Want to experience serene nature, rolling hills, sprawling rivers between the sprawling cities of Cleveland and Akron, Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a place for you!
|Park||Cuyahoga Valley National Park|
|Things To Do||Picnic, Drive, Discover|
|Hotels Near Banff National Park||Hilton Garden Inn Cleveland, La Quinta Inn & Suites, Many More|
|Price||No Admission Fee|
If there’s one word to describe Cuyahoga Valley National Park, it might be “Surprise”.
Whether you’re planning a one-day trip or want to stay a bit longer, here is everything you need to know before heading to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Let’s get started!
Cuyahoga Valley National Park is among the top 10 most visited parks in the United States and the only national park in Ohio.
Stretching between Cleveland and Akron, the park welcomes nearly 3 million visitors every year.
- Denali National Park
- Grand Teton National Park
- Grand Canyon National Park
- Canyonlands National Park
- Big Bend National Park
Unlike most national parks, Cuyahoga Valley National Park is not surrounded by forests, rustic lodging, and campgrounds. Instead, it is an oasis right in the middle of industry and housing.
Covering over 33,000 acres of land, the park is full of natural and manmade attractions.
From deep forests, rivers, and grasslands to scenic roads, encompassing towns, city parks, and other private attractions, Cuyahoga Valley National Park is hardly comparable to other national parks.
Other fun activities for visitors include art exhibitions, skiing, and concerts.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park’s history is as unique as its natural and manmade attractions.
In 1960, local citizens and public officials feared that the urban sprawl was threatening the natural beauty of the valley.
They joined forces with national and government services to find a long-term solution to the problem.
In 1974, Congress passed a bill to establish the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area.
The Park began acquiring the land and signed agreements with the developments already present such as Cleveland and Summit County metropolitan park district and Blossom Music center.
On October 11, 2000, the area was renamed a Cuyahoga Valley National Park to justify its status as a recreation area.
Today the park serves as a metropolitan area in a variety of ways. It may not fit well in the idea of the national park for everyone but still, that doesn’t tarnish its popularity among visitors.
Things to do in the Park
Here are the top 5 things you can’t miss on your first visit to Cuyahoga Valley National Park:
Hike to the Virginia Kendall Ledges
Cuyahoga Valley National Park offers miles of hiking trails but Virginia Kendall Ledges is one of the top favorites among tourists.
This 2.2-mile trail is moderate in difficulty and provides spectacular views along the way.
The ledges trail takes you through a forested landscape, massive limestone boulders, and mossy cliffs.
The trail overlook treats visitors with an expansive view of Cuyahoga Valley and is perfect to visit in any season.
Brandywine waterfalls are an absolutely must-visit site in the park that will make you return again and again.
This 60-foot waterfall is accessible from a parking area and is open for visitors all year round.
If you want to hike, there’s a longer trail to the waterfalls that allows you to see the park from several vantage points.
The trail is especially worth visiting during spring when it is filled with blooming wildflowers and offers stunning views.
Moreover, the vernal pools are filled with water drawing breeding salamanders.
Visit Tinkers Creek Gorge Scenic Overlook
Tinker’s Creek gorge is one of the best scenic overlooks in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park that offers a panoramic view of lush valley covered with a thick, deciduous forest from the rim of the gorge.
The overlook was declared as a National Natural Landmark in 1967. Located on the Gorge Parkway, it is extremely easy to access which makes it a perfect option for a fun family day out.
The gorge is especially worth visiting during fall when vibrant fall colors cover the entire valley with gorgeous orange and red colors.
Experience the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad
Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad is one of the best ways to experience the everything park has to offer.
The tarin waves through the Cuyahoga Valley and provide passengers an opportunity to experience the serene forest up close and spot the wild animals in their natural habitat. The ride takes 3-and a half-hour and returns to your starting point.
The scenic rides of the railroad are extremely popular among park visitors as they can just sit back and enjoy the amazing views.
Explore the Deer Lick Cave Trail
The Deer Lick Cave scenic loop trail takes you to the Deer Lick Cave and Deer Lick Cave Falls. The cave is basically a rock overhang but it looks incredible nevertheless.
The cave is named after White-Tailed deer who lick the cave’s sandstone to get their salt supply especially in the Springtime for survival.
There are two trailheads to get to the Deer Lick Cave Trail, one is a 4-mile hike and the other is a 1-mile hike. If you’re up for a real hike, we’d recommend taking the first one.
Best time to visit
Cuyahoga Valley National Park can be visited at almost any time of year, but the best times to visit the park are Spring and Fall.
Spring wildflowers and fall foliage adds extra beauty to the park and make it a visual treat.
Plus, most of the special events and ranger-led activities that are curtailed during winters are open in these months.
Weekends can be crowded along the Towpath Trail, so avoid visiting if you don’t like crowds.
To make your visit more enjoyable, make sure to download the official map of Cuyahoga Valley National Park to locate visitor centers, roads, trail routes, and attractions.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park has a hot and humid climate. During Summer, the average daily temperature ranges from 49 to 95°F with little humidity, so we’d recommend dressing in layers.
In winters, the weather tends to change drastically because of Lake effect snow from Lake Erie. The average daily temperature varies from the mid-30s to below zero.
Spring is the best time with mild and warm temperatures and blooming wildflowers. Check out the current weather before vising the park.
There are no camping options available in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. However, some private companies and state park campsites are available near the park.
Hotels Near Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Whether you want to stay within the Cuyahoga Valley National Park or choose to stay at vacation rentals,
check out the options below:
- Inn at Brandywine Falls
- Hilton Garden Inn Cleveland
- La Quinta Inn & Suites
- Red Roof Inn Cleveland-Independence
- Country Inn & Suites by Radisson
Entry Fee & Passes
There is no admission fee to enter Cuyahoga Valley National Park and visitors are encouraged to support the park with the “Towpath Tag Donation Program”.
However, visitors are required to pay for the concerts and other events held at the park.
Checklist for Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Here’s a list of items you must pack for your trip to Cuyahoga Valley National Park:
- Day Backpack
- Seasonal clothing
- Waterproof jacket
- Sunscreen & Sunglasses
- Water bottles
- Hiking shoes
- Waterproof boots
- High energy snacks
- First-aid kit
- Map & Compass
What makes the Cuyahoga Valley National Park Unique?
The Park is mainly famous for its natural and private attractions which makes it different from other national parks.
How many days would I need to explore Cuyahoga Valley National Park?
You can see the main highlights of the park in one day, but we’d recommend spending 2 days exploring everything in detail.
How long does it take to drive through Cuyahoga Valley National Park?
It takes approximately 4-hours to drive through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.