8 National Parks In Ohio

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Ohio may not have the most national park sites in the United States, but it does have a few that stand out. The best national parks in Ohio include historic sites, parks and memorials dedicated to some of the state’s most memorable and historic events. The striking earthworks at the Hopewell Culture Park and the breathtaking Cuyahoga Valley National Park are among the eight Ohio national park sites to visit.

8 National Parks In Ohio

1- Cuyahoga Valley National Park

national parks in ohio brandywine falls in autumn
The stunning Brandywine Falls in autumn is a beauty spot in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is an Ohio national park that preserves and restores the natural setting of the Cuyahoga River, which flows north through the park before emptying into Lake Erie in Cleveland.

Cuyahoga Valley was initially a National Recreation Area in 1974 and was elevated to national park status in 2000.

The park includes natural, man-made, and private attractions, which is not common among national parks in the United States.

The National Park Service manages the 32,572-acre (13,181 ha) park, but some areas are governed by other bodies.

Among the natural areas are waterfalls, ravines, wetlands, forests, and rolling hills.

The park offers a variety of attractions and outdoor activities. It is the only national park that began as a recreation area.

Things To Do In The Park

national parks in ohio camping fall trees
Cuyahoga Valley is the top National Park in Ohio and si stunning in the fall.

There are numerous outdoor activities in this national park; here are a few:

  • Hiking

The Cuyahoga Valley has approximately 125 miles (201 km) of hiking trails that range in difficulty and pass through various habitats.

Hiking through the park allows visitors to immerse themselves in nature completely.

  • Bird Watching
how many national parks in ohio warbler in swampy woodlands
A Prothonotary Warbler sitting on a branch.

Birding is a popular activity at Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Because of the diverse habitats, over 200 different bird species can be found here all year.

  • Winter Sports

While the park offers a variety of exciting activities, the winter months are special because you can go cross-country and downhill skiing, snowshoeing, snow tubing and sledding.

Other activities include biking, paddling, picnics, fishing, horseback riding and stargazing.

How To Get To The Park

are there any national parks in ohio?
A small waterfall in the autumn in the forest in Brandywine Creek in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio.

The Boston Mill Visitor Center at 6947 Riverview Road, Peninsula, is easy to get to by car.

2- Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park

national parks in ohio wright brothers model aircraft
The Wright Brothers’ achievements are remembered at Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park.

This historical park is an 86-acre (35 ha) park that was established in 1992 to honour Wilbur Wright, Orville Wright, and poet Paul Laurence Dunbar.

Dayton is where the Wright brothers explored the possibility of flight.

They are well-known for inventing, building, and flying the world’s first successful motorized air vehicle, which shaped the modern era and paved the way for the development of modern aeroplanes.

The park also commemorates the life and works of Paul Laurence Dunbar, an African-American poet and close friend of the Wright brothers.

During his lifetime, this great writer garnered national attention with several of his works, including plays, novels, short stories and over 400 published poems.

The park now serves as a tribute to his works and history.

Things To Do In The Park

  • Visit Paul Laurence Dunbar House Historic Site

Visitors can tour the historic home of Paul Laurence Dunbar and learn about his life, travels and poetry through interpretive exhibits and displays.

  • Visit Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center

This Interpretive Center is one of two visitor centres in the park, west of downtown Dayton.

Here, visitors can learn more about Orville and Wilbur Wright, as well as Dunbar, by watching informative videos and interactive displays.

  • Explore Huffman Prairie Flying Field

Visitors can take a walk around the area and see a model hangar where the Wright brothers kept their planes.

A large prairie area also allows visitors to explore and discover nature.

How To Get To The Park

You can reach the park via I-70, I-75, or U.S. Route 35 in west-central Ohio. Wright Dunbar Interpretive Center, the park’s main visitor centre, is at S. Williams St. and W. Third St. in Dayton.

3- Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument

The 60-acre (24 ha) park honours Charles Young, an African American soldier who was born a slave in Kentucky in 1864 and became a soldier, despite the many challenges he faced as an African American.

Charles Young began his military career as a Buffalo Soldier and rose through the ranks to become the army’s first African-American colonel.

He was the third African American graduate of West Point, the first black national park superintendent and the first African American military attaché in the United States.

The monument is a house Young purchased in 1832 while teaching military science at Wilberforce University.

It was established in 2013 and the house, also known as Youngsholm, has exhibits about Young and the Buffalo Soldiers.

Things To Do In The Park

  • Guided Tours

A guided tour is an eye-opener about the struggles and life of a remarkable man.

  • How To Get To The Park

The park is on U.S. Route 42 at 1120 US Route 42 E, less than a mile west of the Wilberforce University and Central State University campuses.

4- First Ladies National Historic Site

best national parks in ohio building lit up at night in winter
Canton is where you will find a national park site in Ohio for history lovers.

This historic site was established to educate the public about the contributions to society of the USA’s first ladies.

Mary Regula, the wife of Ohio congressman Ralph Regula, came up with the idea and while in Washington, she gained support from several first ladies.

The site was opened in 2000 and has two main buildings: the Ida Saxton McKinley Historic Home, which was home to Canton’s own First Lady, Ida Saxton McKinley, and the Education and Research Center, which houses the museum and current exhibits.

Things To Do In The Park

  • Guided Tours

Visitors can learn about Ida Saxton’s life before she became First Lady by taking guided tours of her historic home to understand and appreciate the challenging and public position of America’s first ladies.

  • Visit the Education Center

Learn more about the first ladies’ contributions to the current social-political landscape of the United States, see exhibits and watch a short film.

How To Get To The Park

The site is in the downtown area of Canton, Ohio. By car, take I-77 to the Downtown/Tuscarawas Exit.

5- Hopewell Culture National Historical Park

national parks in ohio hopewell mounds
A combination of nature and anthropology, Hopewell Culture National Historical Park is one of the national parks in Ohio to tick off your to-visit list.

This historical park preserves the remnants of a Native American community that flourished from around 200 BC to AD 500.

This 1,170-acre (473 ha) park contains six different sites and archaeological sites from the Hopewell culture.

The indigenous people built earthen enclosures and mounds at these sites into complex shapes and patterns.

These earthwork complexes shed light on the sophisticated and complex social, ceremonial, political and cultural lives of the Hopewell people.

The region was first designated as the Mound City Group in 1923, but it was expanded and renamed the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park in 1992 to include other earthworks.

Much of the significance has been lost, but the site remains rich in historical, cultural, religious, and even scientific monuments.

Things To Do In The Park

  • Guided Tour Of The Mounds

While self-guided tours are enjoyable, guided tours allow guests to get the most out of their visit as the rangers will explain the significance of the earthen monuments and answer questions.

  • Explore the Earthworks

Stroll through the Hopeton and Seip Earthworks sites and reflect on their cultural significance.

These majestic mounds built thousands of years ago by the Hopewell culture are indeed a sight to behold.

How To Get To The Park

Take U.S. Highway 23. Turn right off U.S. Highway 23 at State Route 207. Continue on S.R. 207 for another two miles (3.2 km) until it merges with S.R. 104. (Make no turns; continue straight on the road as it turns into S.R. 104.) Continue on S.R. 104 and turn left into the park (approximately 1.8 miles (3 km) past the S.R. 104 & S.R. 207 intersection).

6- James A. Garfield National Historic Site

James A. Garfield is a 4.9-acre (2 ha) site that preserves the property associated with James Abram Garfield, the USA’s 20th president.

The property now includes the elegant home of James Abram Garfield, a visitor centre and various outbuildings, including the first presidential library in the United States.

The president’s large family necessitated the building of the house in 1876.

Visitors are greeted by a large porch, which the president originally used to meet visitors during his campaign.

Inside the house, you will find original antique Victorian furniture and several other exhibits.

Things To Do In The Park

Take a guided tour of the beautifully restored Victorian-era home of President and Mrs James A. Garfield, led by rangers or volunteers.

Watch a short biographical film about James A. Garfield and explore the museum exhibits that look into his life.

How To Get To The Park

Exit I-90 or Route 2 at Route 306 and head north to Route 20. It’s on the north side of Mentor Avenue, about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) east of Route 20.

7- Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial

The memorial is in the village of Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island.

This 25-acre (10 ha) memorial was established to commemorate those who fought in the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812 – a battle in which Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry led his outnumbered fleet to victory against the British Navy.

Perry’s memorial also serves as a reminder of the long-lasting peace that followed the war between the UK, USA and Canada.

This memorial features a 352 ft (107 m) Doric column with an observation deck where you can view the surrounding landscape, and it’s only five miles (8 km) from the US-Canadian border.

Things To Do In The Park

  • Explore the Visitor Center

The visitor centre houses several artifacts and exhibitions related to the War of 1812 and a 15-minute film depicts the history of the battle.

  • Visit The Observation Deck

The observation deck is the most prominent feature of the Lake Erie Islands and the tallest open-air observation platform in the National Park Service.

  • Black Powder Demonstrations

Every weekend, rangers demonstrate the firing of reproduction flintlock muskets to help visitors better understand the war.

Given the advancements in firearms since that time, you will find the demonstrations both educational and entertaining.

How To Get To The Park

The island can be reached by ferry, plane, airboat or private boat. The most common ways used by visitors to reach the island are via the Jet Express or Miller Boat Line ferries.

8- William Howard Taft National Historic Site

national parks ohio William Howard Taft National Historic Site
Many of Ohio’s national parks sites are a window into the past. Pictured here is William Howard Taft National Historic Site.

This three-acre (1.2 ha) National Historic Site preserves the birthplace and childhood home of William Howard Taft, who served as the USA’s 27th President and the country’s 10th Chief Justice.

He was the only person who had held positions in both offices.

The site’s main attraction is the house where William Howard Taft was born and raised.

Built between 1844 and 1847, the house has been restored to its original state to reflect William’s time there.

William Howard Taft was well-known for his hard work ethic, dedication to civic responsibility and enthusiasm for education.

The National Historic Site was established in 1969 to give visitors a glimpse into the environment that influenced his character and ideology.

Things To Do In The Park

list of national parks in ohio
1937 postage stamp featuring President William Howard Taft.
  • Guided Tours

Take a ranger-led tour of William Howard Taft’s birthplace and home.

The house was built in the Greek Revival architectural style and houses all of the Taft family portraits and books.

  • Visit the Education Center

The Taft Education Center is the park’s only visitor centre and offers many options for visitors to begin their journey.

This facility houses offices, a National Park gift shop, an audio-animatronic exhibit of William’s son Charles Phelps Taft II, and a short biographical film about William Howard Taft.

How To Get To The Park

The site is a mile (1.6 km) north of downtown Cincinnati. Take Exit 2 off I-71 north (Reading Road and Eden Park Drive). Stay in the right lane and turn left onto Dorchester Avenue at the first stoplight. Continue to the top of the hill. Turn right onto Auburn Avenue and travel 1.5 blocks to the site. The park is located on the right. Take Exit 3 off I-75. (Taft Road). Continue west on Taft Road. Go 0.75 mile (1.2 km) to Auburn Avenue. To get to the site, turn left and travel 0.5 miles (0.8 km). The park is on the left.