There are eight national parks in Ohio, including historic sites, parks, and memorials, managed by the National Parks System. In this article, we give some information on all of them.
Visit National Parks in Ohio
Cuyahoga Valley National Park is the only park designated as a National Park in Ohio. The other locations are historic parks, historic sites, and national memorials. All eight are managed by the National Parks System.
Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historic Park and Hopewell Culture National Historical Park are both designated National Historic Parks.
Three designated National Historic Sites are First Ladies National Historic Site, James A. Garfield National Historic Site, and William Howard Taft National Historic Site.
The two locations designated as National Memorials are Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument and Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial.
Map of National Parks and Sites in Ohio
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Cuyahoga Valley National Park is very close to Cleveland and Akron, and there are many recreational activities available along the Cuyahoga River. Initially designated as a national recreation area in 1974, it later attained national park status in 2000.
This park covers an area of 33,000 acres of deep forests, hills, as well as open farmland. There is a lot of flora and fauna here, and this park seems to give a feeling of times past.
Remains of the Ohio & Erie Canal, which was an important transport canal in the 19th and early 20th centuries, offer a glimpse into the history of the area.
Things to do in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park
- Hiking – there are over 125 miles of hiking trails.
- Biking – 20 miles of the 101-mile Towpath Trail run through the park.
- Canoeing and Kayaking – bring your own equipment and undertake this activity at your own risk.
- Birding – it is possible to observe more than 200 bird species throughout the year.
- Picnicking – there are 28 picnic areas throughout the park.
- Fishing – a valid Ohio fishing license is necessary.
- Horseback Riding – there are ten bridle trails. You will need to bring your own horse.
- Canalway Questing – self-guided hikes along the Ohio & Erie Canal with rhyming clues to lead you to the next quest box!
- Golfing – there are two golf courses near the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, the park owns neither of these courses.
- Snowshoeing – available when the snow is four inches or deeper.
- Ice Fishing – available on the Cuyahoga lakes and ponds when they are frozen.
- Sledding – there are separate areas for sleds and toboggans.
- Cross-Country Skiing – there are suggested areas and trails for cross-country skiing on the website.
- Downhill Skiing – at Brandywine Ski Resort and also Boston Mills Ski Resort.
- Snow Tubing – Polar Blast Snow Tubing, next to Brandywine Ski Resort.
There are also kid-friendly activities on offer, such as the Junior Ranger Challenge, Hale Farm and Village, Canal Exploration Center, Brecksville Nature Center, and more educational and crafting programs.
A scenic train ride from the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. Enjoy seeing the Cuyahoga Valley from a train, with the chance of spotting animals such as deer, beavers, eagles, and herons in their natural habitat.
The park hosts many events, and you can see what is happening when you want to visit on their online calendar.
- Address: 6947 Riverview Road, Peninsula, OH 44264
- Phone: 440-717-3890 | Website | Facebook | Instagram
Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park
The Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park is made up of multiple sites, they are:
Hawthorn Hill-Wright Mansion
When Hawthorn Hill was completed in 1914, it became the residence of Orville, Katharine, and their father, Bishop Milton Wright. It now belongs to Dayton History and is open to the public. Tours are available, and pre-paid admission is required.
Huffman Prairie Flying Field Interpretive Center is said to be where “the Wrights really learned to fly and perfected flight.” Moreover, this flying field was originally a pasture belonging to Torrence Huffman, who allowed the brother to use it rent-free. This field was the base for their business, The Wright Company, as a testing ground and flying school.
- Address: 2380 Memorial Rd, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH 45433
- Phone: 937-425-0008 | Website | Facebook
Paul Laurence Dunbar House
This was the 1904-1906 home of poet Paul Laurence Dunbar. It is now a historic house museum owned by the state of Ohio and operated by Dayton History.
Paul Laurence Dunbar only lived to the age of 33, but in that short life, he produced twelve books of poetry, four novels four books of short stories, and wrote the lyrics to many songs. Dunbar became the first African American to support himself financially through writing.
He died from tuberculosis in 1906. Admission to this museum is free, and tours take place throughout the day. Please make reservations by phone.
- Address: 219 N. Paul Laurence Dunbar Street, Dayton, OH 45402
- Phone: 937-224-7061 | Website | Facebook
Wright Brothers Museum
The Wright Brothers Museum has more Wright artifacts on display than any other place in the world, including the 1905 Wright Flyer III, which is the only airplane designated a National Historic Landmark.
- Address: Carillon Historical Park, 1000 Carillon Blvd, Dayton, Ohio 45409
- Phone: 937-293-2841 | Website | Facebook
Wright Cycle Company
This complex consists of the Wright Cycle Company building, the Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center, and the Aviation Trail Visitor Center and Museum.
The Wright brothers ran their bicycle business at the Wright Cycle Company building from 1895 to 1897, which gave them mechanical experience as well as financial resources for their flight experiments. This building is listed as a National Historic Landmark.
The Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center is in the Hoover Block which was home to Wright & Wright, Job Printers from 1890 to 1895. The Wright brothers began this printing business when Orville was still in high school. This building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Hopewell Culture National Historical Park
The Hopewell Culture National Historical Park contains earthworks in the form of squares, circles, as well as other shapes. The Ohio River Valley was a focal point for the Hopewell Culture. This culture is characterized by enclosures made of earthen walls and mounds.
Check out our article about Indian Mounds in Ohio!
First Ladies National Historic Site
The First Ladies National Historic Site consists of two properties – the home of First Lady Ida Saxton-McKinley (The Saxton House) and the Education Center.
Begin your visit at the Education Center at Canton’s historic City National Bank. Explore the small museum of rotating exhibits and watch a film.
There are guided tours of the Saxton House where you will learn about the difficult and public position of first ladies. Tours begin at the Education Center.
NOTE: The tours do require standing for long periods and moving from room to room. The Saxton House is wheelchair and stroller accessible.
Seasonal opening times so do check the website for when you wish to visit.
James A. Garfield National Historic Site
James Garfield purchased this farm in 1876 and expanded the nine-room farmhouse to a twenty-room home. Garfield was inaugurated as president on March 4, 1881, and served until his death on September 19, 1881 – he was shot by Charles Guiteau on July 2, 1881, and lived for another 80 days. He was laid to rest at the Garfield Memorial in Lake View Cemetery, Cleveland.
The former First Lady, Lucretia Garfield, expanded the house to encompass a grand memorial library, storing all of James Garfield’s books and personal papers.
Lucretia Garfield died in 1918, and the children could not agree on what to do with the property, so they did nothing until their Uncle Joe, who had been living in the home, died in 1934, when they ultimately decided to donate the home and its contents as a museum.
Events are held at the James A. Garfield National Historic Site throughout the year. There are also Scout Programs and a Junior Ranger Program. Check out the website for up-to-date information.
William Howard Taft National Historic Site
The William Howard Taft National Historic Site preserves the birthplace of William Howard Taft, the 27th President of the United States. The house is in the Greek revival style and is famous for being the birthplace as well as the boyhood home of William Howard Taft.
Fun Fact: In 2013, the wax statue of William Howard Taft made a special appearance for a weekend, all the way from the Madame Tussauds Wax Museum in London, England.
The Taft Education Center is open every day (except January 1st, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day), from 8.30 am to 4.45 pm.
Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument
Brigadier General Charles Young overcame immense inequality to become a leading figure after the Civil War. His achievements in the face of racism and oppression were great, and his distinguished career as a commissioned officer in the US Army made him a role model for new leaders.
In 1903, Captain Charles Young led a company of Buffalo Soldiers in Sequoia and General Grant National Parks. The troops completed more infrastructure improvements than those from the previous three years. They completed the road to the Giant Forest and a road to the base of Moro Rock. The Buffalo Soldier regiments went on to serve the US Army with honor and distinction for the next nine decades.
The guided house tours are no longer available due to an extensive renovation project. All visitor services are now operating out of the Bishop Reverdy C. Ranson Memorial Library on the Payne Theological Seminary campus.
- Address: 1256 Wilberforce-Clifton Road, Wilberforce, OH 45384
- Phone: 937-352-6757 | Website | Facebook
Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial
This memorial in Put in Bay commemorates the Battle of Lake Erie, which was a naval battle during the War of 1812 against the English. It is named after Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry.
The monument stands 352 feet tall. It was built in 1915 and symbolizes American tradition as well as respect for our country’s history.
Perry’s Monument is open every day during the summer season, and the last ascent to the observation deck is 30 minutes before closing.
There is a charge for admission to the observation deck, and you pay at the Visitors Center, which is free of charge.
The grounds in front of the Monument host events during the summer. Check their website or Facebook page before you plan to visit.
Check out our article about Things to do in Put in Bay!
(Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Peninsula) A hidden gem in Northeastern Ohio! Trails, ski resorts, waterfalls, covered bridge, wonderful information center, stunning views and even more trails. Beautiful National Park between Akron and Cleveland Ohio. Only wish we had better hiking shoes and more time!Lisa (TripAdvisor)
Cindy’s Insider Ohio Tips!
While exploring Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio, consider enjoying the picturesque landscapes and historic charm by taking a scenic ride on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.
Let’s Visit National Parks in Ohio!
Have you visited any of the National Parks in Ohio? Did you find plenty of things to do for both kids and adults? We’d love to know! Leave a comment below and share your experience.
For hiking and other outdoor activities, be sure to check out our Metro Parks section!