The last wild bison were seen in Ohio more than 200 years ago, but today, there's a spot only a half-hour from downtown Columbus where you can see these giant creatures in their natural habitat. Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, located in western Franklin County, is the region's largest park, at 7,060 acres. The landscape varies from prairies to ravines, from scenic rivers and lakes to a Fort Ancient Native American mound. 18 miles of trails etch through the wilderness, offering everything from an easy stroll to a challenging trek.
Most people love Battelle Darby for its herd of six bison, which roam an 18-acre paddock, which they are helping transform back into a prairie landscape. As they browse trees and shrubs and leave...fertilizer on the ground, the landscape has started to return to the grassland it was before Ohio became a state. The giant bison - the largest weighs in at 1,200 pounds! - roam their enclosure year-round, so even in winter, you can spend an morning watching them.
The bison, relocated from the Wilds, have been on-site for about two years, and there are plans to add more members to the herd over time.
If there's a good coating of snow on the ground, Battelle Darby Creek Metropark is a great place to do some snowshoeing or cross country skiing. You can rent equipment from Columbus Outdoor Pursuits. The 18,000 square-foot nature center (hours here) is a fun place to learn more about the natural history of the area, and even has a living stream running through it!