Ohio activities

Ohioans enjoy nighttime kayaking at High Rocks Adventure

After dark

As twilight comes, the rugged cliffs, crevices, and outcroppings at High Rocks Adventure add a sense of mystery to what’s already an adrenaline rush. 

Night rappels are trips into the unknown. “You can’t see the bottom of the cliff, so there’s a lot of trust needed,” says Kayce, a member of South Central Power Company. Sometimes, the trust pays off with even more thrill — one time during a solo rappel, with her headlight turned off, 
a screech owl’s wings brushed silently past her face.

Riding the Miller Ferry with Mitten Kitten was on Lindy Brown’s bucket list, as is evident in this ferry cool selfie.

Silver bullet

Wally Byam’s childhood was spent immersed in nature. He worked on a West Coast sheep farm, where he lived in a donkey-towed wagon that was outfitted with a stove, food, water, and just about everything else he could possibly need. 

Byam’s love of camping and the outdoors, combined with American ingenuity, resulted in a product that lasts for decades and is instantly recognizable around the world.

Perhaps best of all, it’s made in Ohio — Byam moved the production to Jackson Center in rural Shelby County right after World War II, and workers there build upward of 120 of the iconic silver bullets every week, all by hand.

Surfing lessons on the coast of the Great Miami River

Surf's up

Downtown Dayton is your typical urban Midwestern city, filled with blacktop and busy streets, high-rises, and noisy traffic.

But wait: There are also surfers, who are apt to be happily catching a wave out on the water.

River surfing is similar to ocean surfing, but instead of catching waves caused by the wind, it’s done on standing river waves created by flowing whitewater.

“It’s a rush,” says Shannon Thomas, a Dayton native and pro river surfer and paddleboarder. “Anyone who has surfed knows that special feeling you get when you’re on a wave. It’s amazing; very spiritual, very addictive.” 

A person ziplining through the forest

Treetop adventure

Jody Christiansen was into trees, and he enjoyed finding ways to get other people into them as well.

In 2004, he discovered his dream. He and his wife, Anna Lee, took their family on a trip to Costa Rica to celebrate daughter Madison’s high school graduation and his completion of chemo treatment for lymphoma. Jody, an avid recreational tree-climber, took an interest in a zipline experience they had while they were there.

Two horses lead a canal boat down the river

Take a ride on a historic canal boat

Only a few years ago, when Buckeye Lake in central Ohio was being drawn down for dam repair, workers made a historic find: Hidden in those murky depths was a sunken canal boat called the Black Diamond.

“It’s the first archaeological-documented canal boat discovery in Ohio,” says Andy Sewell, historian with Columbus-based Lawhon and Associates, an environmental consulting firm associated with the dam project.

A man stands behind a woman pointing a gun at the clay in the air.

Shooting stars

For years, competitive shooter and professional shotgun shooting coach Dan Bailey of Mount Vernon dreamed of building and owning his own commercial clay-target shooting range. That dream came true in the summer of 2017 when he and his wife, Peggy, opened Eagle’s Nest Sporting Grounds, an 85-acre, state-of-the-art shooting facility located near Mount Gilead in central Ohio, served by Consolidated Cooperative.

A large crowd celebrates and dances in front of a stage

Showtime: The Country Concert

Michael Barhorst never tired of standing near the covered stage in the natural amphitheater on his property in rural Shelby County, watching thousands of country music fans enjoy the Country Concert he organized every year.

Fans came there to enjoy headliners, old favorites, and newcomers to the country music scene, to camp out and have fun with friends, and to share their love for the music with a massive crowd. “It is so rewarding,” Barhorst often remarked to friends and family, “to watch thousands of people take a shared emotional journey through the power of a song.”

The sun sets behind an island on Lake Erie

Lake Erie island campgrounds

Whether you enjoy tent camping or drive the largest motorhome on the road, there’s a campsite awaiting you on the Ohio islands of Lake Erie. Accessible by ferry, South Bass, Middle Bass, and Kelleys Island state parks offer a unique camping experience close to home.

No one knows the Lake Erie islands better than Steve Riddle. Raised on Middle Bass, Riddle spent a 30-year career managing the three island parks for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Today, he is the police chief of Put-In-Bay, the small village on South Bass Island.

Hocking College students in period clothing pose with the distilling equipment in New Straitsville.

Out of the shadows: White lightning goes legit

For centuries, moonshine has loomed large in the American imagination — the illegally produced liquor was a key part of the underground economy of many states in the South and in Appalachia. During Prohibition, backwoods moonshiners helped supply speakeasies across the country. NASCAR has its roots in the souped-up cars used by moonshine runners to transport booze. Moonshiners have been the subject of dozens of movies, hundreds of songs, and numerous TV shows, from The Dukes of Hazzard to Moonshiners, a reality show on the Discovery Channel.