Article Summary: National Parks Near Toledo
National Parks Near Toledo! There’s so much more to the Buckeye State than the Toledo Museum Of Art. In this article, More Than Just Parks gives you some exciting vacation destinations within a day’s drive of Toledo.
I’ve been to so many of these amazing places since retiring from teaching in 2018. Did I mention that I taught history? I spent a lifetime teaching about the history behind these momentous sites. Then I got to see them firsthand. And now I’m sharing the stories of these incredible places with you. It doesn’t get any better than that!
The first of many glass manufacturers arrived in the 1880s, eventually earning Toledo its nickname: “The Glass City”.
It has since become a city with a distinctive and growing art community, auto assembly businesses, education, thriving healthcare, and well-supported local sports teams.
And let’s not forget about those fabulous national parks that are a day’s drive (or less) from the city.
So, What Is A National Park?
We get asked that question a lot because there’s a difference between a “national park” and a “national park site.” To help you understand that difference you might want to check out our article titled: What Is A National Park Really?
If you’re planning a trip to the Toledo area then one book that I highly recommend is: A Walking Tour of Toledo, Ohio by Doug Gelbert.
Now let’s go ahead with 10 reasons why you’ll want to hop in your car and make a day’s drive from Toledo to one of these truly amazing places.
Table Of Contents: National Parks Near Toledo
National Parks Near Toledo
- Best National Parks Near Toledo
- More National Parks Near Toledo
- 4. First Ladies National Historic Site
- While You’re In Canton, Ohio, There’s Another Hall Of Fame Worth Seeing
- 5. Hopewell Culture National Historic Park
- 6. James A. Garfield National Historic Site
- 7. Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail | National Parks Near Toledo
- 8. North Country National Scenic Trail
- We’re More Than Just Parks So Check Out Our Next Site
- National Parks Near Toledo FAQ
- Meet The Parks Brothers
- Map Of National Park Sites Near Toledo
- To Learn More About The Buckeye State:
- We Hope You’ll Follow Our Journey
Best National Parks Near Toledo
1. Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument
Distance From Toledo: Two hours & 35 minutes via I-75 S.
The Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument is located in Wilberforce, Ohio. It honors the legacy of Charles Young (1864-1922), an African American military leader and the third African American to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point.
Charles Young was a member of the 9th and 10th Calvary Regiments, also known as the Buffalo Soldiers, which were comprised of African American soldiers who served the United States military in the western frontier after the Civil War. During his military career, Young was known for his bravery and leadership, and rose to the rank of Colonel.
In 2013, the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument was established to commemorate the life and legacy of Young and the Buffalo Soldiers. The monument is a part of the National Park Service and includes the birthplace and childhood home of Young, as well as a museum dedicated to the history of the Buffalo Soldiers.
The Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument serves as an important reminder of the contributions and sacrifices of African American soldiers in the military and is a symbol of their ongoing legacy and impact on American history.
Things To Do At The Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument
Some of the things you can do at the monument include:
- Take a tour of the Charles Young House: Visitors can take a tour of the house where Charles Young lived, which is now a National Historic Landmark. Visitors can learn about the life of Charles Young and the history of the Buffalo Soldiers.
- Visit the Visitors Center: The Visitors Center has exhibits and displays that provide information on the history of the Buffalo Soldiers, Charles Young and the role of African Americans in the military.
- Take a hike: The monument has a 0.6 miles hiking trail, that takes visitors through the historic district of Wilberforce University and the Charles Young House.
- Attend ranger-led programs: The park offers a variety of ranger-led programs, including guided walks, talks, and demonstrations. These programs provide visitors with an in-depth look at the history and significance of the Buffalo Soldiers and Charles Young.
- Explore the Wilberforce University: Visitors can also explore Wilberforce University, which was the first African American university in the United States and where Charles Young taught.
- Visit nearby Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park: Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park is located nearby, it’s the birthplace of aviation and the Wright Brothers.
- Visit the nearby towns and communities: The monument is located near the towns of Dayton and Springfield, which offer visitors a variety of shopping, dining, and lodging options.
2. Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Distance From Toledo: One hour & 51 minutes via I-80 E.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park covers over 33,000 acres and includes a scenic stretch of the Cuyahoga River, as well as rolling hills, forests, and wetlands.
The park was established in 1974 and is the only national park in Ohio. It was created to protect the natural and cultural resources of the Cuyahoga River Valley and to provide opportunities for recreation and enjoyment of the great outdoors.
Visitors to Cuyahoga Valley National Park can enjoy a variety of recreational activities, including hiking, biking, and horseback riding on over 125 miles of trails. The park also features several historic sites and structures, including the scenic Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail, the Boston Mill Visitor Center, and the Peninsula House Museum.
In addition to its natural beauty, Cuyahoga Valley National Park is also home to a diverse array of wildlife, including deer, fox, beavers, and over 300 species of birds. The park is a popular destination for birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts.
Things To Do At Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Popular attractions and activities include:
- Beaver Marsh where you will enjoy exceptional scenery and wildlife. It’s one of the park’s most popular destinations.
- Brandywine Falls which is a magnificent 60-foot waterfall that’s accessed by boardwalk.
- The Ritchie Ledges are a geologic wonder. The trail around The Ledges is 2.2 miles and connects to a larger network of trails in the Virginia Kendall Area.
- Blue Hen Falls is a 15-foot waterfall. To get there you will hike 1.5 miles (one way) from Boston Mill Visitor Center.
- The Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail is accessible by biking, walking or even wheelchair.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park also offers boating, fishing and horseback riding trails too.
3. Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park
Distance From Toledo: Two hours & 18 minutes via I-75 S.
Growing up you were probably taught that “two wrongs don’t make a right.” As I’m an avid history buff, what I learned is that “two Wrights make one fabulous airplane.”
All joking aside, on a cold, windy morning on December 17, 1903, history was made. It was at the sandy dunes of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, that two Ohio brothers changed the world.
These two intrepid brothers, named Orville and Wilbur Wright, built and successfully tested the first airplane, the Wright Flyer 1. They were early pioneers of flight who faced tremendous obstacles.
The Wrights were ridiculed as cranks and fools. As award-winning author and historian David McCullough notes:
“I don’t think they were ever happier in their lives than they were living in the extreme hardships of Kitty Hawk. The attacks of mosquitos, the winds, the struggle they had against the elements. But they loved it.”
They Had The Wright Stuff
Before experimenting with airplanes, the Wright brothers ran a bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio. In 1900, the brothers traveled from Ohio to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, to begin a series of flight experiments which would rewrite the history of aviation.
While their historic flight lasted only 12 seconds it was nevertheless the first flight in history in which a machine carrying a man had raised itself by its own power into the air in full flight, had sailed forward without reduction of speed, and had finally landed at a point as high as that from which it started.
Things To Do At The Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park
The Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center is one of two visitor centers operated by the park in Dayton, Ohio. It’s located just west of downtown Dayton. Visitors can go there and learn the amazing story of Orville and Wilbur Wright.
The Center also celebrates the achievements of Paul Laurence Dunbar. Dunbar was an American poet, novelist, and short story writer. He was born in Dayton, Ohio, on June 27, 1872, to parents who had been enslaved in Kentucky before the American Civil War.
Dunbar went on to become one of the first influential African-American poets in American literature.
You Can Visit Paul Dunbar’s Historic Home
The Paul Laurence Dunbar House Historic Site honors his legacy. Visitors will learn about the renowned poet and his mother, Matilda. The house, the interpretive exhibits and displays inside the home document Dunbar’s travels, lifestyle and poetry.
You can purchase this gifted writer’s complete works. The Life And Works Of Paul Laurence Dunbar: Containing His Complete Poetical Works, His Best Short Stories, Numerous Anecdotes And A Complete Biography Of The Famous Poet is a great way to learn more about this amazing man while experiencing his incredibly body of work.
Visit The Site Where Aviation History Began
There is a second interpretative center. It’s the Huffman Prairie Interpretive Center. It’s located northeast of downtown Dayton, next to the Wright Patterson Air Force Base and the National Museum of the Air Force.
While you’re there you’ll have the opportunity to visit the site where aviation history began.
At Huffman Prairie Flying Field you can explore the area and view a replica hangar that is very similar to the one which the Wrights used to house their airplanes.
You can also tour a replica of the bike shop that the Wright Brothers operated. It’s part of Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park.
Visitors can step back in time and tour the bike shop where the Wrights fixed bicycles and refined their mechanical ingenuity to develop the world’s first practical airplane.
And there’s Carillon Historical Park. It’s a 65-acre open-air history museum you can learn about the history of Dayton, Ohio. There you can view the world’s first practical airplane, the 1905 Wright Flyer III.
More National Parks Near Toledo
4. First Ladies National Historic Site
Distance From Toledo: Two hours & 30 minutes via I-80 E.
Almost 50 women have served as the “First Lady” of the United States.
At the First Ladies National Historic Site in Canton, Ohio, you can explore a museum of rotating exhibits, watch a film which examines the legacies of America’s first ladies, and check out the National First Ladies’ Library.
You can also step back in time and visit the Saxton House. It’s the former home of First Lady Ida and President William McKinley.
America’s Most Influential First Lady
I love doing historical research which is probably why I ended up teaching history for almost 30 years.
If you’re someone who follows sports then you’re likely familiar with rankings. As a long-time resident of Georgia, I assure you that I do follow sports especially college football.
In college football and almost everything else, most rankings tend to change over time. And yet the woman considered by many knowledgeable experts to be America’s Most Influential First Lady hasn’t changed over time.
After the scrutiny of three expert opinion surveys over twenty years, Eleanor Roosevelt is still ranked first among all other women who have served as America’s First Ladies, according to an expert opinion poll conducted by the Siena (College) Research Institute (SRI).
America’s Longest Serving First Lady
Eleanor Roosevelt served as First Lady for over 12 years. She played an active role in advising her husband and was the first first lady to hold her own press conferences.
Mrs. Roosevelt also championed causes, such as Women’s Rights, and supported programs, such as the one which gave African Americans the opportunity to become fighter pilots during World War Two.
Eleanor Roosevelt was the first first lady to remain an influential political force after her husband’s death. She served as Chair of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.
If you’re interested in learning more about this remarkable First Lady then I recommend Eleanor Roosevelt, Fighter for Justice: Her Impact on the Civil Rights Movement, the White House, and the World by Ilene Cooper.
While You’re In Canton, Ohio, There’s Another Hall Of Fame Worth Seeing
The Pro Football Hall of Fame is dedicated to honoring the greatest players, coaches, and contributors in the history of professional American football. It is located in Canton, Ohio and was established in 1963.
The Hall of Fame showcases a wide range of exhibits and interactive displays, including game-worn jerseys, championship rings, historical artifacts, and photographs. Visitors can also watch videos and listen to audio presentations that highlight the careers of the inducted members.
Induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame is considered the highest honor that can be achieved by a player or coach in the NFL. Candidates are evaluated based on their statistics, impact on the game, and overall contributions to the sport. Each year, a select group of individuals are inducted into the Hall of Fame during a weekend-long celebration that includes a parade, a banquet, and an induction ceremony.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame serves as a tribute to the rich history and heritage of the NFL and serves as an educational resource for fans of all ages. It is a must-visit destination for any football fan and a celebration of the greatest players and contributors in the sport’s history.
5. Hopewell Culture National Historic Park
Distance From Toledo: Three hours & 11 minutes via I-75 S.
Hopewell Culture National Historical Park is located in Chillicothe, Ohio and is dedicated to preserving and interpreting the history of the Hopewell people.
The Hopewell culture was a complex society that flourished in the Ohio River Valley from about 200 BC to 500 AD. They are known for their large earthwork mounds, including circular and square enclosures, and intricate geometric designs that are still visible at the park today.
Visitors to Hopewell Culture National Historical Park can take guided tours of the mounds, including the imposing 20-acre Mound City Group, which contains at least 23 mounds. There are also several hiking trails that wind through the park, providing visitors with the opportunity to explore the natural beauty of the Ohio River Valley and see the mounds from different perspectives.
In addition to the mounds, the park features a museum that showcases artifacts and exhibits related to the Hopewell culture, including pottery, jewelry, and other items. The museum also provides visitors with an overview of the Hopewell people and their way of life, including their beliefs, customs, and technological innovations.
Hopewell Culture National Historical Park is an important historical site and a valuable resource for those interested in learning about the culture and history of the Ohio River Valley. It offers a unique opportunity to experience the beauty and mystery of the Hopewell culture, and to explore the legacy of this fascinating ancient society.
6. James A. Garfield National Historic Site
Distance From Toledo: Two hours & 12 minutes via I-80 E/I-90 E & I-90 E.
Now here’s a fascinating fact. More of our country’s presidents come from Ohio than from any other state. Eight of 45 American presidents were elected from the Buckeye State, earning Ohio the nickname “the Mother of Presidents.”
Given this fact then it’s only fitting that Ohio National Parks offers visitors not just one presidential site but two.
James A. Garfield served as Brigadier General in the Civil War. President Abraham Lincoln, however, felt that Garfield could be of greater use to the Union cause in Congress.
So, being a good soldier, Garfield resigned his commission in 1862 to serve eighteen years in Congress. He became the leading Republican in the House of Representations.
In 1880, Garfield was nominated for the presidency. He defeated his Democratic opponent, another former Civil War General named Winfield Scott Hancock, by a mere 10,000 votes.
Historians consider Garfield to have been a “brilliant maybe.” He was committed to political reform and hemispheric cooperation. Sadly, on July 2nd, 1881, he was struck by an assassin’s bullet.
Garfield spent two and a half months in a slow, agonizing decline before dying on September 19, 1881.
To learn more about this fascinating individual I recommend reading Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard.
Things To Do At The James A. Garfield National Historic Site
If you’re a first timer then I recommend that you start your visit to James A. Garfield National Historic Site in the Visitor Center. There you can see the 18 minutes biographical movie of James A. Garfield and tour the museum exhibits which examine his life.
You’ll have the opportunity to step back in time, put yourself in the mindset of our nation’s 20th president and imagine what might have been had Garfield not been tragically cut down at the outset of what many believed could have been a consequential presidency.
Then you can explore the beautiful grounds surrounding Garfield’s home.
7. Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail | National Parks Near Toledo
The Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail follows the route taken by the Lewis and Clark Expedition, also known as the Corps of Discovery, during their journey from St. Louis, Missouri to the Pacific Ocean and back between 1804 and 1806.
The trail covers more than 4,900 miles and passes through 11 states, including Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Dakota, Montana, and Oregon.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition was commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson to explore the western part of the United States and find a water route to the Pacific Ocean. Led by William Clark and Meriwether Lewis, the expedition set out from St. Louis in May 1804 with a team of 33 men, including French-Indian guide Sacagawea.
Over the next two years, they encountered many challenges, including rugged terrain, harsh weather conditions, and encounters with Native American tribes. Despite these difficulties, they successfully completed their mission, gathering valuable information about the western territories and laying the groundwork for future western expansion.
What Can I See In Ohio That’s Connected To Lewis & Clark
Places of interest to visit in Ohio include:
- Campus Martius Museum-Founded in 1788 by Rufus Putnam, Marietta, Ohio, was the first settlement established in the Northwest Territory. The stockade was known as Campus Martius, so named because it put settlers and soldiers alike in mind of the Fields of Mars, a training ground once used by ancient Roman legions.
- Eulett Center-The Eulett Center takes its name from Charles A. Eulett, a teacher and naturalist from Adams County who advocated for the protection of local prairies and grasslands in the 1960s and 70s. The nature preserve protects 20,000 acres of pristine forestlands, prairies, ravines, and slopes.
- Historic Fort Steuben-It’s a reconstructed military fort located in Steubenville, Ohio, along the Ohio River. The Reconstruction of Fort Steuben began shortly after 1986, 200 years after the fort’s initial creation, and was led by the Old Fort Steuben Project. (Source: NPS)
8. North Country National Scenic Trail
Distance From Toledo: Two hours & 36 minutes via US-23 N & I-96 W.
The North Country National Scenic Trail provides visitors opportunities from bird watching to backpacking.
The trail traverses eight northern states and connects a host of natural, historic and cultural sites. You can see everything from small towns to larger cities, valleys to hilltops and much more.
The History Of The North Country National Scenic Trail
In 1980, the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT) was authorized by Congress. It stretches 4,600 miles from upstate New Hampshire to its western terminus at Lake Sakakawea State Park.
The trail actually traversed seven states until 2019 when Vermont was added. The Vermont section is only about 70 miles long.
The Trail enters Ohio from southern Michigan and joins the Wabash Cannonball Trail.
It shortcuts a portion of this rail trail through Maumee State Forest and Oak Openings Metropark. Dipping south and following the Maumee River, the NCT converges with the Buckeye Trail.
It passes through more urban areas like Dayton and Xenia, skirts east of Cincinnati, and nearly reaches Kentucky before trending further east then eventually north again. (Source: North Country Trail Association)
We’re More Than Just Parks So Check Out Our Next Site
9. Toledo Museum Of Art
Distance From Toledo: 5 minutes via Monroe St.
Our next site is not a national park, but remember that we’re More Than Just Parks which means that we’re more than just parks!
The Toledo Museum of Art is a world-renowned art museum located in Toledo, Ohio. The museum was founded in 1901 by Edward Drummond Libbey, a glass manufacturer, and his wife Florence Scott Libbey. It is known for its extensive collection of art and artifacts from around the world.
The museum’s permanent collection includes over 30,000 works of art spanning more than 5,000 years of human history. It includes a wide range of art forms, from painting, sculpture, and photography to glass, ceramics, and decorative arts. The museum also has an extensive collection of ancient Greek, Roman, and Egyptian artifacts, as well as works from the Renaissance, Baroque, and modern periods.
The Toledo Museum of Art is also known for its Glass Pavilion, which opened in 2006. This building is dedicated to the art and science of glass and features galleries, studios, and classrooms for glassblowing, as well as a glass-themed gift shop and a café.
In addition to its collection, the museum offers a range of educational programs and events for visitors of all ages, including lectures, workshops, and guided tours. The museum is open to the public year-round and admission is free, though some special exhibitions may have a fee.
10. William Howard Taft National Historic Site
Distance From Toledo: Three hours & 10 minutes via I-75 S.
The William Howard Taft National Historic Site is located in the Mount Auburn neighborhood of Cincinnati, Ohio.
The site preserves the childhood home of William Howard Taft, the 27th President of the United States, and the only person to have served as both President and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
The Taft family lived in the house from 1851 to 1872, during which time William Howard Taft was born and spent his formative years. The house is a two-story brick building, representative of the style of middle-class homes in the mid-19th century.
In the late 1970s, the Taft family donated the house to the National Park Service, and it was designated as a National Historic Site in 1980. The house has since been restored to its appearance during the Taft family’s residency, and it is now open to the public as a museum.
National Parks Near Toledo FAQ
The Ohio national parks sites are as follows:
Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park
First Ladies National Historic Site
Hopewell Culture National Historic Park
James A. Garfield National Historic Site
Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail
North Country National Scenic Trail
Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial
William Howard Taft National Historic Site
The first of many glass manufacturers arrived in the 1880s, eventually earning Toledo its nickname: “The Glass City”. It has since become a city with a distinctive and growing art community, auto assembly businesses, education, thriving healthcare, and well-supported local sports teams.
Why Trust Us About National Parks Near Toledo?
We’re Jim Pattiz and Will Pattiz, collectively known as the Pattiz Brothers (and sometimes the Parks Brothers) and we absolutely LOVE the national parks.
You should probably know that we don’t just make this stuff up out of thin air. We’ve spent our entire adult lives exploring and filming America’s national parks and public lands.
We’ve worked with the National Park Service, the Department of Interior, USDA, and the U.S. Forest Service for years creating films on important places and issues. Our work has been featured in leading publications all over the world and even some people outside of our immediate family call us experts on the national parks.
Meet The Parks Brothers
Map Of National Park Sites Near Toledo
List Of National Park Sites Near Toledo
- Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument
- Cuyahoga Valley National Park
- Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park
- First Ladies National Historic Site
- Hopewell Culture National Historic Park
- James A. Garfield National Historic Site
- Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail
- North Country National Scenic Trail
- Toledo Museum of Art
- William Howard Taft National Historic Site
To Learn More About The Buckeye State:
- For Race and Country: The Life and Career of Colonel Charles Young by David Kilroy.
- Black Officer in a Buffalo Soldier Regiment: The Military Career of Charles Young by Brian G. Shellum.
- The Wright Brothers by David McCullough.
- First Women: The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies by Kate Andersen Brower.
- Women of the White House: The illustrated story of the first ladies of the United States of America by Amy Russo.
- Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard.
- Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West by Stephen Ambrose.
- Oliver Hazard Perry: Honor, Courage, and Patriotism in the Early U.S. Navy by David Curtis Skaggs.
- The Naval War of 1812: A Complete History by Theodore Roosevelt.
- The William Howard Taft Presidency by Lewis L. Gould.
We Hope You’ll Follow Our Journey
Our goal here at More Than Just Parks is to share the beauty of America’s national parks and public lands through stunning short films in an effort to get Americans and the world to see the true value in land conservation.
We hope you’ll follow our journey through the parks and help us to keep them the incredible places that they are. If you’re interested in joining the adventure then sign up below!