Cuyahoga Valley National Park vs Dry Tortugas National Park

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Discover two of the most captivating parks in the US – Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Dry Tortugas National Park, each offering an experience like no other. While Cuyahoga Valley, located between Cleveland and Akron in Ohio, boasts breathtaking waterfalls, rolling hills and a scenic railway, Dry Tortugas is a remote island chain located 68 miles west of Key West, Florida and is famous for its crystal clear waters teeming with marine life and the historic Fort Jefferson. Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventures or a journey through history, these two parks are sure to leave you in awe and inspire you to learn more. So, get ready to be swept away by the beauty of nature and history at Cuyahoga Valley and Dry Tortugas National Parks!

Hiking Trails in Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Dry Tortugas National Park

Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio offers a range of hiking trails, from leisurely walks to challenging treks. The Ledges Trail is one of the easiest hikes, a 1.5-mile route through a rocky landscape with overlooks. For a more strenuous hike, try the Towpath Trail, a 20-mile trail along the historic Ohio & Erie Canal, or the Buckeye Trail, a 40-mile trek through rugged terrain.

Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida also has a variety of hikes, from short walks to longer excursions. The Garden Key Trail is an easy hike, a short walk to the historic Fort Jefferson. For a more challenging hike, the Loggerhead Key Trail is a 4.5-mile hike to the southernmost point in the Dry Tortugas and offers spectacular ocean views. Both parks offer unique hiking experiences, from rocky ledges to historic towpaths to stunning ocean vistas.

Most Popular Hiking Trails in Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Name Length Elevation Type Difficulty Visitor Ratings
Ledges Trail 2.59 mi 154.16 ft loop Moderate 4.5/5
Brandywine Gorge Trail 1.70 mi 216.48 ft loop Moderate 4.5/5
Stanford House to Brandywine Falls Trail 3.79 mi 534.64 ft loop Moderate 4.5/5
Blue Hen Falls Trail 0.50 mi 78.72 ft out and back Moderate 4/5
Salt Run Trail 4.19 mi 406.72 ft loop Moderate 4.5/5
Plateau Trail 4.39 mi 318.16 ft loop Moderate 4.5/5
Pine Grove Trail and Ledges Trail Loop from Kendall Lake 3.79 mi 324.72 ft loop Moderate 4.5/5
Buckeye Trail to Valley Bridle Trail Loop 3.39 mi 393.60 ft loop Moderate 4.5/5
Wetmore Bridle Trail 4.69 mi 557.60 ft loop Moderate 4.5/5
Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail: Brecksville Station 4.39 mi 68.88 ft out and back Easy 4.5/5

Most Popular Hiking Trails in Dry Tortugas National Park

Name Length Elevation Type Difficulty Visitor Ratings
Fort Jefferson Loop 0.50 mi 3.28 ft loop Easy 4.5/5

Wildlife in Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Dry Tortugas National Park

Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio offers a range of wildlife, including deer, beavers, otters, muskrats, squirrels, and rabbits. The park attracts birds like bald eagles, falcons, and herons, and is rich in native flowers, trees, and shrubs.

In contrast, Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida is a remote island chain known for its unique ecosystem and marine wildlife, including sea turtles, manatees, and tropical fish. The park also boasts a diverse seabird population, including pelicans, boobies, and migratory and shorebirds, as well as sea grass and coral reefs.

Below are lists of the most commonly spotted wildlife at Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Dry Tortugas National Park. However, you can see a full list of wildlife at each national park here.

Birds

Cuyahoga Valley National Park Dry Tortugas National Park
Peregrine Falcon Peregrine Falcon
Northern Harrier Northern Harrier
Sharp-Shinned Hawk Sharp-Shinned Hawk
Osprey Osprey
Tree Swallow Tree Swallow
Mallard Mallard
Canada Goose Canada Goose
Lincoln’s Sparrow Lincoln’s Sparrow
Ruby-Crowned Kinglet Ruby-Crowned Kinglet
American Robin American Robin
Great Horned Owl Red-Tailed Hawk
Red-Tailed Hawk Northern Flicker
Northern Flicker Merlin
Merlin Barn Swallow
Barn Swallow Savannah Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron Hermit Thrush
Hermit Thrush American Kestrel
American Kestrel Song Sparrow
Bald Eagle European Starling
Song Sparrow Northern Pintail
European Starling Green-Winged Teal
Northern Pintail American Pipit
American Wigeon Swainson’s Thrush
Green-Winged Teal Killdeer

Mammals

Cuyahoga Valley National Park Dry Tortugas National Park
Coyote House Rat
American Beaver
Muskrat
Big Brown Bat
Bobcat
Striped Skunk
Little Brown Bat
Deer Mouse
Raccoon
Silver-Haired Bat
Hoary Bat
Red Fox
Long-Tailed Weasel
House Mouse
Mink
Gray Fox
Badger
Masked Shrew
Red Squirrel
White-Tailed Deer
Virginia Opossum
Meadow Vole
Red Bat
White-Footed Mouse
Norway Rat

Beautiful Landscapes in Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Dry Tortugas National Park

Cuyahoga Valley Nat’l Park has rolling hills, lush foliage, historic sites, & tranquil waterways. Sites incl. historic Canal Exploration Center, Everett Covered Bridge, & natural wonders like Brandywine Falls (60ft) & Ledges Overlook.

Dry Tortugas Nat’l Park is located 70 miles west of Key West, FL & is famous for its clear waters & marine life, incl. coral reefs & fish species. The park features Fort Jefferson (19th-century military fort), lush mangrove forests, seagrass beds, & Garden Key Lighthouse.

Things To-Do and Activities in Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Dry Tortugas National Park

Cuyahoga Valley NP is known for outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and bird-watching, as well as scenic train rides, historic canal town visits, and waterfall viewing. Dry Tortugas NP, on the other hand, is a remote island park that offers world-class snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing, and boat tours to see wildlife. CVNP is more accessible with nearby amenities, while Dry Tortugas requires a ferry or seaplane trip and is more primitive but provides a secluded, exotic adventure.

Best Time to Visit Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Dry Tortugas National Park

Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio has a humid continental climate with chilly winters and warm summers. Best time to visit is spring & fall with mild temperatures & colorful foliage. Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida, on the other hand, has a tropical climate with warm temperatures throughout the year & high humidity. The park is hottest & most humid Jun-Sep, making winter (Dec-Mar) the best time to visit, when temperatures are cooler & less humid. Both parks offer unique experiences, but weather is a significant factor in determining the best time to visit for each individual.

Family Friendliness of Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Dry Tortugas National Park

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is more family-friendly than Dry Tortugas National Park. CVNP offers a variety of activities such as hiking, biking, picnicking, and educational programs, making it a great choice for families. Dry Tortugas, however, requires a ferry or seaplane ride to reach and is best known for snorkeling, camping, and bird watching, which may not be as appealing to families with young children. If traveling with children, CVNP is the better option for a family-friendly national park experience.

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