A Little Escape: Cuyahoga Valley National Park

1-1250893099-cuyahoga-valley-national-park-entranceAfter a humbling sunrise witnessed on the rocky coast of Maine, this week our road trip takes us a little south to the lovely state of Ohio.  I know, Ohio is renowned for its bland landscape, frigid cities, and raging sports fans, but today we venture to the softer side of Ohio: it’s beautiful landscape.  Located a mere 27 minute drive from the city of Cleveland and tucked along the Cuyahoga River is our destination: Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

This welcome little haven away from the hustle and bustle of the busy city is a natural next stop on the tour of the National Parks.  Everyone knows about Yosemite, Yellowstone, and the Grand Canyon, but it can be easy to forget that our nation has many wonders hidden where you least expect them: namely, under thirty minutes away from the home of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

The valley has been celebrated for recreational potential for hundreds of years, but it first gained wide attention in 1925 when the Olmstead Brothers landscape architecture firm conducted a study to discover the potential of the park’s offerings.   In their words, “it is in the valley that one can realize most effectively a sense of isolation and freedom from the sights and sounds of all the multitude of circumstances which go to make the modern city—and when all is said and done that is the justifying purpose of a country park.”  Even then, when the cities were only beginning to develop, people realized that a secluded area away from all the action was something to be valued.  Over time, countless numbers of conservationists fought hard to protect the area from expansion and pollution until it was declared a National Recreation Area in 1974.

The path was never easy for the little Cuyahoga Valley.  But as we pull in to the park, past the unobtrusive sign mounted on the brick stand, it is immediately clear why the land is worth saving.  There’s something about undisturbed forest that invites exploration.  According to the National Park Service, many of the park’s best features make for excellent day trips, so let’s hop out of the car and get going!


Brandywine Falls at Cuyahoga National Park

If you’re in for a decent hike, we should head over to the Brandywine Falls, a 65 foot tall waterfall nestled into the little valley of the park.  We can take a look at these gorgeous falls from lower and upper observation decks, and if we’re looking to see the park further, we can hike the Brandywine Gorge Trail.  This winds down the valley around the falls, offering you interesting new views of the surroundings.

If you’re into a more historic adventure, we can hop on board the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad and ride around the valley.  Imagine being a within half an hour of a major city, riding on a train through beautiful wilderness.  What else could you want?

There’s something to be said of escaping an every day life in favor of a more austere environment.  By conserving these little havens away from our urban lives, we get to save a little bit of history- of times past.  We still get to enjoy the sounds of crashing waterfalls, running streams, and falling leaves.  Taking advantage of this luxury is something we simply must do.  What are you wasting your time doing?  Find one of these parks, head out there now, and start adventuring!

For more information:







6 responses to “A Little Escape: Cuyahoga Valley National Park

  1. I response to your and Kate’s comments about featuring Pennsylvania National Parks, I can report that there aren’t actually any official Pennsylvania National Parks to report on but I will save my last blog to share some things you can do in PA that are still under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service, most of them are historic or battlefields though!

  2. I think it’s hilarious how much you diss Ohio in the first paragraph. My entire family is from Ohio and I live a half hour away (three hours from my parents’ hometown) and I adore Ohio, but in the same ironic way that you sell the state. The quote you added from the Olmstead brothers was beautiful and made me want to visit this place as soon as I can. I also adore your addition of photos into your blogs!

  3. It’s so interesting to think that such beautiful, natural havens can lie so close to major cities! With such close proximity to Cleveland, visiting this park would be an ideal part of a longer trip! I really love parks with natural waterfalls, so this park is definitely on my must visit list. Do you know if these are falls that you can climb up in, or if they’re just meant for observation?
    I definitely agree with Katelin’s comment that you should feature some nearby parks more accessible to us students.
    Overall, I really enjoyed reading your blog and look forward to more!

  4. For a moment i thought i was actually inside the last picture because of the way you described the park. The things to do that you mentioned would be quite useful if i was to go there one day. I also liked the way you pointed out the place’s historical value rather than just elaborating its scenic beauty. I agree with the previous comment that this is an awesome idea for a blog.

  5. Katelin Shay Quanbeck

    Ohio?! Who knew, right? I think this is an awesome idea for a blog, and I like how your voice comes through when you’re writing about these beautiful places. The fall photo you included for this park looks amazing; autumn and waterfalls, that’s hard to beat! Will you do a post about a park nearby in PA? Traveling isn’t really an option for some of us, it’d be great to read about one nearby!

  6. Claudia Stephani Hernandez

    These pictures are so beautiful. I really believe that part of getting people to help save the environment is for them to open their eyes and see all of the wonderful things it has to offer. I instantly fell in love with that waterfall and you have definitely have inspired me to look into road trips and national parks. I look forward to reading your blog!

Leave a Reply