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America’s Wild Spaces - Part 3 - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Travelling

Cuyahoga Valley is in the state of Ohio and was created as a state park in 2000, it’s a great place to go for cycling, hiking and railways

The Cuyahoga Valley is Ohio’s only national park and attracts people in their droves with over two million visiting the park’s waterfalls, steep ravines and caves last year. So what is it about this ‘crooked river’ valley that’s so enticing? For a lot of people here it’s all about the trails as there are over 200km of them. They cater for all levels of fitness and expertise, a good step would be to hike or bike the 32km Towpath Trail as this follows part of the old Ohio & Erie Canal. Visitors can also fish, bird watch, picnic, canoe, kayak and visit historic sites. Winter offers a new batch of activities, from snowshoeing or sledging to ice fishing. You can also take a ride aboard the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, this is one of the oldest and longest scenic tourist railways in the country. Rides are seasonal and you will need to check their web site if this is your main reason to visit here. The park is open year-round, however, the trails can be crowded on the weekends, especially in the spring and summer. If you want to see the foliage at its best then the Fall colours peak around mid-October. You can include this as part of a longer seven day round trip from Chicago, passing through Grand Rapids, Pittsburgh and Cleveland, before reaching Cuyahoga. This route will let you stop off at several state parks along Lake Michigan, as well as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

Big Bend is in the state of Texas and was created as a state park in 1934, it’s a good place to go for bird watching, hiking and river floating.

This south-west Texan park does exactly what it says on the tin, named for the grand bend of the Rio Grande that lies within its boundaries. It is a place of remote and rare beauty, where the Chihuahuan Desert is at its most dramatically carved, colourful and wildlife-rich. According to the information put out by the park, it has around 1, 200 species of plants, 75 species of mammals, 450 species of birds and 56 species of reptiles that can be found here. There is some particularly good bird watching spots that include the Sam Nail Ranch and Blue Creek, in the foothills of the Chisos Mountains. You might also encounter wildlife on some of the park’s 240km of hiking trails too, which include paths amid the forested Chisos and out into the desert, to canyons, cacti, mesas and oases.

However, the best way to gorge watch is on a river trip. There are both half-day and multi-day floats on the Rio Grande that can be arranged. The park is busiest from November to April. Desert plants usually bloom late February to late April and July to August. Big Bend is 1, 050km west of Houston without a lot else nearby. If you want to make this a longer trip then maybe head north to the Grand Canyon and Vegas.

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