eventually evolved into the town of St. Marys • General “Mad” Anthony Wayne passed through the area in 1794 during this march to drive out the Shawnee, which culminated in the Battle of Fallen Timbers • Some of Wayne's men returned here to make their homes.

In 1837, work commenced on a reservoir for the Miami-Erie canal to maintain the canal’s five-foot water depth • Workers using hand tools were paid 35 cents a day and a jigger of whiskey to keep malaria away • At its completion in 1845, 13,500-acre Grand Lake was the largest man-made lake in the world • The lake was connected to the canal by a three-mile feeder.

The canal prospered until the coming of the railroads in the 1870s • The area experienced another boom in the late 1890s when oil was discovered • For a time the lake was dotted with oil derricks • Today a pile of rocks near the center of the lake marks the spot of the last producing well.

Grand Lake St. Marys and other canal feeder lakes in the state were the first areas to be dedicated as Ohio state parks in 1949


176 electric sites -- 28 non-electric sites -- Facilities include flush toilets, laundry, showers and a dump station. -- Pets are permitted except for the area in and around the Getaway Rentals -- Free WiFi access is available at the camp store to registered campers -- Separate swimming beach, boat launch and boat docks/tie-ups are available to registered campers -- Seasonal naturalist programs are offered on weekends Memorial Day through Labor Day -- Full-service camp store loans games, fishing and sporting equipment to registered campers -- Bike rentals and miniature golf course

Getaway Rentals

5 air-conditioned Camper Cabins may be rented April through October -- 2 spacious Cedar Cabins with all the amenities of a fully-equipped RV are also available for daily or weekly rental -- Pets are not permitted in the Getaway Rental units or area


Boats of unlimited horsepower are permitted on the 13,500-acre lake -- 8 state-operated launch ramps provide access to the lake -- Several private launch ramps also exist along the shallow shoreline -- Seasonal dock rentals are available, call the park office for information -- 300 foot no-wake zone has been established and is enforced around the lake's 52 miles of shoreline

Thestate wildlife refuge, located on the southwest corner, is off limits to boats at all times


Year-round fishing offers crappie, bass, bluegill, walleye and yellow perch -- Valid Ohio fishing license is required


4 public swimming beaches as well as other swimming areas provided for boaters -- Swimming is permitted during daylight hours only -- Swim at your own risk & be sure to keep an eye on the kids -- Pets are NOT permitted on swimming beaches -- Check for water quality advisories


9 Picnic areas with tables and grills are located in scenic areas around the lake -- 4 picnic shelters can be reserved

Winter Recreation (conditions permitting)

Snowmobiling -- Cross country skiing

More To Do

Basketball and volleyball courts -- Horseshoe pits -- Playground equipment -- Nature center offers programs during the summer -- Fur-Ever Friends Dog Park , thanks to the efforts of the volunteers of the Fur-Ever Friends Dog Park and the Celina Rotary Dog Park of the West Bank, is open and offers a place for your pets to frolic without a leash

Area Attractions

Lake Loramie State Park, southeast of Grand Lake St. Marys, offers fishing, boating, swimming and camping.

The Miami-Erie Trail, a 47-mile portion of the statewide Buckeye Trail, begins at Lake Loramie and passes within a mile and a half of Grand Lake St. Marys State Park • The Miami-Erie Trail terminates at Delphos, approximately 22 miles north of St. Marys.

St.Marys Fish Hatchery, located on the lake's eastern shore is operated by the ODNR Division of Wildlife • The hatchery raises saugeye, walleye, channel catfish and bass for distribution in the public fishing waters of the state.

The Neil Armstrong Air and Space Museum is located in Wapakoneta, Armstrong's boyhood home


834 Edgewater Drive, St. Marys, OH 45885

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