National Parks in Ohio

Welcome to the treasure trove of natural beauty and historical significance of Ohio’s national parks. From the lush landscapes of Cuyahoga Valley National Park to the inspiring stories of pioneers and presidents, Ohio offers a rich tapestry of experiences for explorers and history buffs alike. Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventures or a deep dive into America’s past, our guide to Ohio’s national parks and historic sites will lead you on a journey through the heart of the Buckeye State.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Cuyahoga Valley National Park, nestled between the bustling cities of Cleveland and Akron in Ohio, offers a refreshing retreat into nature’s embrace. This national park, unique for its rich blend of natural beauty and cultural history, spans over 33,000 acres of land, featuring lush forests, rolling hills, and the scenic Cuyahoga River winding its way through the valley. What sets Cuyahoga Valley apart is its accessibility and the diversity of experiences it offers. From the stunning Brandywine Falls, a 65-foot waterfall that showcases the power of nature, to the historic Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail, where visitors can walk or bike along the path once traversed by mules pulling canal boats, the park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

The park’s beauty is not just in its landscapes but also in its efforts to preserve the area’s cultural heritage, including restored historic buildings and the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, which offers a unique perspective on the valley’s natural beauty. Whether you’re hiking the Ledges Trail to witness breathtaking views from the rocky cliffs, kayaking on the Cuyahoga River, or exploring the rich biodiversity of the area’s wetlands, Cuyahoga Valley National Park offers a serene yet invigorating escape, making it a remarkable and cherished natural resource in Ohio.

Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument

The Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument is a powerful testament to the resilience and valor of African American soldiers in the United States Army. Located in Wilberforce, Ohio, this monument honors Colonel Charles Young, the third African American to graduate from West Point and the highest-ranking black officer in the U.S. Army until his death in 1922. What makes this site truly remarkable is its dedication to preserving the legacy of the Buffalo Soldiers, the all-black regiments established after the Civil War, and their significant contributions to American military history.

Colonel Young’s former home, now the monument’s centerpiece, serves as a museum and educational center that offers visitors a deep dive into the challenges and triumphs of the Buffalo Soldiers and Young’s extraordinary life and career. The site highlights Young’s leadership roles in the national parks, his diplomatic missions, and his unwavering commitment to equality and justice. The monument is not just a historical site but a beacon of courage, leadership, and perseverance, reflecting the broader story of African American struggle and achievement in the face of systemic racism. It stands as a tribute to those who fought not only for their country but for their rightful place within it, making the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument a source of inspiration and a cornerstone of American heritage.

Address: 1120 US-42, Wilberforce, OH 45384

Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park

Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, located in Dayton, Ohio, is a unique celebration of the pioneering spirit of American aviation. This park offers an in-depth look into the lives and legacies of Wilbur and Orville Wright, the brothers who achieved the first successful powered flight, and Paul Laurence Dunbar, a renowned African American poet and close friend of the Wrights, who shared their spirit of innovation. What makes this park stand out is its comprehensive approach to storytelling, intertwining the narratives of technological advancement and creative expression.

Spread across several sites in Dayton. The park includes the Wright Cycle Company complex, where the Wright brothers conducted much of their early aviation research, Huffman Prairie Flying Field, where they perfected their flying skills, and the Paul Laurence Dunbar House, which celebrates his literary contributions and friendship with the Wrights. Visitors can immerse themselves in interactive exhibits, restored historical buildings, and educational programs that highlight the determination, ingenuity, and collaboration that propelled humanity into the era of flight. Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park is not just a monument to past achievements but a source of inspiration, showcasing how perseverance, creativity, and teamwork can overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Address: 16 S Williams St. Dayton, OH 45402

First Ladies National Historic Site

The First Ladies National Historic Site, located in Canton, Ohio, offers a unique and profound insight into the lives and legacies of the women who have shaped the role of the First Lady in the United States. This site stands out for its dedication to telling the stories of these influential women, highlighting their contributions, challenges, and impacts on American history and culture. The centerpiece of the site is the Ida Saxton McKinley Historic Home, the residence of Ida Saxton McKinley, wife of the 25th President, William McKinley, which has been meticulously restored to reflect its historical significance.

What makes the First Ladies National Historical Site remarkable is not just its focus on the personal histories and achievements of these women but also its exploration of the evolving role of the First Lady and its influence on social, political, and cultural issues. Through engaging exhibits and educational programs, the site delves into the complexities of public and private life in the White House, the societal expectations placed on First Ladies, and their various roles as hostesses, campaigners, activists, and advisors. By celebrating these often-unsung heroes of American history, the First Ladies National Historic Site provides a comprehensive and inspiring view of their contributions to the nation and the world, making it an invaluable resource for understanding the full scope of American leadership and legacy.

Address: 205 Market Ave. S. Canton, OH 44702

Hopewell Culture National Historical Park

Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, located in the lush Scioto River Valley of Ohio, stands as a monumental testament to the ingenuity and spirituality of the ancient Hopewell people, who thrived in North America from 200 BCE to 500 CE. This national historical park is celebrated for its remarkable earthworks and mounds, which are among the most sophisticated and geometrically precise of their kind in the world. These structures are believed to have served as ceremonial sites, astronomical observatories, and social gathering places, highlighting the Hopewell’s advanced understanding of mathematics, astronomy, and their deep spiritual connection to the land.

What elevates Hopewell Culture National Historical Park is the awe-inspiring scale and complexity of its earthworks and its commitment to preserving and interpreting these ancient wonders. Through meticulously curated exhibits, guided tours, and educational programs, the park offers visitors a window into the lives, beliefs, and technological achievements of the Hopewell people. The park’s efforts to protect these sites from modern encroachment while providing access to education and reflection make it a vital link to understanding North America’s prehistoric past. It’s a place where visitors can connect with the continent’s indigenous heritage, marvel at human ingenuity, and gain a profound sense of the cultural and historical significance of the Hopewell culture, making the park a treasure of archaeological and cultural heritage.

Address: 9XGW+H5, Chillicothe, OH 45601

James A Garfield National Historic Site

The James A. Garfield National Historic Site, located in Mentor, Ohio, is a poignant tribute to the life and legacy of the 20th President of the United States, James A. Garfield. This site is distinguished by the Garfield home, also known as Lawnfield, which has been meticulously preserved to offer an intimate glimpse into President Garfield’s personal and political life. What makes this historic site truly exceptional is its comprehensive portrayal of Garfield’s multifaceted role as a scholar, Civil War general, congressman, and president.

Visitors to the James A. Garfield National Historic Site can explore the beautifully restored Garfield residence, which contains original furnishings and personal items belonging to the Garfield family, providing a tangible connection to the past. The site also features the first presidential library established in the United States, offering insights into Garfield’s intellectual pursuits and his significant contributions to American political thought and education reform.

Dedication to authenticity and educational enrichment makes this site valuable for understanding the complexities of 19th-century American politics and society. Through guided tours, educational programs, and special events, the James A. Garfield National Historic Site not only honors the legacy of President Garfield but also enriches our understanding of American history, making it a remarkable and inspiring destination for visitors of all ages.

Address: 8095 Mentor Ave. Mentor, OH 44060

Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail

The Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail, extending across multiple states, including a segment in Ohio, commemorates the epic journey of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark from 1804 to 1806. The trail’s passage through Ohio is significant for its role in the preparatory phase of the expedition, offering modern-day explorers a glimpse into the early stages of one of America’s greatest adventures. What sets this trail apart in Ohio is its ability to immerse visitors in the historical context of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, connecting them with the landscapes that shaped the early planning and logistical efforts critical to the mission’s success.

Though Ohio does not feature the expansive landscapes of the western segments of the trail, its importance lies in the educational opportunities it presents. Historical markers and interpretive sites along Ohio’s portion of the trail provide insights into the challenges faced by the expedition members, including their interactions with Native American tribes, the procurement of supplies, and the scientific observations that contributed to the nation’s understanding of its then-western territories.

The Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail in Ohio is a testament to the enduring spirit of discovery and exploration that defines the American experience. It offers a unique perspective on the monumental journey, emphasizing the importance of preparation and the contributions of numerous individuals and communities to the expedition’s overall success. This trail is not just a path through Ohio but a gateway to understanding a pivotal chapter in American history. It is a fascinating and educational experience for history buffs, nature lovers, and adventure seekers alike.

North Country National Scenic Trail

The North Country National Scenic Trail, stretching over 4,600 miles across eight states from North Dakota to Vermont, offers a unique slice of natural beauty and outdoor adventure in Ohio. This extensive trail system meanders through varied landscapes in Ohio, including serene forests, rolling hills, and picturesque river valleys, showcasing the state’s rich biodiversity and scenic vistas. What makes the Ohio section of the North Country Trail exceptional is its accessibility to a diversity of natural environments and historical sites, providing a comprehensive outdoor experience for hikers of all skill levels.

Ohio’s segment of the trail is a testament to the state’s commitment to conservation and outdoor recreation. It passes through several state parks, national forests, and protected areas, such as the Wayne National Forest and Cuyahoga Valley National Park, offering hikers the opportunity to explore the state’s natural heritage up close. The trail’s design and maintenance efforts focus on sustainability and minimizing human impact, ensuring its beauty is preserved for future generations.

The North Country National Scenic Trail in Ohio is not just a pathway through nature; it’s an immersive experience that connects hikers with the history, cultures, and communities it traverses. Whether it’s the challenge of long-distance hiking, the pursuit of tranquility in nature, or exploring Ohio’s historical landmarks, the trail offers something for everyone, making it a treasured resource for outdoor enthusiasts and a vital part of Ohio’s recreational landscape.

Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial

Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial, located on South Bass Island in Put-in-Bay, Ohio, is a monumental tribute to the Battle of Lake Erie victory during the War of 1812 and the long-standing peace among Britain, Canada, and the United States. What makes this memorial exceptional is its historical significance and its dedication to the themes of peace and friendship among nations. The towering Doric column, rising 352 feet above Lake Erie, offers visitors breathtaking views of the surrounding islands and waters, symbolizing the lasting peace that has endured since the war.

The memorial is a testament to Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry’s pivotal victory and leadership, which played a crucial role in the outcome of the War of 1812 and the territorial integrity of the United States. Beyond its commemorative purpose, the site serves as an educational resource, offering interpretive programs, exhibits, and events that delve into the history of the war, the peace it ushered in, and the importance of international cooperation.

Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial stands out as a beacon of unity, celebrating over two centuries of peace among nations once embroiled in conflict. It’s a place where history comes alive, offering lessons on bravery, leadership, and the enduring value of peace, making it a significant and inspiring destination for visitors worldwide.

Address: 93 Delaware Ave. Put-In-Bay, OH 43456

William Howard Taft National Historic Site

The William Howard Taft National Historic Site, located in Cincinnati, Ohio, offers a unique window into the life and legacy of the 27th President of the United States and 10th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. This site is distinguished by the birthplace and childhood home of William Howard Taft, meticulously preserved to reflect the environment that shaped a man who would hold two of the highest offices in the nation. What makes this historic site truly remarkable is its dual focus on Taft’s significant contributions to American politics and jurisprudence, as well as its exploration of his personal life and family background.

Visitors to the William Howard Taft National Historic Site can tour the Taft house, where original family furnishings and personal items offer a glimpse into the domestic life of the Taft family. The site also features an education center where exhibits and programs delve into Taft’s career achievements, including his commitment to constitutional law, his efforts in anti-trust legislation, and his role in international arbitration.

This historic site not only honors the legacy of William Howard Taft but also serves as an educational resource highlighting the complexities of American political and judicial history. Through its preservation of Taft’s childhood home and its comprehensive educational offerings, the William Howard Taft National Historic Site provides visitors with a deeper understanding of the man who served the nation in two of its most influential roles, making it a valuable and inspiring destination for those interested in the American political landscape.

Address: 2038 Auburn Ave. Cincinnati, OH 45219


Ohio’s rich tapestry of national parks and historic sites offers a diverse array of experiences, from the serene beauty of Cuyahoga Valley to the profound legacies of historical figures like William Howard Taft and the innovative spirit of the Wright brothers. These destinations celebrate the natural beauty and historical significance of Ohio and serve as gateways to understanding the state’s impact on America’s cultural and political landscape, inviting exploration and reflection for visitors of all ages.

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