Lately, I had been trying to get the most out of my hometown and surrounding areas before I spend my summer in Oberlin. Even though I’ve lived in El Paso my whole life, it’s made me realize how much of it and the surrounding areas I hadn’t explored yet. Just this past week I visited the Guadalupe Mountains National Park about two hours away (even though the original plan was Sitting Bull Falls, but that’s not the point). The drive there reminded me of nature’s nearby treasures including White Sands, Red Sands, and Carlsbad Caverns! Yes, I live in a super dry desert that’s very different from Northeast Ohio in case that has not been made clear yet, but I think that’s what makes me especially appreciate Oberlin and its surrounding areas. Even though Oberlin is about 30 minutes from Cleveland, it’s also surrounded by the beauty of nature! The Arb is about a 15 minute walk from Tappan Square and truly makes you feel like you’ve left town to be surrounded by nature with a beautiful view of a pond and various trees and plants. If you happen to have the resources or know someone who does (ahem, a car or other form of transportation), there are plenty of nearby sights to see! I have included links that can give more information if you’d like to look further into any of these places. If you’re actually from Ohio, you probably know some more natural sites or can better describe the ones I’ve listed, so feel free to leave a comment or let me know how these places are. I have not visited all of these locations, so be mindful of what kind of precautions you may need to take and that weather may be a factor in the accessibility of these locations, but I’m excited to take a look at the places I haven’t been yet and I intend to finish my list before it gets cold this year!
Cuyahoga Valley National Park - Less than an hour’s drive away and has Brandywine Falls, a waterfall over 60 feet tall, located within it. No entry fee, but the national park is fairly large, so I would plan on bringing snacks and making sure you have a few hours of free time so you can explore the national park and see its beautiful views. There’s incredible biodiversity and a river running through it as well. If you collect National Park stamps, or just want to support our National Park Services in general, I would definitely check it out!
Common Ground Canopy Tour - I’m not going to lie, the TripAdvisor reviews sold me. It takes little more than 10 minutes driving to arrive, so distance is not much of an issue. This activity is on the pricier side due to the equipment that is provided and the safety measures in place, so this might be an end of semester excursion to relax during finals season once my friends and I have put away a little bit of money. If you’re not afraid of heights and you love an adrenaline rush, this might be a place for you.
Edgewater Beach - For a little spice in your life (and time away from campus), pack or buy dinner, especially from a local spot, and eat on the beach while you watch the sunset. If you want your life to feel like a movie for a moment, dinner on the beach at sunset is just perfect. *chef’s kiss*. The drive is right under 45 minutes and is about 10 minutes from downtown Cleveland. The park above the beach is grassy and still has a beautiful view of the horizon and the Cleveland skyline if sand isn’t your thing, and there’s parking by the park as well. Since it’s a metropark, it’s free to visit, I would just bring a little bit of cash in case a vendor comes by or last minute plans follow your beach excursion.
Rocky River Reservation - At this point it might be a bit obvious that anything in nature that includes a body of water makes me excited to visit, but that doesn’t mean the Rocky River Reservation isn’t beautiful. A 30 minute drive away to a reservation that has a river running through it and a waterfall as well. I have not tried renting a kayak so I’m not sure how that experience is (mostly because I don’t know how to use one), but kayak rentals are available if that is something that interests you. If you like fishing, I’ve heard it's a pretty good place to fish as well!
Though I know I haven’t exhausted the list of trails and views in the area, I think this list is already long enough to keep me busy this summer. Once I finish visiting these spots, I’ll have to keep exploring and make a part two! I’ll definitely take more photos so I can include a photo gallery in my next post. Remember to stay safe and go with friends if you plan on visiting any of these sites, but ultimately have fun and enjoy your time in nature. If you’re not from the area, take in as much as you can while you’re here. Until next time.