When you're looking to make a truly impactful trip that will expose you to the majesty of the Great Lakes, consider an RV-based Champaign to Erie road trip. When you're making such a road trip, you'll be able to see the shores of both Lake Michigan and Lake Erie, and you'll also be able to visit two truly breathtaking national parks along the way. This trip also will see you visiting some truly unique points of interest, and you'll also have a chance to get to know the denizens of places like Toledo. If you want to stretch things out a bit, it's easy to take up to a week to get to know the area.
Indiana Sand Dunes National Park
Indiana Sand Dunes National Park is the first national park that you will encounter along this Champaign to Erie RV road trip. Located along the southern shores of Lake Michigan, this park has various land and water activities to enjoy. Even though the beach is one of the main reasons that people come to the park, there are forests, rivers, and more that you can explore. In fact, there are over 50 miles of trails that you can hike that range in difficulty so that everyone can enjoy the park.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Cuyahoga Valley National Park is the other national park that you will find during this road trip. It is located in Ohio along the Cuyahoga River. Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a very scenic place to visit that has over 125 miles of hiking trails to enjoy as well as water activities on the river. Other activities that you can enjoy in the park include biking, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, golfing, horseback riding, and more. Bird watchers will also find that this is an area with quite a lot of migratory birds.
Kankakee River State Park
The first state park that you will want to stop at is Kankakee River State Park, which is located in northeastern Illinois. The park is approximately 4,000 acres, and it is an ideal place to enjoy some biking, hiking, geocaching, and more. Since it is located along the river, fishing, kayaking, and canoeing are fun activities to enjoy in the water. During the winter, there are skiing and snowmobile trails that you can explore as well.
Indiana Dunes State Park
Indiana Dunes State Park is ideal to visit any time of the year. In the summer, you can enjoy a hot day on a beach on the shore of the lake. In the fall, you can enjoy hiking, walking along the shoreline, and fishing. In the winter, there is cross-country skiing that you can take part in. During the spring, the birds will be coming back, and the wildflowers will be in bloom.
Harrison Lake State Park
Harrison Lake State Park is 142 miles in the beautiful agricultural region of Ohio. There are natural wetlands in the park, so you can find blue herons and egrets wading in the shallow waters looking for fish. There is a lake for fishing that has a swimming beach, and there are also 3.5 miles of trails to explore in the park.
Maumee Bay State Park
Another state park in Ohio that you will want to visit is Maumee Bay State Park. This park overlooks Lake Erie, making it a great place to spot wildlife and enjoy water activities. Two sandy beaches are designated for swimming, but fishing and boating are also easily doable on the lake. In fact, boat rentals are available in the park. If you want to relax among nature, you can enjoy some hiking on one or more of the trails in the park. There is also an 18-hole golf course. During the winter, visitors can go ice fishing, ice skating, skiing, sledding, or enjoy a nature walk in the park.
East Harbor State Park
East Harbor State Park is another park that is located along the shores of Lake Erie. It is a great place to enjoy boating, fishing, and swimming. The swimming beach is 1,500 feet in length, so there is plenty of room to spread out. There are more than 10 miles of trails to explore, and there is an 18-hole disc golf course in the park. Hunting is also permitted in the area with the appropriate license.
Bellaboo's Play and Discovery Center
During the beginning stages of your road trip itinerary from Champaign to Erie, consider a trip to Bellaboo's. This is an ideal point of interest to consider if you have children since they can explore the facility and engage in activities as part of a self-guided learning experience. Some activities include camps and classes for children to learn and hosted entertainment events. You can plan your kids' trips by their grade, and you and your children can have birthday parties, pizza parties, and there are room rentals for larger groups as well.
The Fallen Timbers Battlefield and Fort
In 1794, The Battle of the Fallen Timbers was the final battle of the Northwest Indian War. To commemorate this decisive encounter, the Register of Historic Places has created this commemorative site, which is managed by Metroparks Toledo. There are three sites at the fort: the Fallen Timbers Battlefield itself, the Fallen Timbers Monument, and Fort Miamis.
Squire's Castle is unique in the Ohio area because it's modeled after Baroque-era castles found in Germany and England. Located on the North Chagrin Reservation, the castle provides families with hiking and walking opportunities and is also pet-friendly. While on the site, you can enjoy some of the events hosted here throughout the year, like the Trail Challenge Dog Hike or the Little Explorers in the Snow, a guided play that features a unique story.
Located on the shores of Lake Erie, Splash Lagoon is a water park that your kids will love. It hosts numerous events throughout the year, such as Mommy and Me time, and there are also tons of water rides to enjoy while you're visiting the Great Lakes area. The park has day passes and overnight deals, and while here, you can enjoy attractions like the Flowrider surfing simulator and the expansive wave pool.
A road trip from Champaign to Erie will have you passing through Kankakee, which is about 60 miles from Chicago. When visiting this town of 25,830 residents, you'll experience a laid-back suburban vibe that makes it a great place to visit. Kankakee is also the home of the Kankakee Railroad Museum, the Harley Bradley House, and the sprawling and popular Majestic Theater.
While in Kankakee, consider parking your RV at one of the numerous Chicago-area campgrounds. Kankakee South KOA has accommodations for most full-hookups for most RV sites. This campground is also pet-friendly, so feel free to bring Fido along with you on your Great Lakes road trip. There are also dump stations in the area that you can use if you need them.
The city of Elkhart is about 110 miles from the city of Chicago, IL, and is actually one of the homes of the recreational vehicle industry. This is partially because the first RV factory was opened up in the city back in 1934. Outside of RVs, Elkhart is also a hub of musical instrument manufacturing. While visiting the "RV Capital of the World," also take a chance to check out the arts and culture scene in the city.
Elkhart, Indiana, campgrounds are fairly extensive, and you’ll easily find accommodations for most types of RV. A few examples include Elkhart Campground, South Bend/Elkhart KOA, and Pla-Mor Campground, which all have multiple sites with full hookups and swimming pools for the family to enjoy. Elkhart Campground is pet-friendly and even has a dump station that you can use.
The city of Toledo has a population of 276,614 and is considered one of the major trade centers of the American Midwest, thanks to its ports. With a history dating back to 1833, Toledo has a rich culture and vibrant arts scene. Take time to view the expansive vistas over the lake and find out why this town is nicknamed "The Glass City."
The top Toledo-area campgrounds include places like Toledo East, Big Sandy, and Twin Acres campgrounds. These all have hundreds of sites, and there are full hookups at each. While in the area, find a dump station where you can empty your wastewater since this is a little more than halfway through the trip.
When you follow this road trip itinerary from Champaign to Erie, you will enjoy historic locations and beautiful scenery along the way. If you want to travel in comfort and style, consider an RV rental from RVshare. From large motorhomes to compact campervans, there is a rig that will meet your travel and budget needs. Once you hit the road, you are protected by our renter guarantee and 24/7 roadside assistance. Find the perfect vehicle for your travel needs in Champaign or Erie.