Park Number: 36/59
First Visited: December 30, 2012
The Cuyahoga Valley is an elongated strip of federal property, located amidst the urban centers of Cleveland and Akron, that offers Midwesterners alternating experiences of native plants, protected wildlife, a history of canal culture, and myriad recreational opportunities. I’ve only been to this park during the height of winter, which greatly reduced accessibility to a lot of these opportunities, but I still came to understand the inherent tranquility of the place: the meandering river pockmarked with locks and surrounding waterfalls; the charm of preserved farmsteads and railway yesterdays; biking paths and ski trails. That said, I’m not sure this property necessarily needed the upgrade from a national recreation area (designated in 1974) to a full national park (designated in 2000). The place pales in comparison to other more famous parks, seeming almost gimmicky at times with its excess infrastructure and tourist accommodations (such is a result of Eastern parks enduring higher populations earlier in American history and before accumulating protective regulations). I’d like to make a few trips back to this area, during varied seasons, to get a more holistic understanding of its quality.