The Gem in Our Backyard
Have you been watching the Ken Burns series The National Parks: American’s Best Idea? My favorite was episode 1, The Scripture of Nature. Our national parks are truly sanctuaries and are unique. Thank God for the men and women who had the vision to set aside these natural wonders for us to enjoy. I’ve had the privilege of visiting many national parks, forests and monuments. I’ve watched the geysers of Yellowstone in awe and wonder and hiked the underground mazes of Mammoth Cave. Such a heavy sadness settled over me at Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park that I don’t believe I can ever go back. I’ve been relieved to drive out of the chaos of Gatlinburg into the quiet of the Great Smoky Mountains. Just this year we were able to enjoy the vistas of the Gila National Forest and hike up a mountain to see the Gila Cliff Dwellings in New Mexico. (Click here to see those pages.) However, sometimes we forget that we have one of these gems right in our own back yard – Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
We try to visit CVNP several times a year, in all seasons. The park has something for everyone. Remnants of the Ohio and Erie Canal, locks and historic buildings; outstanding birding; the Towpath Trail, a multi-use trail that follows the path of the canal and runs from Cleveland to Akron and beyond; the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad;snow skiing; scenic vistas; peaceful picnic areas; little towns and something new – small farms and a vineyard.
Here are just a few of my photos in the park. There are lots of photos in the gallery on the parks web site.
Cleveland’s public television station, WVIZ, also put together a photo montage of viewer photos – A Day in the Valley. It’s a great video tour of the park.
The Cuyahoga Valley National Park consists of 33,000 acres of recreation, conservation and natural beauty, located less than 30 miles from 4 million residents of Northeast Ohio, and just a half day drive for 27 million people. I hope you get to visit this park someday, after all, you own it!
Travel Tips: The web site has maps and directions. No camping is allowed in the park. There is a hostel and nearby hotels. Be sure to make one of the visitor centers your first stop – they have more maps and ideas about where to go and what to do. If you are a bicyclist or hiker, you will love the Towpath Trail, almost completely flat, paved or hard pack surface the whole way, lots of shade in the summer – we have ridden it several times all the way from the north end of the park to the Akron city limits. Pack a lunch or plan to eat at the Winking Lizard Tavern in Peninsula – you can rent bicycles at Century Cycles in Peninsula too. In the summer, get ice cream at the Boston store (seasonal hours only).
Or take the train. Oh, and I must remind you that it is a river valley, with standing water in the canal sections, so use heavy duty mosquito repellant in summer! A great reason to visit in the fall…Cuyahoga Valley National Park
15610 Vaughn Road
Brecksville, Ohio 44141 Visitor Information