National Park Week begins this weekend – but officials at Cuyahoga Valley National Park hope visitors celebrate a little differently this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Over the past month, the CVNP has closed several attractions including the Brandywine Falls boardwalk and the Boston Mills visitor center. They found people were bombarding the popular spots and social distancing was either impossible or ignored.
Park spokeswoman Pamela Barnes says one way to help is to be flexible and perhaps explore different parts of the CVNP.
“Think about changing your expectations. If you pull into a parking lot and you see that everybody else had the same idea, do your part, stay in your car, [and] go someplace else. That is the best way that you can help.”
Barnes says they are recommending alternative attractions and parking areas to avoid crowding. One of them is Howe Meadow, which is usually only open for special events.
“There’s a large open field, you can throw a Frisbee, fly a kite, let the kids run around, [or] do a loop around Indigo Lake. Another large parking lot that we’re suggesting is the Canal Exploration Center in Valley View. Although that attraction is closed, it is a fairly large parking lot that you can access the Towpath Trail.”
Barnes adds that visitors can call the park’s information line (440-546-5960) to find out about temporary closures, both during the pandemic and generally when areas have to be closed due to flooding.
And with all restrooms closed – partly to protect the custodial staff – visitors should be prepared to use portable restrooms. Or even better, Barnes recommends people go at home before they go to the park.