There’s something special about a place that is open to the public and kept in its natural state. National parks in Ohio are no different. They offer visitors a chance to experience unspoiled beauty and learn about individual states and our country’s history.
If you’re looking for an amazing national park to visit, consider Ohio. With so many different sites to choose from, there is something for everyone.
What Is the Only National Park in Ohio?
While there is only one national park in Ohio — Cuyahoga Valley National Park — there are many other National Park Service (NPS) units to explore. These include a national monument, national historical parks and sites, and a national memorial.
Traveler’s Tip: These six national parks in the southeastern U.S. will surprise you.
What Are the 8 National Parks in Ohio?
National sites in Ohio are plentiful and diverse, from the shores of Lake Erie to the Appalachian foothills. Whether hiking through Cuyahoga Valley National Park or experiencing a tour into the past of one of America’s presidents, nature and history are abundant throughout Ohio’s national park designations.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a popular destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. The park, which is just 30 minutes south of Cleveland, serves as a plant and wildlife refuge. The Cuyahoga River runs through the park, and you can explore the forested lands and farmlands.
The Beaver Marsh along the boardwalk is a popular spot for birdwatching and simply breathing in the fresh air away from the city. While there is no camping here, there are two inns on-site and several nearby campgrounds.
Visitors can hike or bike along the trails or choose to ride the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. Overnight or day trip, this is an easy getaway to a national park.
Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument
Charles Young was a Buffalo Soldier, an African-American soldier who served on the Western frontier following the American Civil War in the United States Army. Born a slave, Young escaped to freedom and rose through the army’s ranks to become the first African-American Colonel. Young was also a civil rights pioneer, and in 2013, President Obama named the house Young had purchased a national monument.
The Charles Young Buffalo Soldier National Monument is in Wilberforce, Ohio, a 35-minute drive southeast of Dayton. Take a guided tour and visit the Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center because this is where history comes to life.
Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park
Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park is a great place to learn about aviation history. The park consists of five sites that tell the stories of Wilbur Wright, Orville Wright, and Paul Laurence Dunbar.
You can experience the Wright brothers’ printing office and an original Wright brothers’ bicycle shop. Here, you can also see the Wright brothers’ third airplane and follow in their footsteps at the Huffman Prairie Flying Field.
Dayton is a great city to visit if you’re interested in learning about aviation history and experiencing the lives of the people who started it all.
First Ladies National Historic Site
First Ladies National Historic Site consists of two properties in downtown Canton, Ohio — the home of First Lady Ida Saxton-McKinley and the education center. The First Ladies National Historic Site tells the story of the First Ladies of the United States, how they helped shape our country, and their role in society through public service and political activism.
Guided tours of Ida and William McKinley’s former home, the Saxton House, are available year-round. The Saxton House became the home of the National First Ladies Library in 1998. Today, you can tour the museum, where you can experience rotating exhibits highlighting the many roles of the First Lady.
Hopewell Culture National Historical Park
This is an Ohio national park where you can hike through history. The park includes sacred spaces, mounds, and enclosures built 2000 years ago and used by different Native American groups for many ceremonial purposes.
The Hopewell culture was a network of economic, political, and spiritual practices among different Native American groups. Located in south-central Ohio at the foot of the Appalachians, you can hike through Hopeton Earthworks, Seip Earthworks, or the Mound City Group in this national park in Ohio.
James A. Garfield National Historic Site
James A. Garfield might not be one of the most well-known presidents, but his historic home is definitely worth a visit. The James A. Garfield National Historic Site is in Mentor, Ohio, just east of Cleveland along the shores of Lake Erie. This historic home was built in the 1800s and is a great way to learn about history and how community is important to building relationships.
President Garfield hosted many people on the porch while campaigning for the presidency, and this porch is now a gateway to history. The NPS offers tours of the house where visitors can learn about the life and times of James A. Garfield. If you’re looking for a fun and educational activity, be sure to check out this Ohio national park.
Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial
National parks in Ohio are special places where everyone can explore and learn about the natural and historical world. The Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial, located in Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island, is one such place.
It was created in memory of and to honor those who fought in the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812. The memorial is a Doric column that rises 352 feet. Visitors can climb the first few steps and then take an elevator to the top to gaze out onto panoramic views of Lake Erie and the surrounding Great Lakes and their shores.
The Perry’s Victory Visitor Center offers art, exhibits, and artifacts from the Battle of Lake Erie. But the history doesn’t stop there. On weekends, you can also experience a reenactment of flintlock muskets in action. History and nature coexist here, as they should be when visiting a peace memorial.
William Howard Taft National Historic Site
The William Howard Taft National Historic Site is on a prominent hill overlooking Cincinnati. The two-story Greek Revival house where William Howard Taft was born and grew up is the site’s centerpiece. A guided tour takes guests through the house, decorated in Victorian-era furnishings that will take you back in time.
Start your history lesson at the Taft Education Center, where you can watch a film and browse through presidential-themed books. This Ohio national park is a great place to learn about one of America’s many presidents.
Don’t Forget Ohio’s State Parks
Along with Ohio’s national parks and several NPS units, Ohio has many state parks and units for you to enjoy. In fact, Ohio has 134 state-managed areas.
These include state parks, state forests, memorials, nature preserves, and wildlife areas. Out of those 134 areas, 77 of them are state parks, where, along with Ohio’s national park service units, you can enjoy all that Ohio has to offer in its beautiful outdoors.
When Is the Best Time of Year to Visit Ohio?
April through October are the best times to visit Ohio. Although the humidity can be quite high during the height of the summer months during July and August, the temps generally stay in the mid-80s with lows in the 60s.
And while May can be one of Ohio’s rainiest months, spring is still a great time to visit. The flowers are in bloom, and the weather is starting to warm up.
Fall is also a great time to visit Ohio state and national parks. The leaves are changing color, and the weather is cool and crisp.
Knowing all of this, summer is a great time to visit. Still, if you can handle the crisp fall days, it’s time to visit Ohio in September and early October when humidity is low, and temps hover around 70 degrees.
Add Ohio’s National Park to Your Bucket List
Whether you’re visiting one of the many state parks or one of the designated national park units, the Buckeye State has a lot to offer all year round. From spending a night at Cuyahoga Valley National Park to learning about Charles Young, the Buffalo Soldier, you’ll leave Ohio with historical knowledge and natural wonders.
Where will you visit first?