Upper River District1 of 4
The Steel Creek Campground offers 26 tent-only campsites and 14 horse camping sites. RVs are not permitted. Though mountains and exposed limestone bluffs surround the campground, many of the campsites are on open, grassy lots, perfect for nighttime stargazing. Launch your canoe right from the campground or, in the summer, take a dip in the river. The campground is open year-round but the restroom and water facilities are closed November through March (pit toilets are available in the offseason).
Ozark Campground is located down a bumpy dirt road and may be a difficult drive for RVs or vehicles with low clearance. Popular with boaters because of its great river access, Ozark Campground has 31 campsites, some shaded by trees and others right on the river. RVs are allowed but there are no hookups. The campsite is open year-round, but the flush toilets are closed November through March (pit toilets available).
Photo/jpellgen , Flickr
Middle River District2 of 4
While the campsites at Tyler Bend Campground may not provide a lot of privacy, you can't beat the location. The nearby visitor's center is the primary hub for the entire national river, and ranger programs are offered there regularly. The campground offers 10 walk-in sites, 28 drive-in sites and 5 group sites, as well as a day-use pavilion. But beware your bright lights at night; Tyler Bend is in the process of becoming an International Dark Sky Park, so some of the public lighting is turned off after dark. That's good news, though, as the stars will shine even brighter. Drive-in sites, restrooms and showers at this campground are open year-round, though walk-in sites and group sites are closed November through March.
For campers looking for a no-frills campground South Maumee fits the bill. There are five rustic campsites at South Maumee. The campground has no potable water or other amenities but it does offer solitude and abundant access to nature, including river access. And (bonus!) the campground is open year-round and is free.
Photo/Justin Meissen, Flickr
Lower River District3 of 4
Buffalo Point Campground is a large campground that parallels the river. It's also the only campground in the park with RV hookups. The 80-plus campsites are wooded and offer the usual amenities (fire ring, picnic table). If you're looking for an upgrade, this campground also rents cabins. Though things slow down here in the winter, one loop remains open through the coldest months. If you'd prefer to wait until the warm weather rolls around again, make a reservation now—Buffalo Point campground is the only campground in the park that takes them.
The antithesis of the aforementioned Buffalo Point Campground, Spring Creek Campground is a small, primitive campground offering 13 tent-only sites. But what it lacks in amenities (there are none, not even potable water) it makes up for in beauty and solitude. This campground has access to the river and to great hiking trails—so bring your fishing pole and your hiking boots.
Photo/Thomas Shahan, Flickr