Pro tips on the best ways to experience the parks

A peaceful refuge, an exciting adventure, a much-needed dose of fresh air – parks are more important than ever these days.

It’s the perfect time to celebrate parks as July is the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) Park and Recreation Month. Established in 1985, Park and Recreation Month is a time to celebrate the importance of parks as well as recognize the contributions of the more than 160,000 full-time park and recreation professionals and hundreds of thousands of part-time and seasonal workers and volunteers that maintain them.

This year’s theme, “We Are Parks and Recreation,” highlights the diversity of park and recreation professionals and showcases their selfless work. With that theme in mind, a few Five Rivers MetroPark employees share their thoughts about work and play.

Allaina Gibbs-Peraza – MetroParks Visitor Services Representative

• Favorite part of your job: I really like the people I work with and making people’s day when I’m on the phone with them.

• Favorite recreational activity: I like to walk, hike and bike.

• How should people celebrate Park and Recreation Month? Getting outside your comfort zone and exploring everything you can.

Rick Musselman – Carriage Hill MetroPark Education Coordinator

• Favorite part of your job: The thing that I enjoy most about working in the parks is the diversity that each day brings. From positive visitor interactions to seeing wildlife, each day holds something different. I like that I can experience that and make it a career at the same time. But, most of all, it’s the opportunity to be outside and recharge.

• Favorite recreational activity: My favorite activity is hiking, or in some cases just taking a nice walk through the woods. I enjoy hiking but I really enjoy finding a good spot to sit and just take it all in. I find it to be very therapeutic to be able to just sit and take in the sights and sounds of nature. Sometimes you will experience some of the smallest but most remarkable aspects of nature that you would usually not see.

• How should people celebrate Park and Recreation Month? The best way to celebrate park and recreation month is to just get out in the parks and enjoy them. Take the time to visit that park that you drive by every day. Explore and find those areas of the parks that really appeal to you.

Ramon Watson – Cox Arboretum MetroPark Park Technician

• Favorite part of your job: Meeting new people and their pets as they come to the park and the variety of projects we do.

• Favorite recreational activity: Fishing, hiking, and biking.

• How should people celebrate Park and Recreation Month? People should celebrate by going to their favorite park and doing something that they have not done before. Change up the same thing every day.

Celebrate Park and Recreation Month – Suggestions from MetroParks Staff

• Register for the MetroParks Trails Challenge and visit new parks and trails. The Trails Challenge runs through Oct. 4, register at

• Take a night hike to experience nature after the sunsets. Bonus: It may be cooler outside in the evening and MetroParks are open until 10 p.m. Germantown MetroPark has the least light pollution so you are better able to see stars.

• Discover Dayton history in the parks:

— Deeds Point MetroPark – Visit a statue of Orville and Wilbur Wright at the Legacy Plaza, an aviation heritage site.

— Huffman Prairie State Natural Landmark – Learn about the importance of native prairies to the environment and wildlife while hiking this 0.2-mile trail, then visit the adjacent Wright Flying Field. Visit in late July or early August to see the prairie in peak bloom.

— Huffman MetroPark – Hike the short Huffman Lake path to view the lake created by the construction of Huffman Dam, one of five dams built after the Great Flood of 1913.

— Possum Creek MetroPark – The1.4-mile purple trail takes you through the remnants of what was once Argonne Forest Amusement Park, a 1920s destination for swimming and recreation.

— RiverScape MetroPark – Walk 0.2 miles along Monument Avenue and Patterson Boulevard to experience the Dayton Inventors Riverwalk.

— Taylorsville MetroPark – Follow the Great Miami Bikeway for one mile to see remnants of the village of Tadmore, an early 1800s site at what once was considered the Crossroads of America.

— Visit a Conservation Area: The MetroParks protect nearly 16,000 acres of land. Publicly accessible conservation areas allow parkgoers to see new, critical habitats and perhaps spot cool local wildlife. Check out Dull Woods, Woodman Fen and Medlar conservation areas to experience the natural beauty.

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