Cuyahoga Valley National Park vs. Badlands National Park

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If you’re planning a vacation and would like a quick comparison of Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Badlands National Park, we’ve got you covered.

We’ll take a look at what they have to offer in terms of hiking and wildlife, plus what the best time of year to visit might be.

Let’s get started with an overview of Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park Overview

Though a short distance from the urban areas of Cleveland and Akron, Cuyahoga Valley National Park seems worlds away. The park is a refuge for native plants and wildlife, and provides routes of discovery for visitors. The winding Cuyahoga River gives way to deep forests, rolling hills, and open farmlands. Walk or ride the Towpath Trail to follow the historic route of the Ohio & Erie Canal.

Badlands National Park Overview

Badlands National Park is an incredible natural landscape located in the US state of South Dakota. Founded in 1941, Badlands is known for its sweeping canyons, rolling hills, and dramatic rock formations. The park is renowned for its rich variety of plants and animals, ranging from prickly cactus plants to bighorn sheep. There are also a number of historic sites within Badlands National Park, including Native American settlements and homesteads that exemplify the adventurous spirit of early settlers in the area. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing day hiking through scenic vistas or exploring the fascinating history of this iconic national park, Badlands has something for everyone!

Hiking At National Parks

Most national parks have some of the best hiking trails you’ll find anywhere in the US.

If you’re planning to take along your furry friend, double-check the rules before you go – as many of the parks have different rules about bringing animals along with you.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park Hiking Trails

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a beautiful place to go hiking with many different trails to choose from. The easiest trail is the Towpath Trail which is level and paved making it great for those who are looking for an easy hike or for those with strollers or wheelchairs. The most difficult trail is the Ledges Trail which has a few steep areas and is mostly rocky. Whichever trail you choose, you are sure to have a great time exploring Cuyahoga Valley National Park!

Best Hikes At Cuyahoga Valley National Park

The ratings below are based on user-submitted data at

Hike Name Elevation Gain Difficulty Rating Type Average Rating
Pine Grove Trail 27.7368 1 loop 4
Buckeye Trail and Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Loop 101.8032 3 loop 4
Oak Hill Trail 28.956 1 loop 4
Ledges Trail and Pine Grove Trail Loop 83.82 3 loop 4.5
Boston to Red Lock Loop via Buckeye Trail and Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath 235.9152 3 loop 4
Wetmore Outer Loop 243.84 3 loop 4.5
Tree Farm Trail 44.8056 1 loop 3.5
Riding Run Trail Loop 130.7592 3 loop 4.5
Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath: Peninsula to Boston Mills 25.908 1 out and back 4.5
Perkins Trail and Riding Run Loop 164.8968 3 loop 4.5

Hiking Overview at Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park is home to some of the best hiking trails in the country. For those looking for an easy hike, the one-mile Notch Trail is a great option. The trailhead is located near the park visitor center, and the trail itself is relatively flat and well-maintained. For those looking for a more challenging hike, the seven-mile Castle Trail is a great option. The trailhead is located near the high point of Badlands Loop Road, and the trail features a number of steep climbs. However, hikers are rewarded with stunning views of Badlands formations along the way.

Top 10 Hiking Trails at Badlands National Park

Hike Name Elevation Gain Difficulty Rating Type Average Rating
Sage Creek Loop 245.9736 5 loop 4
Sheep Mountain Table Road 180.7464 3 out and back 4.5
Notch Trail 39.9288 3 out and back 4.5
Castle Trail 95.7072 3 loop 4.5
The Door Trail 10.9728 3 out and back 4.5
Saddle Pass Trail 65.8368 3 out and back 4.5
Medicine Root Loop Trail 102.7176 1 loop 4
The Window Trail 1.8288 1 out and back 4
Cliff Shelf Nature Trail 19.812 1 loop 4
Fossil Exhibit Trail 3.9624 1 out and back 3.5

Wildlife at Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including deer, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, skunks, and opossums. The park also has a large population of songbirds, such as robins, cardinals, and blue jays. In addition, Cuyahoga Valley National Park is home to numerous amphibians and reptiles, including frogs, toads, salamanders, turtles, and snakes. Visitors to the park should be aware that Cuyahoga Valley National Park is also home to black bears. While bear sightings are rare, it is important to know what to do if you encounter one. For more information on Cuyahoga Valley National Park wildlife, please visit the park’s website or speak with a ranger during your visit.

Wildlife at Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park is home to a diverse array of plants and animals. The park’s landscape includes prairies, grasslands, and Badlands formations, providing habitat for many different species. Visitors to the park can expect to see bison, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, elk, and mule deer. Badlands National Park is also home to a variety of reptiles, including snakes and lizards. In addition, the park is home to more than 400 species of birds, making it a popular destination for birdwatchers. With such a diverse array of wildlife, Badlands National Park is an excellent place to enjoy the outdoors and observe some of America’s most iconic animals.

What’s the best time to visit?

A lot of times, weather can dictate when it makes the most sense to visit a particular national park.

Plus, depending on the types of activities you’re hoping to take part in, seasonality will be a huge factor in whether those things are even available.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park Weather Considerations

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is located in Ohio and experiences a variety of weather conditions throughout the year. The best time to visit the park is during the spring or fall when the temperatures are mild and there is less chance of rain. The worst time to visit Cuyahoga Valley National Park is during the summer when the temperatures can be hot and humid, and there is a greater chance of thunderstorms. However, no matter what time of year you visit Cuyahoga Valley National Park, be sure to dress appropriately for the weather conditions and pack plenty of water.

Badlands National Park Weather Considerations

Badlands National Park experiences a wide range of weather conditions throughout the year. Temperatures can vary widely, from below freezing in the winter to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. The park also receives a significant amount of rainfall, which can make hiking and camping difficult. As a result, the best time to visit Badlands National Park depends on what activities you want to do. If you’re interested in hiking and camping, the spring months are typically the best time to go, as the weather is milder and there is less chance of rain. However, if you’re simply looking to enjoy the scenery, any time of year can be a good time to visit. No matter when you go, Badlands National Park is sure to provide an unforgettable experience.