Nature & Science

An aerial view of the Cuyahoga River winding through deciduous forest in summer.
The Cuyahoga River winds its way through Cuyahoga Valley National Park.


The Cuyahoga River Valley

Twenty-five miles of the Cuyahoga River wind and weave through the Cuyahoga Valley, forming the backbone of Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The river, with its associated riparian habitat, is just one element of the park’s habitat mosaic. From deciduous mixed-mesophytic forests to wetland habitats, from currently cultivated agricultural lands to older field habitats in various stages of succession, the park’s habitats provide opportunities for plants and animals to flourish.

Over 900 plant species are found in the park, as well as over 200 species of birds, 91 aquatic macroinvertebrates, 43 fish, 32 mammals, 22 amphibians, and 20 species of reptiles. Read about how our scientists inventory and monitor species to build a strong scientific foundation for the management and protection of natural resources in the park.

The national park is much more than a list of species. It contains a truly unique physical environment, formed by the mingling of two diverse geographic regions—the Appalachian Plateau and the Central Lowlands—modified by the comings and goings of multiple glaciations. High above the Cuyahoga River, the landscape is rugged, with steep-sided valleys backed by high, narrow hills. Closely spaced ravines funnel tributaries, some of which drop up to 600 feet in a distance of only a few miles, toward the crooked river.

A river otter stands on dirt facing the camera. Dry brown grasses surround them with water behind.

Discover what animals call Cuyahoga Valley home.

Light pink flowers sprout high from their green leafy stem. A dark green forest contrasts them.

Learn about the different plant species, able to survive in the park’s diverse habitats.

A rocky, low flow creek cuts through a forest with sparse, new growth spring trees and undergrowth.
Environmental Factors

The parks proximity to urban areas, long history of use, and high visitation make it vulnerable to a variety of environmental concerns.

Two big trees grow on a hill, closer and bigger in size. They are surrounded by a rich green forest.
Natural Features & Ecosystems

Learn more about the ecosystems and natural features in the park.

Two woman stand above a table, holding plant material. The table is covered in more plant material.
Inventory & Monitoring

Inventory and monitoring builds a strong scientific foundation for the management and protection of natural resources in national parks.


Natural History Topics

Learn about the spectacular wildlife, botanical, and astronomical observations occurring each month.

A Poetic Inventory

The National Park Service and the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park have a long standing partnership with the Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University. Our current collaboration is a Poetic Inventory of all the life forms that make our park their home. This project was inspired by the 2016 Bioblitz held in Cuyahoga Valley as part of the National Park Service Centennial.

Science and Research in National Parks

Last updated: November 22, 2023

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

15610 Vaughn Road
Brecksville, OH 44141


440 717-3890

Contact Us