Cuyahoga Valley National Park – Guide, Camping, and Best Tips

Petr Novák

While Cuyahoga Valley National Park may not be the most renowned or the largest in the USA, it still attracts more than 2 million visitors each year. This is primarily due to the park’s location—it is nestled in the Cuyahoga River Valley in the State of Ohio, flanked by the cities of Cleveland and Akron.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park in winter | © Joanne

Table of Contents
  1. Information About Cuyahoga Valley National Park
  2. What to See and Do in Cuyahoga Valley National Park
  3. When to Visit Cuyahoga Valley National Park
  4. Cuyahoga Valley National Park Entrance Fees
  5. How to Get to Cuyahoga Valley National Park
  6. Lodging in Cuyahoga Valley National Park
  7. Tips and Recommendations Before Traveling to Cuyahoga Valley National Park
  8. Photos of Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Information About Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Cuyahoga Valley was only designated a National Park on October 11, 2000, making it one of the youngest of its kind. It has an unconventional history for a national park, as part of the valley was once a landfill riddled with toxic substances. The clean-up operation for the area spanned from 1987 until the middle of 2011, aided by financial contributions from companies such as Ford, 3M, GM, and Chrysler, which were identified as the primary polluters.

The extensive cleanup restored the park to its original state. Today, the park is primarily comprised of wetlands, forests, fields, and waterfalls. The name Cuyahoga Valley translates to “crooked river” in the Mohawk language. The total area of Cuyahoga Valley National Park is only 51 mi2.

Regarding fauna, the park is home to smaller creatures. Alert observers might spot a raccoon, bald eagle, beaver, coyote, bat, or great egret. Approximately 80% of the park’s vegetation is a mixed forest of oaks, maples, birches, spruces, and pines. In addition to trees, Cuyahoga Valley harbors 90 species of grasses and flowers.

What to See and Do in Cuyahoga Valley National Park

If you enjoy hiking, or even just leisurely walking, you will find plenty to appreciate in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. While the shortest trail can be completed in just 15 minutes, you can spend up to 10 hours trekking the longest one. In winter, cross-country skiing is available. Below are some recommended trails—you can download the maps for them here:

  • The Ledges Trail: Though only 607 ft long and entirely flat, it’s perfect for a warm-up and offers the most magnificent views of the entire park.
  • Brandywine Falls: This 1.55 mi trail culminates with views of the falls. It is at its most beautiful in the fall, when it is blanketed in fallen leaves.
  • Accessible Overlook: An observation deck located next to the parking lot.
  • Blue Hen Falls: An 2,625 ft loop with smaller waterfalls.
  • Bridal Veil Falls: Slightly larger falls best visited after heavy rainfall.

Another unique way to explore the national park is by train. The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad has stops at Rockside, Peninsula, and Akron stations. Check the linked website for the current schedule and fares. If you are a train enthusiast, this attraction should not be missed.

When to Visit Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is open year-round, but certain areas of the park, such as Brandywine Falls and Kendall Lake, close overnight.

Cuyahoga Valley is one of those parks that can be recommended for a visit at almost any time of the year. As one might expect, most visitors come during the weekends from spring through fall, and in the summer, you may encounter crowds on the Towpath Trail. In the winter, a blanket of snow covers the park; if you have some cross-country or downhill skis, you can enjoy a pretty unique experience.

Average Temperatures and Visitor Numbers in Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Average temperatures in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Visitor numbers are based on a 2017-2021 average. The data source is the National Park Service.

Max Temp Min Temp Precipitation Days Visitors Popularity
January 34°F 23.00°F 6.1 88 225 🟩
February 37°F 23.00°F 5.8 86 848 🟩
March 46°F 32°F 8.3 125 790 🟨🟨
April 59°F 43°F 9.7 179 977 🟨🟨
May 70°F 52°F 10.9 242 407 🟧🟧🟧
June 79°F 61°F 11.1 274 795 🟧🟧🟧
July 82°F 66°F 10.7 300 470 🟧🟧🟧
August 81°F 64°F 9.7 294 167 🟧🟧🟧
September 73°F 57°F 9.1 235 471 🟧🟧🟧
October 61°F 46°F 8.7 222 478 🟨🟨
November 50°F 37°F 7.9 149 489 🟨🟨
December 39°F 28°F 7.5 111 803 🟩

Cuyahoga Valley National Park Entrance Fees

Admission to Cuyahoga Valley National Park is free.
However, if you plan to visit other national parks during your visit to the USA, read about the excellent value America the Beautiful. Pay $80, and you can visit America’s National Parks as often as you like over the course of 365 days.

How to Get to Cuyahoga Valley National Park

The most convenient way to get there is by rental car, which offers complete freedom and flexibility. For your reference, I’ve included distances, driving times, and routes from major cities in the area:

From / To Distance Driving Time Map
Cleveland 19.88 mi 30 minutes View Route
Detroit 173 mi 2 hours 45 minutes View Route
Chicago 349 mi 5 hours 30 minutes View Route
New York 441 mi 7 hours 15 minutes View Route
Toronto 301 mi 5 hours 30 minutes View Route

Lodging in Cuyahoga Valley National Park

🏨 Hotels

Numerous hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, and other accommodations are available in the cities of Cleveland and Akron, which border Cuyahoga Valley Park:

⛺ Campsites

There are no campgrounds within Cuyahoga Valley, unlike in other national parks.

Tips and Recommendations Before Traveling to Cuyahoga Valley National Park

ℹ️ Visitor Center

Starting your tour of Cuyahoga Valley National Park at the Boston Store Visitor Center is highly recommended. It is located in Peninsula, right off the exit from Highway 271. The center is open daily from morning until afternoon, and staff are available to answer your questions and assist with souvenir purchases from the park.

👍 Good to Know

A single day, or even just an afternoon, is typically sufficient to visit Cuyahoga Valley. In comparison to Yellowstone or Yosemite, it’s a smaller park with fewer noteworthy vistas.

Photos of Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Cuyahoga Valley National Park | © Betsy Weber
Cuyahoga Valley NP | © Betsy Weber
Cuyahoga Valley National Park | © Betsy Weber
Brandywine Falls in Cuyahoga Valley National Park | © Doug Kerr
Brandywine Falls in Cuyahoga Valley National Park | © Doug Kerr
Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad | © Joanne
Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad | © Joanne

US National Parks

  1. List of US National Parks
  2. America the Beautiful Annual Pass
  3. Timed-Entry Reservation for US National Parks

Travel Guides to USA National Parks

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