The 5 Best National Parks Near Cincinnati

Cincinnati is home to a variety of places where you can get your nature fix including hiking trails, kayaking spots, outdoor arboretums, and more.

However, if you’re looking to immerse yourself in nature on an even grander scale, you should check out one of the national parks located near the Queen City.

In this article we share the 5 best national parks that are worth visiting near Cincinnati.

Map of National Parks

The map below shows the locations of each national park mentioned in this post:

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Holding the title as Ohio’s only national park, Cuyahoga Valley is a gorgeous natural area located just over three hours north of Downtown Cincinnati.

The park features lush forests, waterfalls, ravines, and plenty of wildlife. The park offers plenty of spots for hiking, biking, fishing, birding, and other outdoor activities.

The Cuyahoga River that runs through the heart of the national park features 22 miles of gorgeous scenery as well, which is a major draw for visitors year-round.

National Park Size: 32,000 acres

Driving Distance from Downtown Cincinnati: 3 hours 30 minutes

Mammoth Cave National Park

Boasting the largest cave system in the entire world, Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky offers one of the most unique spots to visit within a reasonable driving distance of Cincinnati.

The park features over 400 miles of underground passageways through a variety of tunnels. There are also plenty of spots for hiking, fishing, and horseback riding along with cave tours.

Check out the video below for a quick peak at the impressive size of some of the caves at the park:

National Park Size: 52,000 acres

Driving Distance from Downtown Cincinnati: 3 hours 30 minutes

Indiana Dunes National Park

Located in Indiana, the Indiana Dunes National Park hugs 15 miles of the southern shore of Lake Michigan and offers a unique spot to check out.

The park has over 50 miles of hiking trails that feature wetlands, prairies, forests, rivers, and rugged dunes.

Check out the video below for a quick overview of the national park:

National Park Size: 15,000 acres

Driving Distance from Downtown Cincinnati: 4 hours

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Located about 5 hours south of Downtown Cincinnati, the Great Smoky Mountains is easily the most scenic national park that you can visit on the east side of the United States.

The park boasts over 500,000 acres of wilderness, forests, rivers, mountains, and waterfalls to explore. For anyone interested in long hikes, there’s no better place to visit.

The park also offers some incredible views and plenty of epic wildlife.

National Park Size: 522,000 acres

Driving Distance from Downtown Cincinnati: 5 hours

Shenandoah National Park

Located in northern Virginia, Shenandoah National Park is known for its impressive trail system, plentiful fishing spots, and gorgeous waterfalls.

The park features plenty of opportunities to view wildlife including birds, deer, and even black bear.

The best time of year to visit this park is June through October when the wildflowers are in full bloom and the views are the most scenic.

Check out the National Park Service site for ideas on planning your visit.

National Park Size: 200,000 acres

Driving Distance from Downtown Cincinnati: 6 hours 30 minutes

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