Tagged with "visitor center"
20 Jul
2017
Posted in: travel
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Cuyahoga Valley: An Urban Park

I had predisposed ideas about Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio. I knew it was large with an extensive trail system, waterfalls and a covered bridge. What we found was the most urban national park we’ve visited.

Teen looking at a replica of a canal boat

The park, our first major stop on our epic road trip, is not far from both Akron and Cleveland. It’s a refuge for animals and people alike in the bustling urban sprawl. We visited on a weekend, and the park was busy. The crowd was both tourist and locals escaping into the outdoors for a few hours. We chose to hike part of the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail which currently runs 81 miles from Cleveland to Bolivar but will eventually be 110 miles long. Over 19 miles of the trail are on national park land. Mules used to pull boats carrying goods in the canal in the 1800s. There are still remnants of the canal’s history, like locks, throughout the trail.

visitors to Cuyahoga Valley completeing a quest

Part of the junior ranger program our kids did while at Cuyahoga Valley was a guest that used rhyming clues to guide us around the Towpath near the Boston Store Visitor Center. It was similar to geocaching and was a fun means to learn about the history of the area. The park boasts 40 questing opportunities for visitors. There are no GPS coordinates like geocaching, just rhyming directions to follow. Visitors collect stamps from boxes at the end of each quest and sign a logbook. If we were local to the area, questing would be a favorite activity for us. It would be wonderful for other national and state parks to do similar programs helping to educate visitors about the history of an area in an engaging and fun manner.

a canal lock in Cuyahoga Valley

The canal lock covered in moss we found as part of our junior ranger quest made for an interesting discussion about transportation in the area in the past. Our kids were enamored by the many turtles sunning themselves and the croaking frogs. Our 7th grader would have spent our entire three-week vacation near that little pond watching and tracking the animals.

frog half hidden in the water

turtle sunnying itself

Cuyahoga Valley is home to several waterfalls. We ventured to Blue Hen Falls, a short 1/2 mile hike. The hike is fairly easy through a forest to see Spring Creek fall 15-feet over a sandstone top layer to shale below. The trail was busy but not crowded and had a ranger manning the overflow parking lot helping to direct traffic.

Blue Hen Falls in Cuyahoga Valley

hikers on the ledges Trail in Cuyahoga Valley

Ledges Trail is over two-miles total and has some neat geological features which were different from other areas we visited in the park. Rock ledges jutting out of the forest floor seem to come from nowhere while hiking part of the trail. The area begs visitors to scamper down the edges and explore what’s below. The Ledges Overlook offers a view from a rock ledge over the tree-covered valley. While the view is lovely, it wasn’t spectacular for us. It’s difficult to please people who have seen views from Rocky Mountain peaks.

everett covered bridge in ohio

inside everett covered bridge

Our drive through the park took us into several small townships which were full of character. The highlight for our visit, for me, was Everett Covered Bridge. Ohio was once home to over 2,000 covered bridges, but Summit County only has Everett remaining. The bridge, which crosses Furnace Run, is believed to have been built in the late 1800s. It was repaired in 1913 and then rebuilt in the 1970s. The white interior and red exterior of the bridge contrast with the lush green of the surrounding forest. Covered bridges are a symbol of bygone times and something not seen in Wyoming.

Next stop on our road trip: major bucket list destination, Niagara Falls


 
Take a Trip: Discovering History
By     |    Dec 28, 2016
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Take a Trip: Discovering History

We’re only a few weeks into winter in Wyoming, and I’m over it. The mounds of snow followed by hurricane-strength winds, seriously 70+ miles per hour, wears me down and makes me irritable. I’m finishing 2016 with a few posts looking back on our summer adventures while I begin planning our 2017 vacations. For me, gifting our children with experiences is the most ideal way to teach them. We travel a lot by car because it allows us to see... [Read More]

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Travel Wyoming, Collect Free Stickers
By     |    Jun 14, 2016
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Travel Wyoming, Collect Free Stickers

I had a sweet sticker book when I was in elementary school. I collected stickers and carefully placed them in the book, sort of like a sports card collection, but with smelly and puffy stickers. Three summers ago, when we realized the Wyoming Office of Tourism had a free souvenir sticker program available to travelers, I knew we’d have to collect them all. The stickers have a vintage look with muted earth-tone colors and artwork themed for an area in... [Read More]

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Take a Trip: Grand Canyon National Park
By     |    Apr 18, 2016
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Take a Trip: Grand Canyon National Park

This year is the 100th birthday of the National Park Service. There are over 400 entities run by the NPS. I’ll share tips from different National Park Service sites we’ve visited throughout 2016. We spent years talking about visiting Grand Canyon National Park. We couldn’t ever peg down a good time of year to visit. There were other national parks ranked higher on our wish list. Excuses piled for why we never chose the iconic American spot. This year was the... [Read More]

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Take a Trip: Rocky Mountain National Park
By     |    Mar 14, 2016
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Take a Trip: Rocky Mountain National Park

This year is the 100th birthday of the National Park Service. There are over 400 entities run by the NPS. I’ll share tips from different National Park Service sites we’ve visited throughout 2016. My husband and I spent 44 hours this weekend without children enjoying the tail-end of winter in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. The start of 2016 has been rough, and we needed to regroup. Snowshoeing in the park was the most peaceful I’ve felt in months.... [Read More]

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Take a Trip: Devils Tower National Monument
By     |    Mar 11, 2016
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Take a Trip: Devils Tower National Monument

This year is the 100th birthday of the National Park Service. There are over 400 entities run by the NPS. I’ll share tips from different National Park Service sites we’ve visited throughout 2016. Devils Tower National Monument, the first designated national monument in the United States, is located in northeast Wyoming. It’s a geological beacon sprouting from the prairie of the Cowboy state. There are nothing but rolling hills on all sides of the 867-foot tower which overlooks the Bell Fourche... [Read More]

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Take a Trip: Capitol Reef National Park
By     |    Jan 18, 2016
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Take a Trip: Capitol Reef National Park

This year is the 100th birthday of the National Park Service. There are over 400 entities run by the NPS. I’ll share tips from different National Park Service sites we’ve visited throughout 2016. Capitol Reef National Park is located in a remote area of Utah. We visited several years ago (March 2011) over spring break and essentially had the park to ourselves with only a handful of other visitors to share the over 240,000 acres. I’m a sucker for rocky... [Read More]

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Tips for Visiting Kennedy Space Center
By     |    Nov 19, 2015
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Tips for Visiting Kennedy Space Center

I recently finished reading “The Martian” by Andy Weir. I was skeptical I would enjoy a book heavy on science, space science at that, but I devoured it. The main character is compelling and funny, even in dire circumstances. There were science and math sections that didn’t hold my attention, but nothing that kept me from needing to continue with the story. I had to finish it. I was invested in Mark Watney. Those last 50 pages had me simultaneously... [Read More]

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One Thing that Changed Our Travels
By     |    Aug 25, 2015
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One Thing that Changed Our Travels

I remember five years ago standing in a visitor center making the decision to purchase a book titled, Passport To Your National Parks. I thought the book would be a nice way to remember places we visited but had no idea how much it would change the way our family travels. It was meant to be a souvenir but changed the way we travel. The passport is a blue, small, spiral book where tourists can collect stamps from visits to... [Read More]

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Hoodoos of Bryce Canyon National Park
By     |    Aug 22, 2015
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Hoodoos of Bryce Canyon National Park

Stand at any number of overlooks in Bryce Canyon National Park gazing at the colorful landscape of hoodoos and you’ll understand the definition of breathtaking. The shades of red, orange, white and gray layered on each other seem unreal. We stood at Sunset Point watching shadows shift and change among the hoodoos as the sun neared the horizon and knew we had to be down in the canyon. Our first hike in the park was down the switchbacks of Wall Street. You... [Read More]

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Loneliest Road Leads to Great Basin National Park
By     |    Aug 20, 2015
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Loneliest Road Leads to Great Basin National Park

There were no other travelers on the “The Loneliest Road in America,” US-50 in Nevada. We drove miles and miles without seeing other vehicles. There were no dilapidated buildings hinting at past habitation. It was just us on an adventure to Great Basin National Park with rolling hills and sagebrush as our companions. I’ve lived in Wyoming for almost four decades. I’m a sucker for the open road. I like roads rural with few people and quaint Norman Rockwell towns... [Read More]

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Arkansas: Hot Springs National Park
By     |    Jun 26, 2015
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Arkansas: Hot Springs National Park

Honestly, I didn’t have high expectations for Hot Springs National Park located in Hot Springs, Arkansas. I thought the kids wouldn’t find the bathhouses interesting enough and that the water you can collect wouldn’t taste good enough to warrant bringing home with us. Wrong and wrong. Wisely-named Hot Springs National Park revolves around the local hot springs, which have a history of people flocking to the area for therapeutic purposes. Bathhouse Row sprang up in the 1800s as wood and... [Read More]

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