We have stayed at Punderson State Park in Newbury, Ohio, three times over the past six years—each time with a slightly larger camping trailer (see this post on our rig progression). During our most recent trip we noticed that there were not many changes from the first two visits except a nice, new playground near the camp store. While the park was very safe and well groomed, we did not see any park rangers patrolling over the weekend (we were there Friday to Monday) and subsequently there were individuals at some sites openly consuming alcohol—one group had cases of beer out for all to see—even though it is prohibited. The park seemed to be popular with individuals and families escaping the hubbub of nearby Cleveland, but they seemed to forget to leave the fast-pace city behind since a number of vehicles had a difficult time following the 10 MPH within the campground loops. However, the overall atmosphere was reflective of a typical state park.
Many sites at Punderson State Park are small and narrow. Some sites even had the picnic table and fire ring behind the pad, and depending on how close and what position the neighboring sites were, some of these practically shared space with each other. Such an arrangement could work well if you are camping with others, but it could be intrusive if you were hoping for a private site. Punderson, which is well-known in the region as a winter sports park, also has numerous road-side sites. If you are pulling in just for the night they could work fine, but they are literally on the side of the roads, often with little to no green space on the curb side of the camper, with some on a slanted surface. In our opinion the campground is best suited for tents, pop-ups, and smaller travel trailers. Since we like to have our tow vehicle on the pad with the camper, there were only a few sites that our 32 foot camper and van would comfortable fit. And this was important because although some parks and campgrounds don’t mind if you park on the grass, at Punderson the campground hosts did enforce the “no parking on grass” rule.
Punderson does offer a handful of full hook-up sites, but it looked like you had to be fairly creative to level the campers from front to back since the back of the camper was at a higher elevation than the front. Also, as of our stay in the fall of 2013, the electric hook ups at the sites were only 20 amp; they did not have 30 or 50 amp service.
Our biggest disappointment with Punderson are the bathrooms, which are old and not well-designed. Kristin finds the shower stalls to be particularly frustrating since you have to walk through the curtained changing areas of the first two shower stalls if you want to shower in the most private one at the back (see pictures above for illustration).
Punderson’s lake (electric motors only) offers a great place to paddle a canoe or kayak both morning and night. I took an early morning paddle and watched the sunrise and then later that night the family stood on the bank and watched an awesome sunset! However, I do suggest launching from the “marina” area as the paths from the campground to the lake are pretty steep (although our neighbors seemed to launch from their site OK).
The campground has some great kid-oriented activities, including a staffed nature center that offers a great display of local wildlife. The weekend we were there they had planned a kids nature scavenger hunt and even awarded prizes. Additionally there is a frisbee golf course, basketball court, and brand new playground. Elsewhere in the park is a larger frisbee golf course, archery range, golf course, snowmobiling, mushing trails (yes, dogsled trails that hold races in the winter), and a full service lodge/restaurant.
Outside of the park there are touring opportunities, too, such as visiting Ohio Amish country or taking day trips into the Cleveland metro region.