Parks and Natural Areas in Ohio

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Special places for contemplation, recreation, and outdoor adventure

If you are looking for a place to get in shape, learn about nature, relax, hike, bike, or watch birds, Ohio has a park for you. Our mission at NeoNaturalist.com is to connect you with nature in order to enrich your life through healthy physical exercise in an environment that allows your mind to reconnect with the outdoor world, while also refreshing the soul. Get outside and enjoy Ohio’s parks!

Just what do we mean by the term “park”? There are any number of definitions, some more inclusive than others. Here, we use the word park loosely. park is land that is set aside in its natural state (more or less) for the preservation of nature and for use by people for compatible recreation. The term includes nature preserves, forest land managed for timber harvest, wildlife sanctuaries, urban parks with some natural features intact, and just about any other open space that has trails and allows public access. If you are looking for soccer fields surrounded by parking lots, you are unlikely to find what you seek here. If you are looking for a place to get away from the daily grind and find some peace, you have come to the right place.

Ohio’s natural bounty is on display in the countless parks around the state, from the federal lands of the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service, to the local township parks and county park districts around the state. While there are too many parks and agencies which manage parks in Ohio to mention them all here, we have compiled a list of agencies that manage parks in Ohio here to serve as a starting point in your search for the right natural setting for you.

Federal Parks

Three federal agencies are responsible for managing parks, forest land, and preserves in Ohio. These are the U.S. National Park Service, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (both agencies within the Department of the Interior) and the U.S. Forest Service (an agency of the Department of Agriculture). Each of these agencies manages land for a different purpose, but they all allow public access to their extensive land holdings.

State Parks

The State of Ohio owns and manages a vast network of parks, forests, nature preserves and wildlife areas across the state. From the resorts at Maumee, Geneva, Salt Fork, and Mohican, to the rustic trails at Johnson’s Woods State Nature Preserve, to the expansive wetlands of the Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area, to Shawnee State Forest, there is truly something for everyone on Ohio’s top-notch state lands.

Local Parks

This is the largest category of park-managing agencies, with dozens of county-wide park districts (Metroparks), and uncounted township, city and village parks all adding to our opportunities to experience and explore nature around the State of Ohio.

Private Nature Preserves

Supplementing our Federal, State and Local Parks, the private sector has preserved thousands of acres in Ohio. The Nature Conservancy, The Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Holden Arboretum and many other private non-profit organizations own critical tracts of natural lands, some containing the most rare and endangered ecosystems, plants and animals we know of in Ohio. While most of these lands are not easily accessible to the public, some are, and so we include them here for your information and hopefully for your exploration.

The four components (federal, state, local, and private) of Ohio’s state-wide system of publicly accessible parks come together to create a truly staggering variety of outdoor recreation, nature-education, and spiritual opportunities. Please visit our parks, let their management and staff know you appreciate them, and above all, tell others about your experiences so that they too can enjoy nature at its finest in Ohio Parks.