(Last Updated On: January 24, 2023)
Welcome sign at Independence Dam State Park

Welcome sign at Independence Dam State Park. Photo: John A. Good, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Nestled on the picturesque banks of Ohio’s Maumee River in Defiance resides Independence Dam State Park.

Spanning 591-acres, this Ohio state park was established back in 1941. Previously it had served as the main artery for Native Americans to travel through the area along the waterway. However, now it is better known as a fabulous public recreational space to enjoy a range of outdoor pursuits.

Boating is one of the main activities people enjoy here and as there are no motor restrictions in place, all vessels are welcome. The likes of canoeing, kayaking, rowboats and paddle boarding are also popular in the park, while there is also a four-mile river section designated for water skiing.

Fishing, hiking and picnicking are also well practiced activities and during the winter many people come here to enjoy cross country skiing.

The park’s small rustic campground is tent only and most suitable for self-sufficient campers. However, if this is something you enjoy doing, it gives you the perfect opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the beauty of its surroundings.


Visitors to Independence Dam State Park can engage in a wide range of outdoor recreational activities during their time there.

Outlined below is a brief rundown of some of the many activities you can see and do at the park.

Boating at Independence Dam State Park

The park has a launch ramp incorporating four lanes that will easily help you get into the water.

As there are no horsepower restrictions within a four mile designated stretch above the dam, many people come here with their boats to zip around the water. Some partake in jet or water skiing as well.

For those who want to partake in paddling, a canoe portage is situated near the campground.

Fishing at Independence Dam State Park

As well as boating, the park provides excellent opportunities for fishing.

This takes place both above and below the dam on the banks of the river. (However, be aware motor restrictions are in place below the dam).

You will need a license in order to fish at the park. But once you have procured one you will be able to catch several species including the likes of crappie, smallmouth bass, northern pike, walleye and catfish.

Should you have access to a canoe, this will provide further angling options, as you will be able to move further away from the shore. Thus broadening the area in which you can fish.

Hiking at Independence Dam State Park

Although the trail is quite flat, there is a fabulous three mile path that hikers can attempt.

Taking you on a course through a dense forest of hardwoods the trail is quite straightforward to navigate. It previously served as a towpath between the Erie and Miami Canal and showcases exceptional views of the park’s landscape.

When hiking, it is always worth wearing a hat, proper footwear and plenty of sunscreen and bug spray. Take lots of water with you as well, particularly in the summer months and be sure to have your camera at the ready. There are lots of species of flora and fauna you might want to take snaps of!

Picnicking at Independence Dam State Park

Many people who come to Independence Dam State Park take the opportunity to enjoy a picnic overlooking the river.

You’ll find several grills, picnic tables and restrooms dotted along its banks. While each of the 25 sites at the campground also have their own tables and fire pits.

If you are attending the park in a larger group there are also two picnic shelters you can reserve for your get together. These shelters also include picnic tables, fireplaces and grills.

Cross Country Skiing at Independence Dam State Park

During the winter the park receives a lot of snow.

However, don’t let this stop you from visiting it as you will be able to enjoy cross-country skiing along its main trail.

Sadly you won’t find any snow-capped peaks to hurtle down. But you will be able to explore the park’s landscape, which takes on a majestic dimension under wintery conditions.

Pets at Independence Dam State Park

The park considers itself to be pet friendly. Although it does impose some restrictions on those who bring their four-legged friend with them.

At all times during their stay dogs must be well behaved. They must also be kept on a leash and cleaned up after should they make a mess.

Unless they are service dogs, they won’t be allowed inside many buildings as well.

Camping at Independence Dam State Park

For those who enjoy riverside camping, Independence Dam State Park has a lovely campground in which to stay at.

Situated on the park’s eastern side, most of the sites either flank the waterway or are situated within a couple of minutes walk to the river.

As it is a tent only campground, rigs are not accommodated. However, you will find 25 sites that are well suited for those who enjoy being self-sufficient.

Five of these sites are available on a first come, first served, walk-in basis. To stay at any of the other sites, it is recommended you make a reservation as far ahead of your visit as possible.

The campground is very rustic, so you will need to pack in and pack out your stuff. You will also have to bring plenty of water with you as potable water is not available.

While there are no showers available onsite you can walk to a restroom situated just outside of the campground.

Park Location

Independence Dam State Park
27722 County Road 424,
Defiance, OH 43512
Phone: 419.956.1368

Park Website



Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Independence Dam State Park: