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Winter Camping at Punderson State Park

By Jenn

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Camping on a cold January night at Punderson State Park
Camping on a cold January night at Punderson State Park

I have been anxious to some winter camping for the last 2 years. Last year it didn’t work out and this year….let’s just say it’s hard to call camping in 50-60 degree temperatures, “winter camping.” I love the cold and snow and until last weekend, it has been scarce fir those of in the eastern half of the country, thanks to El Nino. This weekend I had a chance to do some winter camping in Ohio and test out my new tow vehicle. (Wait, did she say new TV? Yes, I’ll get to that, too.)

I Thought You Loved Your Jeep?

I did love it and it was not easy to part ways with it. We have seen some amazing things together and gone on some remarkable roads. As you likely know, I do a lot of long distance trips and for that reason, I like to keep newer vehicles. Thankfully, since I work at home, the trips don’t kill the value of my vehicles because the mileage is pretty normal.

So, before Christmas, I made a pretty good deal on a 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland, which has an off-road package (ORA II.) The Grand Cherokee comes with a factory tow package, which is much better for towing. It also gets better mileage but still very functional for the level of trails I travel. That’s the short of it. I will write a separate post on the Grand Cherokee after I have a few more towing miles under the belt, but my early impressions are favorable.


Punderson State Park

I was debating between checking out a couple of free campgrounds about an hour away from home or going somewhere further north in hopes of seeing snow. The prospect of snow, of course, won out in the end.

Punderson State Park is one of several state parks in Ohio that offers winter camping. The reviews I had read on Punderson were very mixed and after visiting, I can see why. It’s a park with so much potential yet in need of some serious updates. The sites are wonderful. Decent sized, many have trees near them or are lakeside. They are paved and level. Most have a fire ring and picnic table. You can choose from primitive sites to sites with electric in the winter. The heated shower houses and dump stations are open and water is available.Dump Station

The campground is also one of several that has Wifi. Using my Ubiquiti Nanostation, I was able to pick up a strong signal from site 84. I am not sure if performance would be the same with leaves on the trees.

Without using my cell phone booster, I received 2 bars of Verizon LTE. Using my Weboost cell phone booster, I only increased coverage to 3 bars, but the connection seemed (I didn’t check it) faster.

With my cheap little antenna, I was able to get around 27 TV stations, but about half of them were shopping and Spanish speaking. I think with a better antenna you could probably easily get all of the Cleveland TV stations.

Oddly, the campground looked like a small tornado or microburst had hit it, or an overzealous beaver, but the more closely I looked, the more it seemed as though there had just been a lot of trimming and tree removal. There was debris all over the campgrounds roads and some lf the sites were unusable. I learned from some local walking the grounds that the downed trees were removed due to blight from the Emerald Ash Borer.


spoke to another camper who told me that the campground is generally pretty full in the summer and that the park shows movies in the outdoor amphitheater on the weekends and offers great nature programs. In the winter, the park is known for winter activities including boasting a popular sledding hill. He noted the aged shower houses and that Punderson Manner won a grant to improve facilities. Upon further research, I learned that some of the sites were planned to receive electrical upgrades. Bathrooms

Some sites at the campground are right on the lake, which provides a view across the lake to Punderson Manner. Although I could see a fair amount of stars, there was a noticeable degree of light pollution present. Road noise was noticeable when I was outside of my RV and the machinery removing the trees ran all day long.Camp Store

All in all, camping at Punderson State Park is a nice experience. I look forward to trying it with leaves on the trees and more campers in the campground in warmer months.



What I liked:

  • Winter camping
  • WiFi
  • Large sites
  • Convenient location
  • Range of sites and hook-ups

What Could Have Been Better

  • Shower houses and bathrooms – very dated
  • Noise and light pollution
  • Electric was only 120v service
Winter details: $23 for electric, no reservations during winter, dump, water, electric (120v) Wifi)