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Cuyahoga Valley National Park 2022 attendance approached 3 million

The Boston Mill Visitor Center opened in 2019. The Cuyahoga Valley National Park has seen an increase in visitors since then.
Andrew Meyer
Ideastream Public Media
The Boston Mill Visitor Center opened in 2019. The Cuyahoga Valley National Park has seen an increase in visitors since then.

Nearly 3 million people visited Cuyahoga Valley National Park in 2022 – breaking into the top ten most visited national parks in the country.

Public information officer Pamela Barnes said the park saw a spike in attendance in 2020, and visitation continued to grow, surpassing that number in 2022.

“During the pandemic, when a lot of indoor locations were closed, people found the parks,” she said. “What we've seen is that trend is continuing.”

Barnes also said the park’s name was changed from “national recreation area” to “national park” in 2000, which has helped draw more out-of-town visitors through the years.

“There's a bit more of a recognition of the park designation of National Park,” she said. “That has over the years boosted our out of town visitation to people who want to check all those national parks off their lists.”

National parks across the country utilize traffic counters at the entrance of parking lots to calculate visitors.

The most popular areas of the park are Brandywine Falls, the Ledges Trail and the Beaver Marsh located along the Towpath Trail, Barnes said.

In the last few years there have been several changes made to the park such as the opening of the Boston Mill Visitor Center in 2019. Additionally, there has been an effort to increase access to the Cuyahoga River throughout the park.

According to Barnes, an increased social media presence and the marketing of Cleveland has also led people to visit Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

“When people are planning a trip to Cleveland, they are seeing that there is a national park here,” she said. “They're visiting the city of Cleveland to go to the Rock Hall or sporting events, and then they're adding the park.”

Barnes said Cuyahoga Valley National Park is unique because of its location and history.

“If you hear national park, you’re thinking Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, the Rocky Mountains and vast wilderness, that is not Cuyahoga Valley,” she said. “It’s close to home, it’s between two cities, and it’s the park that tells the incredible story of the Cuyahoga River, […] of environmental comeback.”

The park is an asset to the community, Barnes said.

“It is an incredible resource for people's physical and mental well-being. It's 125 miles of trails,” she said. “You can drive less than a half an hour or so down the road and feel like you are getting away from it all.”

Barnes said she encourages more visitors to come check out the park.

“Don’t let the fact that we've announced this this increase in visitation keep you from coming,” she said. “We love seeing people come to enjoy the national park. We love welcoming people.”

Grace Springer is a journalism student at Kent State University. She is the General Assignment Editor for KentWired and covers executive administration for student media.