Cuyahoga Valley National Park vs Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve

Feel Free To Share:

Cuyahoga Valley National Park vs Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve

Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve are two vastly different parks that offer a range of outdoor experiences. While Cuyahoga Valley is known for its lush forests, rolling hills, and meandering river, Great Sand Dunes is a unique destination for adventure seekers with towering sand dunes that rise up from the desert landscape. Whether you seek a tranquil hike, an exciting sandboarding session, or a chance to witness nature’s splendor, these parks have something for everyone. So, lace up your hiking boots, grab your sunscreen, and prepare for an unforgettable journey to two of America’s most fascinating national parks.

Hiking Trails in Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve

Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Great Sand Dunes NP&P offer diverse hiking options. In CVNP, trails range from easy walks to strenuous hikes, totaling over 125 miles. The Buckeye Trail is a flat 2.7-mile easy loop through wetlands and forests while the Ledges Trail is a 1.5-mile challenging hike featuring steep cliffs and rocky terrain. At Great Sand Dunes, the unique landscapes include towering sand dunes, with the 1.5-mile Dunes Overlook Trail offering moderate views of the dunes and the surrounding mountains. The 4.6-mile High Dune Trail is a more demanding hike, climbing over 700 feet to the top of the tallest dune.

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 Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve

Name Length Elevation Type Difficulty Visitor Ratings
High Dune Trail 2.99 mi 629.76 ft out and back Hard 5/5
Mosca Pass Trail 6.39 mi 1,459.60 ft out and back Moderate 4.5/5
Dunes Trail from Pinyon Flats 4.49 mi 954.48 ft loop Hard 4.5/5
Sand Dunes Loop Trail 4.99 mi 741.28 ft loop Moderate 4.5/5
Upper Sand Creek Lake Trail 7.38 mi 1,964.72 ft out and back Very Hard 4.5/5
Medano Lake Trail 7.88 mi 2,289.44 ft out and back Moderate 4/5
Montville Nature Trail 0.50 mi 88.56 ft loop Easy 4/5
Dunes Overlook Sand Ramp Trail 1.50 mi 265.68 ft out and back Moderate 3.5/5
Little Medano Creek Trail to Medano Lake 25.04 mi 3,542.40 ft out and back Moderate 4/5
Wellington Ditch Trail 1.80 mi 157.44 ft out and back Easy 4/5

Wildlife in Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve

Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio boasts diverse wildlife like white-tailed deer, river otters, beavers, and coyotes. Birds like bald eagles, great blue herons, and warbler species are a birdwatcher’s delight. The park is rich in native wildflowers, ferns, and hardwood trees.

In contrast, Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve in Colorado features unique sand dunes and a variety of wildlife, including pronghorns, black-tailed prairie dogs, mule deer, and bird species such as mountain plover, golden eagle, and American kestrel. The park is also home to sagebrush, yucca, and piñon pine.

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

Birds

Cuyahoga Valley National Park Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve
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 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
Bald Eagle Bald Eagle
Song Sparrow Song Sparrow
European Starling European Starling
Northern Pintail Northern Pintail
American Wigeon American Wigeon
Green-Winged Teal Green-Winged Teal

Mammals

Cuyahoga Valley National Park Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve
Coyote Coyote
American Beaver American Beaver
Muskrat Muskrat
Big Brown Bat Big Brown Bat
Bobcat Bobcat
Striped Skunk Striped Skunk
Little Brown Bat Little Brown Bat
Deer Mouse Deer Mouse
Raccoon Raccoon
Silver-Haired Bat Black Bear
Hoary Bat Porcupine
Red Fox Silver-Haired Bat
Long-Tailed Weasel Hoary Bat
House Mouse Red Fox
Mink Long-Tailed Weasel
Gray Fox Mule Deer
Badger Gray Fox
Masked Shrew Long-Legged Myotis
Red Squirrel Long-Eared Bat
White-Tailed Deer Badger
Virginia Opossum Ermine
Meadow Vole Snowshoe Hare
Red Bat Masked Shrew
White-Footed Mouse Water Shrew
Norway Rat Brazilian Free-Tailed Bat

Amphibians

Cuyahoga Valley National Park Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve
Northern Leopard Frog Northern Leopard Frog
Eastern Tiger Salamander Tiger Salamander
Bullfrog Woodhouse’s Toad
Wood Frog Plains Spadefoot

Reptiles

Cuyahoga Valley National Park Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve
Racer Bull Snake
Ring-Necked Snake Western Terrestrial Garter Snake
Common Garter Snake Western Prairie Rattlesnake
Eastern Milk Snake Greater Short-Horned Lizards
Eastern Fence Lizard Milksnake
Eastern Fence Lizard

Fish

Cuyahoga Valley National Park Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve
Northern Largemouth Bass Brook Trout
Green Sunfish German Brown Trout
Northern Bluegill Sunfish Cutthroat Trout
Northern Fathead Minnow
Golden Shiner
European Carp
Northern Pike
Eastern Burbot
Central Mottled Sculpin
Graceful Catfish
Black Crappie
Creek Chub
Goldfish

Beautiful Landscapes in Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve

Cuyahoga Valley National Park:
– Cuyahoga River and its valley
– Brandywine Falls (60ft)
– Ledges Overlook with scenic cliffs and rock formations

Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve:
– Tallest sand dunes in North America
– Medano Creek, a seasonal stream along the base of the dunes
– Star Dune (750ft), the tallest dune

Things To-Do and Activities in Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve

Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve both draw visitors for their unique landscapes and outdoor recreation opportunities. Cuyahoga Valley is popular for its scenic railway and bike trail along the Cuyahoga River, as well as its recreational opportunities such as fishing and wildlife viewing. In contrast, Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve draws visitors for its towering sand dunes, offering activities such as sand sledding, hiking, and camping. Both parks also offer ranger-led programs and educational opportunities for visitors to learn about the natural and cultural history of the area. Additionally, Cuyahoga Valley has a number of historic sites, such as the Everett Road Covered Bridge, which visitors can explore, while Great Sand Dunes has the Medano Creek, a seasonal stream that runs through the park and is a popular spot for swimming and picnicking.

Best Time to Visit Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve

Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio has a humid continental climate with warm summers and cold winters. The average temperature in January ranges from the mid-20s to low 30s, with occasional snow and ice storms. Summer temperatures average from the low 70s to the mid-80s. The park is best visited in spring and fall due to mild weather and full blooms or colorful foliage.

Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve in Colorado has a semi-arid climate with cold winters and hot summers. Summer temperatures can reach 90s, while winter temperatures can drop to single digits with occasional snowfall. Monsoon storms can bring heavy rain in summer. Spring and fall are the best times to visit with mild weather and accessible dunes for hiking and recreation.

Family Friendliness of Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve

Cuyahoga Valley National Park offers a variety of family-friendly activities, including hiking, fishing, and canoeing. There are also numerous educational and interactive programs. Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve offers sand sledding, sandboarding, and hiking. Both parks offer scenic views and opportunities to explore nature, but Great Sand Dunes may be more appealing to families with children who enjoy more physically active recreation.

Leave a Comment