The Suburban Park: Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Between Cleveland and Akron, OH lies one of the newest National Parks in the US, the Cuyahoga Valley National Park (est. 2000). We meandered through it on our way south after leaving Cleveland.
Honestly, the vibe is a bit odd. I grew up just outside Milwaukee, near the Menomonee River Parkway. A lot of this park feels like a nice, suburban parkway. Sure, it’s a bit bigger. There are a few historic sites. But there are also golf courses and graveyards and bike paths and … a superfund site. Not what you’d expect. Houses line the streets inside the park. There are new housing developments happening seemingly within the park boundaries. It’s odd. But there are waterfalls.
So while we like Cleveland and would encourage anybody curious to see the town to visit, we can’t really recommend you go too far out of your way to visit Cuyahoga Valley National Park. It’s nice, but it’s not worth a dedicated trip.
The history of the place is a little odd too. Wikipedia makes it sound pretty rosy, but signs in the park mention that the valley was slated to be flooded as a result of a large-scale dam project. Opposition forces studied the area and lauded its cultural and environmental diversity and importance. Public opinion turned. The dam project was scrapped. The government, which was buying up land to cover with water, now had a bunch of land that was culturally and environmentally important. What to do? Make it a park!*
*This commentary on the situation should not be confused with actual research into the history of the area.