Love the outdoors? Explore miles of wilds in New Jersey.
Rolling hills, dense pine forests, gentle green mountains, sparkling streams, white-sand beaches—where can you find such a diverse natural landscape within an hour’s drive in any direction? Hello, New Jersey! Summer’s always a great time for outdoor recreation, and the Garden State’s millions of open-air acres beckon explorers, campers, anglers and nature lovers to spend their days in the sun and nights under the stars.
Tell stories around the campfire.
Practice your campfire songs, pick up the fixings for s’mores and let’s go camping! More families are discovering the benefits of camping vacations: reduced stress, fresh air and wholesome family time. Whether you like roughing it or prefer the trendier “glamping” experience, New Jersey’s scenic campgrounds, RV resorts and state parks will have you howling for more—especially at Camp Taylor, where your neighbor is the pack at the Lakota Wolf Preserve, the Northeast’s largest wolf preserve.
Within New Jersey’s own system of parks and forests, you can reserve a cabin at High Point, a shelter at Jenny Jump, a pet-friendly campsite at Wharton and even a yurt at Swartswood, New Jersey’s first state park (established in 1914). Picturing a traditional campsite? Look into Cheesequake, which bridges two ecosystems and is just minutes from the Garden State Parkway. Ready to take a break from the grid? You can only access the wilderness camping at Round Valley by foot or boat. Want to make your campout a little more educational? Combine outdoor activities with a history lesson at Allaire, site of the historic 19th-century iron-making town.
Live out your favorite outdoor adventure.
Trailblazers of all kinds can find their path to adventure in New Jersey—from steep trails to rugged singletracks. Take in stunning views and navigate a waterfall on the challenging Peanut Leap Trail at Palisades Interstate Park or mountain vistas along a section of the Appalachian Trail at Wawayanda State Park. Want to hit the trail on two wheels? Ride 40+ miles of trails at Mountain Creek Bike Park or pedal along the beach on the Sandy Hook Trail at Gateway National Recreation Area.
Ever feel the urge to run wild in the woods? Then trail running is for you! This sport is gaining popularity and is the perfect way to combine a great workout with an adrenaline rush. A good place to start is Six Mile Run Trail, part of the Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park, where you can also find several spots to launch a canoe or kayak on the Delaware River. Another popular place to canoe is the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, which celebrates its golden anniversary in 2015. Plan an overnight canoe trip and camp along the banks of the river. First come, first served!
Of course, it makes sense that New Jersey, headquarters of the U.S. Equestrian Team, offers plenty of options for horseback riding. Giddyup and go to one of the stables throughout the state or hoof it over to Allamuchy Mountain State Park, offering 14 miles of marked and 20 miles of unmarked trails for riders, hikers and mountain bikers.
Share a fish tale or two.
New Jersey lakes, streams and rivers are an angler’s dream, not to mention the biggest “fishing pond” of all—130 miles of Atlantic coastline. Bass to bluefish, sport fishing to fly fishing, freshwater to saltwater, charter boat or kayak—NJ offers the whole gamut of fishing experiences. A favorite among locals is Island Beach State Park, where anglers can request permits to take four-wheel-drive vehicles onto the beach for surf fishing. Another place to wet a line is Hacklebarney State Park, which features excellent year-round stream fishing and abundant Brown, Brook and Rainbow Trout.
Learn more by visiting the official website of New Jersey's State Parks, Forests and Historic Sites and seeking out the National Park Service for locations in New Jersey.