Outdoor Advocacy

4 Awesome Parks in the Midwest (That You Probably Never Heard Of)

So you’ve found yourself in the flyover states. Whether you’re visiting family, just traveling through, horribly lost and being stalked by a sadistic family of hermits, or (gasp) you’ve just moved to the region, you’re probably getting a significant sense of boredom to go with that heaping helping of culture shock just served to you. But fear not, active outdoors person – although the Midwest isn’t exactly known for its outdoor attractions, it actually has some awesome parks, caves, crags, and all the like. There is a good chance that some really great parks are within a reasonable drive of your location. Here is a list of 4 such places.

Mammoth Cave Mammoth Cave National Park; near Brownsville, Kentucky
Believe it or not,Kentucky is home to the longest known cave system in the world. Yeah, the world. Pretty big deal. At 400 miles in length and established as a National Park in 1941, Mammoth  Cave offers just about everything an outdoor enthusiast could ask for. To go with the multitude of physical activities,Mammoth Cave also has an incredible history, dating back several thousands of years.

Red River GorgeRed River Gorge Geological Area; Slade, Kentucky
Right down the road from Mammoth Cave is Red River Gorge, which is located primarily in the Daniel Boone National Forest. Because of the sandstone cliffs and other unique features, the area has actually become one of the nation’s most popular rock climbing destinations.

CuyahogaCuyahoga Valley National Park; near Akron, Ohio
With several hiking and biking trails, including the 20-mile Towpath Trail along the old Ohio-Erie Canal,Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a great escape. For a relatively new National Park (it was technically designated a “National Recreation Area” until 2000), it has become a rather popular place.

Devil's LakeDevil’s Lake State Park; near Baraboo, Wisconsin
A part of the Ice Age National Scientific Reserve, Devil’s Lake was founded in 1911. With almost 30 miles of hiking trails, an ADA-compliant trail, and five miles of biking trails, there is plenty of ground to cover. Many prefer to leave the ground in favor of a rock face, however. While the park does not maintain specific rock climbing areas, it also doesn’t prohibit climbing. You’re on your own, daredevils.