When one thinks of national parks, one often thinks of majestic parks like Yosemite and Yellowstone, then Cuyahoga Valley National Park may be surprising. The Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a park that preserves and reclaims rural landscapes along the Cuyahoga River between Akron and Cleveland in northeastern Ohio.

It feels nothing like the great national parks in the West but is full of history and natural scenic beauty. It is one of the best things to do and visit while in the state of Ohio. The national park is right by Cleveland - it is a unique city that is also worth a visit.


What To Expect At Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Cuyahoga Valley National Park was originally designated as a national recreation area but was redesignated as a national park in 2000. It is the only national park in Ohio and one of only three in the Great Lakes Basin (the other two being Indiana Dune National Park and the Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior).

  • Size: 21 Square Miles or 132 Square Kilometers

Unlike other national parks, Cuyahoga Valley includes a dense road network, small towns, a bunch of City parks, public and private attractions, and is adjacent to two large urban areas.

  • Admission Fee: Admission is Free
  • Hours: Generally The Park is Open 24 Hours - Some Places Close At Dusk

The natural areas of the park include forests, rolling hills, narrow ravines, wetlands, and waterfalls. There are around 100 waterfalls in the valley of varying sizes with the largest being Brandywine Falls. The valley also includes the Talus caves amount the boulders in the forest.

  • Brandywine Falls: The Most Popular and Tallest Waterfall In The Park (Falling 65 Feet or 20 Meters)

The park also preserved and restored displays of 19th and earth 20th-century sustainable farming. The most notable is the Hale Farm and Village.

Related: Here's What's Known About The Great Blue Hole In Ohio And Why It Closed

Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail

There are plenty of trails in the park with the most notable being the 20-mile or 32-kilometer long Towpath Trail. This trail follows an old stretch of the 308-mile (496 kilometers) long Ohio and Erie Canal. It follows the same path that mules walked to tow canal boats loaded with goods and passengers. It is popular for running, hiking, and bicycling.

  • Length: 20 Miles or 32 Kilometers
  • Follows: The Path Follows The Ohio and Erie Canal

The trail was developed by the National Park Service and it has three visitor centers along the path (the Canal Exploration Center, the Boston Store, and the Hunt House). The trail also connects with other trails like the Cleveland Metroparks trail and the Buckeye Trail.

More information about this trail can be found on the National Park Service's website.

Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad

One of the popular attractions in the park is the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. It is a unique way to experience the natural wonders of the national park - along the route keep one's eyes peeled for eagles, deer, beavers, and herons in their natural habitat.

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The primary train stations for the train are the Rockside and Akron Northside stations. The schedule varies depending on the season one can see the schedules on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad's website. There is a range of choices with seating options including a coach, tabletop, and executive class. The train is even available for private charters and special events.

Related: Here's What Columbus, Ohio Is Best Known For, And Why It's Worth Visiting This Unique City

  • Timetable: Varies by Season

The Towpath Trail and the scenic train are not mutually exclusive. One can hike down the Towpath Trail (or even paddle down the river) in one direction and then hop on the train coming back.

Tip: Take The Scenic Train One Way and The Towpath Trail The other Way

One can just flag down the train at the boarding stations by waving both arms over one's head.

The history of trains in the valley stretches back over 100 years to 1880 when the Valley Railway began its operations. Its role was at first to transport coal to Cleveland, Akron, and Canton from the Tuscarawas River Valley as well as to provide passenger services. While it couldn't compete with the growth of cars and trucks, it has long been a scenic excursion route since 1972.

  • Duration: 3.5 Hour Round Trip Train Ride

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Tickets can only be purchased online or by visiting the depot prior to boarding and the tickets cannot be upgraded once on board.

Coach Round-Trip Ticket: With this ticket, one can enjoy a continuous round trip or choose to enjoy a brief two-hour stop at Peninsula for shopping and a bite to eat.

  • Ticket Price: $16 Per Adult
  • Ticket Price: $11 Per Child (Under 3 Are Free)

Coach All-Day Pass:

  • Ticket Price: $21 Per Adult
  • Ticket Price: $16 Per Child (Under 3 Are Free)

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