ANNUAL VISITORS: 2.24 M
Located near the populous communities of Cleveland and Akron, and bisected by highways, the refuge here was created as a way to protect some recreational space that the government deemed necessary for the urban environment. Part of this acreage once contained an industrial waste yard through which ran the Cuyahoga River, a stretch of water so foul that its surface caught fire numerous times. Declared a Superfund site, the area was cleaned, its wetlands restored, and the surrounding lands reforested. Now Cuyahoga has 125 miles of trails welcoming bikers, strollers, and horse enthusiasts.
Some urban visitors come simply to see the Brandywine Falls, where water dances down sandstone shelves, or to spot soaring bald eagles. Or they can visit the National First Ladies Library, as well as the Hale Farm & Village, a living history museum community called Wheatfield containing relocated historic local structures.