Discover the 8 Best National Parks in New Jersey

Written by Jeremiah Wright
Updated: May 28, 2022
Image Credit ESB Professional/Shutterstock.com
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Whether you’re living in New Jersey and are planning a trip, or you want to stop in this state during your road trip, we’re here to help you!

New Jersey is situated in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States. The capital of New Jersey is Trenton. As it’s bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the south and was inhabited over the years by numerous peoples, New Jersey is full of natural, historical, and cultural treasures!

Check the list we’ve prepared to help you choose a destination that suits your plans best. From national historical parks to reserves and scenic rivers, we’re sure New Jersey will be worth visiting!

1. Thomas Edison National Historical Park

Thomas Edison National Historical Park
Thomas Edison National Historical Park preserves the residence and laboratory of Thomas Edison.

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Thomas Edison National Historical Park
LocationWest Orange, Essex County
Size21.25 acres
Attractions to seeLaboratory complex, Thomas Edison’s residence

Thomas Edison National Historical Park preserves the residence and laboratory of Thomas Edison, an American inventor and businessman. Even as a child, Thomas Edison thought about various experiments and inventions while spending all his free time at the public library. His numerous inventions in various fields, including mass communication and motion pictures, changed the course of history. This national historical park is full of exhibits that showcase Thomas Edison’s brilliant mind. 

The laboratory complex consists of approximately a dozen buildings where Edison worked on research about electricity, chemistry, metallurgy, photography, and many other fields. Edison bought the house you can now see in the park in 1886. It features the original furnishings spread across 29 rooms, Edison’s belongings, photographs, and inventions. 

You’ll find the visitor’s center at the laboratory complex. You can watch an insightful movie featuring interesting facts about Edison’s life and work there.

2. Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park

Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park
Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park is home to a variety of birds, including rock pigeons and yellow warbler.

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Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park
LocationPaterson, Passaic County
Size119 acres
Animals to spotA variety of birds, including rock pigeons and yellow warbler, groundhogs, butterflies, spiders
Attractions to seeOne of the biggest waterfalls in the U.S., other smaller waterfalls

Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park’s beauty will undoubtedly take your breath away! It features the Great Falls of the Passaic River, one of the largest waterfalls in the United States, measuring 77 feet high. There are also other smaller waterfalls in the surroundings. You can view the waterfalls from various spots:

  • Haines Overlook Park;
  • Mary Ellen Kramer Park;
  • McBride Avenue if you’re driving your car;
  • The footbridge over the Falls gorge;
  • The visitor’s center, located at the corner of McBride and Spruce avenues.

Besides being a natural gem, this national historical park is of great historical importance, as the Great Falls of the Passaic River played a crucial role in the industrial development of New Jersey.

3. Morristown National Historical Park

Morristown National Historical Park
Morristown National Historical Park protects and preserves four sites and an adjacent museum.

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Morristown National Historical Park
LocationMorristown and Hardin Township, Morris County; Bernardsville, Somerset County
Size1,711 acres
Animals to spotWhite-tail deer, red and gray squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, various species of bats, rarely coyotes, black bear, red foxes
Attractions to seeFour sites and an adjacent museum

Morristown National Historical Park protects and preserves four sites and an adjacent museum that was of utmost importance during the American Revolutionary War. It was established in 1933 and became the first national historical park in the United States. A visit to this important historical destination will definitely add some more information to what you already know about America.

The Ford Mansion site served as winter quarters for the Continental Army and for George Washington, alongside his staff, servants, and sometimes even family members. It was used in 1779, the coldest winter New Jersey ever experienced. On a guided tour that starts at Washington’s Headquarters Museum, you’ll be able to visit the Ford Mansion.

The adjacent museum, called Washington’s Headquarters Museum, features three exhibit rooms. You’ll be able to watch a video production entitled “Morristown: Where America survived.” 

4. Appalachian National Scenic Trail

Appalachian National Scenic Trail
Appalachian National Scenic Trail is a scenic hiking trail that crosses 14 states.

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Appalachian National Scenic Trail
LocationAcross New Jersey
Distance2,200 miles
Animals to spotBlack bear, white-tail deer, eastern cottontail, squirrels, white-footed mouse
Attractions to seeHiking trails, scenic views

The Appalachian National Scenic Trail is a scenic hiking trail that crosses 14 states and is approximately 2,200 miles long. The trail starts in Georgia, from Springer Mountain, and ends in Maine, on Mount Katahdin.

The trail stretches for 72.2 miles in New Jersey. It’s an easily accessible destination because it crosses various regions of the state. Here are some of the spots the trail passes through:

  • Delaware Water Gap;
  • Worthington State Forest;
  • Sunfish Pond;
  • Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area;
  • Stokes State Forest;
  • High Point State Park;
  • Wawayanda State Park;
  • Abram S. Hewitt State Forest.

If you’re ready to embark on a truly fantastic adventure and a lifetime experience, the Appalachian National Scenic Trail is your choice! Don’t forget that camping is only allowed in specially arranged places.

5. New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve

New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve
LocationSouthern New Jersey
Size1,164,025 acres
Animals to spotBald eagles, red-tailed hawks, peregrine falcons, screech owls, white-tail deer, black bear
Attractions to seeBass River State Forest, Penn State Forest, Double Trouble State Park

New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve preserves the largest remaining ecosystem of Atlantic coastal pine barrens. It was established in 1978 and became one of the first national reserves in the United States.

Recreational facilities can be found in designated areas, some of which are Bass River State Forest, Penn State Forest, and Double Trouble State Park.

Oak-pine forests, historic villages, and areas full of various species of plants and animals are all at your disposal in this huge national reserve. The reserve hosts over 580 types of plants; 54 of them are endangered; almost 300 species of birds, around 60 species of reptiles and amphibians, 90 species of fish, and around 40 species of mammals – now that’s a real natural treasure!

6. Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is located in the middle section of the Delaware River.

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Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
LocationNew Jersey, Pennsylvania
Size66,741 acres
Animals to spotWhite-tail deer, wild turkeys, foxes, coyotes, owls, bats, bobcats
Attractions to seeWaterfalls, farms, scenic views, hiking trails

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area should definitely be on your list of places to visit in New Jersey. It is located in the middle section of the Delaware River that flows along the Appalachian Mountains. There are around ten waterfalls and other tourist attractions worth seeing, including farms, houses, and churches. Imagine how spectacular the views are in this area!

Besides being a beautiful destination itself, there are also many recreational activities you can keep yourself busy with. If you’re a hiking enthusiast, over 100 miles of hiking trails are at your disposal. Twenty-seven miles of these trails cross the Appalachian Trail. Canoeing and kayaking are allowed if you want to extend your stay, no worries! There’s a campground where you can enjoy the rest of your trip. 

Some white-tail deer and wild turkeys may join you and your companions while looking for food!

7. Great Egg Harbor National Scenic and Recreational River

Great Egg Harbor National Scenic and Recreational River
LocationSouthern New Jersey
Size55 miles
Animals to spotStriped bass, alewife herring
Recreational activitiesHiking, biking, boating, camping, fishing, hunting

The Great Egg Harbor River flows 59 miles from Berlin City to the Atlantic Ocean at Great Egg Harbor. Tourists can paddle the river from New Brooklyn to Beesley’s Point. It crosses the New Jersey Pine Barrens, so the views you’ll stumble upon on your journey will surprise your eyes!

The unique feature of this area is the tea-colored water that gets its color from the substances found in cedar leaves fallen in the river. Other plants that can be spotted along the way include red maple and tupelo trees. Tourists can bike, fish, boat, camp, hike, or hunt in the area.

8. Gateway National Recreation Area

Gateway National Recreation Area
Gateway National Recreation Area offers numerous recreational activities and sites to visit.

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Gateway National Recreation Area
LocationEastern New Jersey
Size26,607 acres
Animals to spotWhite-tail deer, foxes, harbor seals, raccoons, muskrat
Recreational activitiesBird watching, bike, fish, camp, picnic, swim

Gateway National Recreation Area welcomes over ten million visitors every year. It’s a popular tourist destination because it offers numerous recreational activities and sites to visit.

There are 11 park sites and three units where people can spot various species of birds, bike, fish, camp, picnic, enjoy beautiful views of New York Harbor and the Manhattan skyline, swim in the ocean, or just relax on the beach sand.

Sandy Hook Unit is located in Monmouth County, New Jersey, and has seven beaches, salt marshes, and a maritime holly forest. Visitors can also fish in the Sandy Hook Unit. With so many sites and units, we recommend you stay at least two days to savor the full beauty of this recreation area!

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