This wonderland of scenic gorges, sparkling waterfalls and breathtaking views will eliminate once and for all the notion that the Midwest is only monotonous farmland. This area in the southeastern corner of the state is a great place for bird-watching, with some 100 different species in the area, as well as for rock climbing and rappelling.
A must-see attraction is Hocking Hills State Park. Be sure to visit Ash Cave (more an amphitheater than a cave, with a small waterfall). Stand on top of the waterfall or sit on one of the "benches" underneath the falls—refreshing in the summer and an icy wonderland when temperatures dip below freezing. Also check out Cantwell Cliffs (surprisingly rugged), Cedar Falls (at the head of the gorge of Queer Creek), Old Man's Cave (waterfalls and caves) and Rock House (a strange cottage built into the cliff face). If you plan to visit a few caves, spend the night in the park. However, do not explore unfamiliar surroundings at night, as flat forest ground can quickly turn into a 40 ft/12 m drop. In the fall, the park is a great place to see the changing foliage, and if you're planning to go in January, you should make reservations for the Hocking Hills Winter Hike. The annual event takes hikers on a tour of frozen waterfalls, crystalline streams and fantastic ice bridges. The Hocking Hills Scenic Railroad, based in Nelsonville, is a train ride powered by a restored steam locomotive. The area offers a number of small shops that carry items made by local artists. Hundreds of rentable cabins are tucked away among the hilly landscape, many with fireplaces and private hot tubs on outdoor decks. It's a perfect way to watch for nocturnal wildlife when there's a full moon. If you like something a little more palatial, you might want to book a fantasy room at Ravenwood Castle. Or for a unique night, ask to stay in one of the gypsy wagons instead. 150 mi/240 km southwest of Cleveland.
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