Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Lock No. 39 and Spillway, a portion of the historic Ohio and Erie Canal.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a United States National Park in Cuyahoga County and Summit County, Northeast Ohio, USA.


It is the only national park in Ohio. According to the US National Park Service, the Cuyahoga Valley is the 5th most frequently visited park (3,217,935 recreational visits in 2002) in the National Park System.

Though it is a short distance from urban environments, the park is worlds away. The winding Cuyahoga—the "Crooked River"-was named by Mohawk (Native American tribe)—gives way to rolling floodplain, steep valley walls and ravines, and lush upland forests. Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a refuge for flora and fauna, and provides both recreation and solitude for Northeast Ohio's residents and visitors.


The park has a rich cultural legacy as well. Exhibiting a historical view of the heart of the industrial revolution, visitor centers provide background on the remains of the Ohio & Erie Canal, which traveled through the valley connecting the St. Lawrence Seaway and the East Coast to the Gulf of Mexico (via the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers) in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Sustainable farming ventures help preserve the valley's agricultural heritage. The park offers an array of displays of 19th and early 20th Century sustainable farming while catering to contemporary interests with art exhibits, outdoor concerts and scenic railroad tours. It includes compatible use sites not owned by the federal government, including several Metroparks in Cuyahoga and Summit Counties, Blossom Music Center, and the Hale Farm & Village. In the mid 1980s, the park hosted the National Folk Festival.


The park encompasses 51 mi² (134 km² and 33,000 acres) along the banks of the Cuyahoga River, spanning from the major metropolitan areas of Cleveland and Akron and into the hills of the Allegheney Mountain range. The diverse landscape, including sandstone ledges, 70 waterfalls (most notably Brandywine Falls), rolling hills and river gorges, can be viewed from 186 miles of trails.

Flora and fauna

More than 3,000 species of plants are known to occur in Ohio. Among many other flora, the park boasts maple, oak, birch, beech and hemlock trees. In the autumn, the vibrant colors of the changing leaves are breathtaking, even when viewed from interstate highways. Native wildflowers are abundant and provide a colorful milieu, especially in the spring. Look for Ohio spiderwort, wild hyacinth, trillium, showy orchid, pink lady’s-slipper, purple wood-sorrel, violets, wild blue phlox and Indian paintbrush among more than 250 species that grow in Ohio. The park is also home to a variety of wildlife, such as beaver, deer and dozens of bird species including wood duck and heron.


Enjoy the park any time of year. When the spring blossoms appear, Northeast Ohio temperatures typically range from 40 to 60 degrees fahrenheit. The warmer summers tend to be sunny and somewhat humid with temperatures in the 70s and 80s fahrenheit (occasionally into the 90s). Northeast Ohio autumns provide breathtaking landscapes of the changing color of leaves and temperatures from the 40s to the 60s. During the winter months, downhill ski the slopes or cross-country ski the trails, but dress for temperatures below 30 degrees fahrenheit with windchill factors occasionally driving the experience below 0 fahrenheit. Average precipitation is fairly steady year round from 2.5 to 3.5 inches per month.

Get in

By plane

By car

Highways providing access to the Park include I-77, I-271, I-80 (Ohio Turnpike), and State Route 8. Park signs are visible from each of these freeways as you get close to the valley.

By train

By Amtrak Lake Shore Limited, it gets in early morning both directions to Cleveland. Sadly there is no train service between Cleveland and the 8 miles to Rockside Road.


Entry into the park is free, but scheduled events, concerts and other activities may be subject to a fee.

Get around

By car

Drive the scenic CanalWay, which is clearly marked by signage throughout.

By foot

Walk, bike or run the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath, the soft, fine gravel path provided the course for mules to pull the boats along the canal. Hike the trails.

By train

Ride the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, stations are in Independence, Peninsula and Akron. Additional intermediate stations are located in Brecksville, Boston Mill, Indigo Lake and Botzum.



A portion of the Ohio and Erie Canal Tow-Path Trail. The Cuyahoga River used to run to the immediate left of the shown path, but has been recently directed via dam to run further to the left behind the trees.

Park trails offer a variety of activities, from rugged backcountry hiking trails to the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail, a graded biking and hiking trail with the crushed limestone along portions of the 20 mile (30 km) trail, a former stretch of the 308 mile (496 km) canal.



There are numerous picnic sites throughout the park, but the park itself contains no restaurants or cafeterias. Nearby cities and towns offer numerous dining options.


Drinking water is available throughout the park. Nearby towns and cities offer numerous coffee houses, breweries, and other drinking options.


There are some campsites and inns throughout the park.


The Inn at Brandywine Falls (see the Sagamore Hills article) is located within the park boundaries. Additional lodging options can be found in nearby towns and cities.


The National Park Service offers one primitive campground (no drive-in access):

There are also several State Park campgrounds are nearby:


The backcountry in this unusual National Park takes you into the surrounding cities and towns.

Stay safe

Do not drink water from the streams and ponds. The Cuyahoga River has navigational hazards and highly variable water quality. Swimming, wading, canoeing and kayaking are not advised.

Go next

The park is surrounded by one of the most culturally endowed regions in the US, including the cities of Cleveland, Akron and Canton. Visit New England style towns of the Connecticut Western Reserve, such as Hudson and Medina. Amish communities are of substantial size in nearby Holmes (south and west of the park) and Geauga (north and east of the park) Counties. Head northwest to the Lake Erie Islands, North Coast Beaches and Ohio Wine Country or south to the Wayne National Forest.

Routes through Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Cleveland Richfield  N  S  Fairlawn Akron
Toledo Richfield  W  E  Streetsboro Youngstown

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Wednesday, June 25, 2014. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.