Coming from our first leg of red rocks and canyons of National Parks in the Southwest, I don’t think we could pull much more of a 180 than next visiting Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
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First, Cuyahoga Valley is one of very few urban National Parks (I believe the only other is Hot Springs). It is nestled between the cities of Cleveland and Akron. Freeways cross overhead, family farms dot the park and streets run in and out the many entrances to the point where many times we didn’t realize we had left the park. You definitely remember that, unlike out west, Starbucks is only a few minutes away (and we took advantage of this to step out for a classroom skype session and our latest interview for the Cleveland newspaper ;)).
Second, there are trees! And colors! I think we may have missed peak fall colors by a week or so, but even still the trees were gorgeous. The whole park really embraces the fall season. All the parks we came from were unwinding from the peak summer season and slowing down their ranger programs. However, we were pleasantly surprised to see a full schedule of events at Cuyahoga Valley. And we took advantage of as much as we could (but more about that in Elizabeth’s Friday post)!
And last, but not least, there were locals. Lines of RVs and map-wielding tourists were replaced by regular visitors and evening joggers from the surrounding area.
Honestly, Cuyahoga Valley was one of the parks we didn’t have huge expectations for, but so far those have all ended up being our favorites. It may have helped that fall in the valley reminded us so much of home in Missouri.