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Don’t Regret Skipping this Hidden National Park in Cuyahoga Valley

Cuyahoga Valley National Park belongs on your road trip bucket list. This river valley is a natural wonder with a rich history, perfect for today’s adventurers.

Waterfalls, dense forests with seasonal foliage, and an endless supply of outdoor fun are waiting for you. It even has a historic railroad that runs through it.

Ready to plan your vacation to Cuyahoga Valley National Park? We’ve got everything you need to know here. 

Let’s hit the road!

Brandywine Falls in Cuyahoga Valley National Park in central Ohio near Cleveland in the late summer of 2009
You can hike to Brandywine Falls in Cuyahoga Valley National Park

About Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Founded in 1974, Cuyahoga Valley National Park is one of Ohio’s most beloved nature spaces. At 33,000 acres, it’s a massive, majestic area filled with scenic waterfalls and forestland. 

Ohio residents love this nature preserve for its beauty and outdoor activities. The possibilities are endless. You can hike, kayak, or cross-country ski through the grounds. 

You could also take a train or visit a farm, two adventures you don’t usually see in national parks. It’s a place that’s truly unlike any other.

Where Is Cuyahoga Valley National Park?

Cuyahoga Valley National Park sits along the Cuyahoga River, the “Crooked River,” in northeastern Ohio. But it’s not the only natural wonder in this part of the state. 

Northeastern Ohio also borders Lake Erie, a treasured place for residents to relax during warm weather and partake in snow sports during winter. Spring and summer are warm and humid, with chilly autumns and cold, snowy winters.

This area is also home to major cities like Akron and Cleveland. In this part of the country, you can get outdoors and visit the city all in one day. Northeastern Ohio is home to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, art museums, zoos, world-class theaters, and more. This region has it all.

When Is the Best Time To Visit Cuyahoga Valley National Park?

You’ll want to plan your visit to Cuyahoga Valley National Park according to your interests. Certain activities are more fun during specific times of the year.

One thing’s for sure. August to October is the most scenic season. It transforms during the fall months thanks to the impressive number of deciduous trees. You can enjoy beautiful gold, orange, and red foliage as autumn leaves show their colors.

But there’s no wrong time of year to visit, either. Springtime comes with wildflowers and lush greenery. April and May are the best months to see nature come to life.

Be forewarned that Ohio’s summers are extremely hot and humid thanks to all its lakes and rivers. Winter months may be too cold for comfort if you’re camping. On the flip side, there are fewer crowds during this time. Visit from November to March to have the place all to yourself.

Fun Things To Do Near Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is one of the most unique places in the NPS. There aren’t many spots that offer traditional activities like hiking as well as offbeat adventures like train rides, farm visits, and more.

Here are three fun things you can do in and around this nature preserve. 

Ride the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad has to be one of the coolest ways to see a national park. Climb aboard a California Zephyr train car and chug down this historic railroad built in the late 1800s. 

The ride takes two hours round-trip and features some of the most beautiful sites along the river. The route winds through four stations: Peninsula, Indigo Lake, Botzum, and Akron.

The train welcomes people of all ages, so bring the whole family! Tickets start at around $18 for adults and $13 for kids. Senior discounts are also available.

Explore the Towpath Trail

The Towpath Trail, or “Towpath” for short, is one of the most impressive trails in The Buckeye State. This largely unpaved path stretches for nearly 100 miles, passing through Akron, Cleveland, and Dover, among other cities.

The hike mirrors the original Ohio & Erie Canal route that once transported goods and supplies through the state. This trail is perfect for visitors of all ages. You can bike, run, or walk at your own speed and enjoy the natural scenery. It’s also wheelchair and stroller accessible.

Hike the Brandywine Gorge Loop

You can’t beat the Brandywine Gorge Loop for a gentle and undeniably beautiful hike. It’s 1.5 miles long and runs past Brandywine Falls, a gorgeous 65-foot waterfall. A creek also flows along this route, adorned with different species of trees, plants, and wildlife.

It takes anywhere from one to two hours to complete. Although the trail is unpaved and inaccessible to wheelchairs, you can bring service animals and pets on leashes. The hike is relatively easy and open to kids ages six and up.

It’s also nearby, but Can You Visit the House from A Christmas Story?

Fall Landscape (Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio)
Late summer and fall are excellent times of year to visit Cuyahoga Valley

Best Places to Stay Near Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Need a place to rest after exploring Cuyahoga Valley National Park? Northeastern Ohio has many fabulous accommodations, whether you’re looking for a campground or a luxury hotel.

Here are some of the best spots to stay nearby.

Silver Springs Campground

Silver Springs Campground is a peaceful place to set up your RV or tent near the park. It offers 20-amp and partial hookups, vault restrooms, water, trash, and a dump station. You can also take advantage of fire rings and picnic tables, explore nearby trails, and even play horseshoes or basketball onsite.

Campsites at Silver Springs start around $15 per night.

Looking to boondock while you’re in the area? Check out the 7 Best Free Campgrounds in Ohio.

Shady Oaks Farm Bed and Breakfast

If you want an elegant, quiet place to rest your head, Shady Oaks Farm Bed and Breakfast is your best bet. This upscale B&B offers a choice of suites, each with a bedroom, sitting room, and en-suite bathroom. 

The property has ponds, gardens, and a walking trail surrounded by several acres of woodlands. There’s even a horse pasture onsite!

Shady Oaks is often booked several weeks out, but a stay in this federal period-style hotel is worth planning ahead. Suites vary in price but start around $180 per night.

Inn at Brandywine Falls

If you plan to visit Brandywine Falls, overnighting at the Inn at Brandywine Falls is a no-brainer: it’s right next door. The inn was initially built in 1848 and belongs to the National Register of Historic Homes.

Choose from incredibly well-preserved rooms like a barn loft suite and enjoy old-timey amenities like wood-burning stoves and clawfoot tubs. Also, the breakfast is out of this world. Rooms vary in price but start at about $180 per night.

Relive your memories with this Cuyahoga Valley National Park puzzle.

Is a Cuyahoga Valley National Park Road Trip Worth It?

Cuyahoga Valley National Park isn’t the kind of place you can see in a day. With thousands of acres of forestland, railroad tours, and picturesque inns, this is an area you could explore for days or even a week!

And you can’t go wrong with a trip with many family-friendly options. This northeastern Ohio paradise is definitely worth the trip.

Discover the Best Free Camping Across the USA

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