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postcard from cuyahoga valley national park

last month, my sister, brother and i drove across the country on a road trip that would take us (back) to our new home in colorado (again). the thing about driving across the United States, however, is that it’s really really really big, and often really really really flat and boring.

This was the case for much of our road trip – we drove from Pennsylvania to Ohio to Indiana to Illinois to Iowa to Nebraska to Colorado – so we stopped at a few places along the way to spice things up across the Midwest.

Out first stop: Cuyahoga Valley National Park, which is located pretty close to Akron, Ohio.

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Admittedly, I don’t think I even knew CVNP existed until sometime in the last year, and most people that I told about this trip hadn’t heard of it either. Even when we were there, it felt quiet, uncrowded, and a little under-the-radar, but the National Park Service website says otherwise – it’s the 11th most visited national park (out of 54), and more than 2 million people visit it every year!!!

(For some comparison… the most visited is Great Smoky Mountains NP in North Carolina/Tennessee with 10,712,674 visits in 2015, and the least visited is Gates of the Arctic NP in Alaska with only 10,745 visits in 2015.)

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Brandywine Falls, a 65-foot high falls, is the second highest falls in Ohio and one of the most popular attractions in the park (according to the NPS). We had a break from the rainy weather for a few hours, so we stopped by the falls, snapped some pics, and then did a quick little hike around the top and through the forest nearby on the Brandywine Gorge Trail!

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This was the first day of our road trip, and after 7 hours of driving, this was the perfect mid-day pitstop. Amy and I drove through Ohio to get to Kentucky for our Elizabethtown pilgrimage in May this year, but none of us had really explored it before. Though I’m not sure I’d have made a special trip to Cuyahoga Valley National Park for itself alone, it was a nice way to break up the drive and to see some of the natural beauty of the Buckeye State.

What’s your favorite under-the-radar national park? 

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