Traveling Ohio’s Nature Preserves
By Paola Santiago

Traveling Ohio’s Nature Preserves

Glen Helen Nature Preserve

Nature preserves in Ohio serve as important natural areas that are protected to encourage the growth of native flora and fauna. Just as stunning as our parks, these reserves offer places of study and eco-education for travelers of all ages!

Photo by Cassie Kelly

Highland Nature Preserve

A passion project owned by Arc of Appalachia, Highland Nature Preserve houses Rocky Fork Gorge, 100-foot high steep-walled canyon. This canyon features grottoes, natural springs, rock formations, and ancient white cedars! Once the site of a 20th-century nature theme park, this 2600-acre preserve is home to four different species of bats and seven caves, of which one, Marble Cave, is still open to public viewing.

Stay: Try Lodging at Highland Nature Sanctuary

Visit the preserve here.

Wahkeena Nature Preserve

Named after a Yakama Indian word meaning, “most beautiful,” Wahkeena is a true living classroom. Bought by Frank and Carmen Warner, the owners spent their lives restoring what was once farmland into the beautiful sanctuary it is today. Mrs. Warner was an avid ornithologist and gardener so with the help of her husband she planted over 100,000 trees on the hillsides of the property. Upon her death in 1956, Carmen left Wahkeena to the Ohio Historical Society, “to be used for nature study and as a preserve for birds and other wildlife.“

Stay: Try the Rock Mill Cottage

Eat: try The Well

Visit the preserve here.

Glen Helen Nature Preserve

Gifted to Antioch College, Glen Helen Nature Preserve has been a crown jewel of the Yellow Springs community since 1929. At just over a 1000 acres, Glen Helen gives visitors a short walk through 400-year-old trees, limestone cliffs, waterfalls, and the yellow spring for which the town is named. close by is also the Glen Raptor Center which rehabilitates injured wild raptors and educates about their release.

Stay: Try the Arthur Morgan House 

Eat: Try the Sunrise Cafe

Visit the preserve here.

Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve

Find 25 acres of undeveloped sand dunes along Ohio’s Lake Erie shore. This preserve helps protect wildlife and plant species that no longer migrate to this part of the state. Nearby is also the historic  Lorain West Breakwater Light, otherwise known as the “Jewel of the Port.”

Stay: Try Water’s Edge Retreat

Eat: Try the Jackalope Lakeside

Visit the preserve here.

For more information on State Nature Preserves visit the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. If you’d like to learn more about preserving Ohio’s land, air and water visit the Ohio Environmental Council.

About the Author

Paola is the social media coordinator behind Ohio. Find It Here.'s social media handles. She loves writing stories that matter, especially when they're about food and travel! You can usually find her trying out Columbus' new restaurants or experimenting with her own culinary concoctions at home. Find her living her best life on Instagram at @paolasantidc.