About Kelleys Island

Kelleys Island is in the western basin of Lake Erie approximately twelve miles from Sandusky, Ohio, and four miles due north of the Marblehead Peninsula. Although it is only a short drive from many large metropolitan areas, this largest American island in Lake Erie  is almost within sight of the Canadian border. Its year-round population of 367 swells up to 1300 from June to August.

Lake Erie Coastal TrailKelleys Island is on the Lake Erie Coastal Trail and on the National Historic Register of  Historic Places. By golf cart, bicycle or on foot, visitors explore the island’s historical neighborhoods and restored houses, as well as its scenic treasurers and natural wonders!  

Sooner or later everyone arrives at the Glacial Grooves Memorial to see the world’s largest and most spectacular examples of glacial grooves. Viewing these grooves scoured into the native limestone bedrock by the advancement of the Wisconsin glacier 30,000 years ago is a sight to remember!  

On the south shore is another interesting stop, Inscription Rock State Memorial. This flat-topped limestone boulder has faint pictographs of persons, birds and animals. Historians believe that Indians carved the images between three and four hundred years ago.

Its location in Lake Erie makes Kelleys Island a perfect spot for water activities. Fishermen refer to Kelleys Island as the “Walleye Capital of the World." Bait shops sell supplies and licenses and are happy to provide the most current news of what is biting and where. Dock rental is available in several locations. Other  water activities include sailing and power boating, canoeing and kayaking, and snorkeling and scuba-diving on near by shipwrecks.  

One of the island’s biggest assets is its flora and fauna. Unusual land species include the Lakeside Daisy, rock elm and bog violet. Lake Erie water snakes frequent the island’s shoreline. Bird life is evident at all seasons, with abundant numbers of migrating songbirds, raptors and waterfowl in both spring and fall. Occasional sightings of rarer bird species, such as Kirtland’s Warbler and Chuck-will’s Widow, occur annually. Nesting species to watch for are the Bald Eagle, American Woodcock, and Yellow Warbler. In late spring and early summer months white-tailed deer with their fawns graze along island roads.

Late summer is the time to watch for butterflies and dragonflies, especially monarchs feasting on milkweed before continuing their southbound journeys.  Every year during our Butterfly Festival sponsored by the Kelleys Island Historical Association we tag monarch butterflies as they stop over to rest on their journey south.