Article Summary: National Parks Near Newark
National Parks Near Newark. We’ve got eleven incredible national park sites for you to see on your next visit to The Garden State.
I’m a native New Yorker who’s spent plenty of time next door in the beautiful garden state of New Jersey.
I’ve been to so many of these amazing places since retiring from teaching in 2018. Did I mention that I taught history? I spent a lifetime teaching about the history behind these momentous sites. Then I got to see them firsthand. And now I’m sharing the stories of these incredible places with you. It doesn’t get any better than that!
Did you know that Newark is the Garden State’s largest city? Newark is also the cultural center of the state, offering endless arts and entertainment options.
The nation’s third oldest city, Newark, is one of the leading historic spots in the Northeast, renowned as the most culturally affluent region in New Jersey.
And let’s not forget about those fabulous national parks that are a day’s drive (or less) from the city.
So, What Is A National Park?
We get asked that question a lot because there’s a difference between a “national park” and a “national park site.” To help you understand that difference you might want to check out our article titled: What Is A National Park Really?
If you’re planning a trip to the Newark area then one book that I highly recommend is: A Walking Tour of Newark, New Jersey by Doug Gelbert.
Now let’s go ahead with 11 reasons why you’ll want to hop in your car and make a day’s drive from downtown Newark to one of these truly amazing places.
Table Of Contents: National Parks Near Newark
National Parks Near Newark
- National Parks Near Newark
- More National Parks Near Newark
- Still More National Parks Near Newark
- National Parks Near Newark FAQ
- Meet The Parks Brothers
- We Hope You’ll Follow Our Journey
National Parks Near Newark
1. Appalachian National Scenic Trail
Distance From Newark: The journey time between Newark and Appalachian Trail Station is around 3 hours & 54 minutes. It covers a distance of around 79 miles.
The Appalachian National Scenic Trail (AT) is a 2,190-mile long hiking trail that runs from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine.
It was first conceptualized by Benton MacKaye in 1921, and was officially completed in 1937 after more than a decade of work by volunteers and the Civilian Conservation Corps.
The trail was designated as the first National Scenic Trail by the National Trails System Act of 1968, and has since become one of the most popular and well-known long-distance hiking trails in the world, attracting millions of visitors every year.
Over the years, the AT has been maintained and protected by various organizations, including the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, which was established in 1925.
Things To Do
The Appalachian National Scenic Trail (AT) is a popular destination for outdoor recreation, including:
- Hiking: The AT is primarily used for long-distance hiking, with thousands of people hiking the entire trail or sections of it each year.
- Camping: There are many camping opportunities along the AT, including designated campsites, shelters, and backcountry camping.
- Scenic views: The AT offers stunning scenic views of the Appalachian Mountains, forests, and countryside.
- Wildlife watching: The AT passes through a variety of habitats, providing opportunities to see a wide range of wildlife, including birds, deer, black bears, and other animals.
- Rock climbing: Some areas along the AT, particularly in New England, offer opportunities for rock climbing and bouldering.
- Fishing: There are many streams and rivers along the AT that offer fishing opportunities for trout and other species.
- Snow sports: In winter, some parts of the AT are popular for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and sledding.
2. Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
Distance From Newark: 55 minutes via I-80 W.
The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is a protected area located in the states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. It is situated along the Delaware River and covers over 70,000 acres of land.
The Delaware Water Gap is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts due to its scenic beauty, abundant recreational opportunities, and rich cultural and historical significance.
The park offers a variety of recreational activities such as hiking, camping, fishing, boating, and wildlife viewing. There are over 150 miles of trails, including the famous Appalachian Trail, which passes through the park.
The Delaware River is a major attraction within the park, offering opportunities for boating, fishing, and rafting. The park also features several historic sites, including the historic Delaware Canal, which dates back to the late 1700s and was once used for transportation and commerce.
The park’s diverse landscape is home to a wide variety of plant and animal species, including over 200 species of birds and numerous species of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. The park’s forests, wetlands, and meadows provide important habitat for wildlife and help to maintain the delicate balance of the ecosystem.
Check Out: 4 AMAZING Delaware National Parks
3. Ellis Island
Distance From Newark: 25 minutes via I-78 E.
America is a national of immigrants and their history often began at Ellis Island. Among the New York National Parks, this one symbolizes America’s historical role as a land of opportunity for peoples of other nations.
Ellis Island is an island in New York Harbor that served as an immigration station from 1892 to 1954. During this period, it was the busiest immigration station in the United States, processing more than 12 million immigrants as they arrived in the country.
The island was named after Samuel Ellis, a colonial-era landowner, and it was first used as an immigration station in 1892. The federal government acquired the island in 1890 and began construction on the main building, which opened in 1892.
Check Out: 10 BEST National Parks In New York City
It Was A Large, Imposing Building
The main building on Ellis Island was a large, imposing structure that housed the various processing and examination areas for incoming immigrants. The process of being inspected and cleared for entry to the United States could take several hours or even days, and many immigrants were detained on the island for medical or legal reasons. The island also had facilities for temporary housing, hospitals, and a detention center.
Ellis Island was the main point of entry for millions of immigrants to the United States, particularly from southern and eastern Europe, until the 1920s, when the federal government implemented quotas that greatly restricted the number of immigrants allowed into the country.
The island continued to be used as a processing center for immigrants and as a detention center for those deemed inadmissible, but its role diminished over time.
In 1954, the immigration station on Ellis Island was closed and it was transferred to the control of the National Park Service, which opened it to the public as a museum in 1990.
Today, the Ellis Island Immigration Museum is one of the most visited tourist destinations in New York City, and it is a National Monument and a part of Statue of Liberty National Monument.
Things To Do
Ellis Island is now a museum and a National Park that offers a variety of things to do, including:
- Tour the Main Building: Visitors can tour the restored main building, which houses the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration. The museum includes exhibits, artifacts, and interactive displays that tell the story of immigration to the United States.
- Explore the Grounds: Visitors can stroll around the grounds and gardens of Ellis Island, taking in the views of the Statue of Liberty and New York Harbor.
- Genealogy Research: The museum has a vast collection of immigrant records, making it a popular destination for genealogy research.
- Audio Tour: Visitors can take an audio tour of the museum and the grounds, learning about the history of the island and the immigrant experience.
- Ferry Ride: Visitors can take a ferry ride to and from the island, enjoying views of the Statue of Liberty and New York Harbor along the way.
- Special Programs and Events: Ellis Island hosts a variety of special programs and events throughout the year, including guided tours, educational programs, and cultural events.
4. Gateway National Recreation Area
Distance From Newark: 32 minutes via I-278 E.
Spanning 27,000 acres from Sandy Hook in New Jersey to Breezy Point in New York City, Gateway National Recreation Area is both the gateway from the ocean into New York Harbor, and the gateway to the National Park Service for millions of visitors every year. Gateway offers green spaces and beaches alongside historic structures and cultural landscapes.
There’s so much to see and so much to do at this magnificent recreation area.
Outdoor Activities At Gateway
Outdoor activities at Gateway include the following:
- Archery: The Floyd Bennett Field archery range is open from daily between Feb. 1 and Nov. 30, and closed from Dec. 1 through Jan. 31. You must have a permit for archery.
- Bicycling: Bicycling is a great way to see Gateway National Recreation Area. There are multi-use paths and greenways in all three units of the park. Class 1 and Class 2 E-bikes are also allowed on routes open to traditional bicycles throughout Gateway.
- Bird Watching: Gateway hosts more than 325 species of birds. Some are migratory, others are here year-round. If you’re new to birding there are programs for beginners at both the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and Sandy Hook.
- Boating: Hand-launched privately-owned small boats (canoes, kayaks, and rowboats) may be launched from various sites around the park. These sites include (but are not limited to) Floyd Bennett Field’s seaplane ramp, kayak launchs at North Channel Bridge, Riis Landing and Canarsie Pier and Beach Area C and Horseshoe Cove in Sandy Hook. (Source: NPS)
But Wait, There’s More
We’re not finished with all of the wonderful outdoor activities. If we haven’t found one that’s for you then how about the following:
- Camping: Up to four people may camp at a single site. Larger families and groups will need to reserve multiple camp sites. Sites are large enough for one large tent or two small tents. Capacity may be reduced for safety considerations. Fourteen nights is the maximum stay.
- Fishing: Saltwater fishing is the only type of fishing allowed at Gateway.
- Running & Walking: There are paths to run in each of the units. and both Great Kills and Sandy Hook have multi use paths.
- Swimming: Lifeguards are on duty at Great Kills Park, Jacob Riis Park and Sandy Hook from 10 am to 6 pm through Labor Day. There will be no lifeguards after Labor Day. Swiming is only allowed at lifeguarded beaches while lifeguards are on duty. (Source: NPS)
Indoor Activities At Gateway
Indoor areas offer a great way to escape the outdoor weather and to learn more about the park areas. There are vistitor centers in all three units of Gateway that feature hands-on exhibits, bookstores, and rangers or volunteers available to answer questions. Click on each location below to learn about the facilities in each area.
The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and Sandy Hook Visitor Centers are open on Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm. All other visitor centers, history houses, and ranger stations remain closed at this time. Visitor centers, history houses, and ranger stations are closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.
Check Out: 18 SURPRISING Massachusetts National Parks
More National Parks Near Newark
5. Great Egg River Harbor
Distance From Newark: One hour & 56 minutes via Garden State Parkway.
Imagine a river system which picks up the waters of 17 tributaries on its way to Great Egg Harbor and the Atlantic Ocean.
Established by Congress in 1992, nearly all of this 129-mile river system rests within the Pinelands National Reserve.
Activities along this magnificent river include: Backpacking, Biking, Bird Watching, Boating, Camping, Fishing, Hiking, Hunting, Kayaking, Nature Walks, Stargazing, and Wildlife Viewing.
Check Out: 10 EPIC Ohio National Parks Worth Visiting
6. Lower Delaware National Wild & Scenic River
Distance From Newark: Many routes lead to Lower Delaware National Wild & Scenic River. The good news is that it’s only a two-to-three-hour drive from New York City, and a similar distance from Newark and Philadelphia. (Source: Scenic Wild Delaware River)
As a retired history teacher and a lifelong history buff I love a good story. And the Lower Delaware National Wild & Scenic River has got one!
It’s the largest free-flowing river in the eastern United States. The Delaware River runs past forests, farmlands, and villages, and it also links some of the most densely populated regions in America.
I spent four years as a child living in Easton, Pennsylvania and fished every summer along the banks of this mighty river.
There’s History Too
I loved teaching about the Revolutionary War and one of my favorite battles was the one George Washington fought after his historic crossing of the Delaware River.
During the summer and autumn of 1776, the Continental Army under George Washington suffered a string of defeats in New York and northern New Jersey, necessitating the army’s retreat across the Delaware River to Pennsylvania.
Faced with expiring enlistments and plagued by inadequate supplies, on Christmas Day, 1776, Washington led 2,000 troops in a bold crossing of the Delaware River. Early the next morning, the Continental Army attacked the surprised Hessian garrison. Nearly 1,000 Hessians were captured, along with their cannon and supplies.
You can visit Washington’s historic crossing at Washington’s Crossing, N.J. and Washington’s Crossing, PA.
7. Morristown National Historical Park
Distance From Newark: 30 minutes via I-78 W & NJ-24 W.
Morristown National Historical Park commemorates the sites of General Washington and the Continental army’s winter encampment of December 1779 to June 1780, where they survived through what would be the coldest winter on record.
The park also maintains a museum & library collection related to the encampments & George Washington, as well as items relating to pre- and post-Revolutionary America.
I recommend visiting the Washington Headquarters Museum. Points of interest there include: the American Style Gallery, Military Galley, Lloyd W. Smith Gallery and Ford Mansion.
It’s not just about the history however. This is a place where history and nature come together. Outdoor activities include:
- Hiking: The park contains roughly 27 miles of designated, marked, hiking trails. The 2.25 mile Yellow Trail connects the key historic and interpretive sites throughout Jockey Hollow. The White Trail/Grand Loop Trail is the longest trail in Jockey Hollow at 6.5 miles in total. Other hiking trails include the Blue Trail, 3 miles roundtrip, that has the best view from on top of Mt. Kemble.
- Biking: Bicycles are only allowed on the 3 mile long paved Tour Road. Off trail biking is not allowed in the park.
- Bird Watching: Many species of birds have been observed within the park. Some of the best areas to observe birds include the Wick House Orchard and in meadows throughout the park.
- Horseback Riding: Approximately 10.5 miles of designated horse trails are available to riders. (Source: NPS)
8. New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve
Distance From Newark: One hour & 14 minutes via I-95 S.
The New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve is a unique and ecologically important area located in southern New Jersey. It is a designated National Reserve, a National Natural Landmark, and a United Nations International Biosphere Reserve.
Here’s a brief overview of its history and features:
- Geography: The Pinelands is a sprawling area of pine forests, wetlands, and coastal plains, stretching across over 1 million acres of land.
- Ecology: The Pinelands is home to a rich variety of plant and animal life, including many species that are unique to the area.
- History: The Pinelands has been inhabited by humans for thousands of years, and was a hub of commercial activity in the 1700s and 1800s.
- Protection: In 1978, the New Jersey Pinelands Commission was created to oversee the preservation and management of the Pinelands, and in 1979, the Pinelands National Reserve was established.
- Recreational opportunities: The Pinelands offers a wide range of recreational opportunities, including hiking, bird-watching, fishing, boating, and camping.
Today, the New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve is an important part of the state’s natural and cultural heritage, and is widely recognized for its ecological significance and recreational value.
Still More National Parks Near Newark
9. Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park
Distance From Newark: 23 minutes via Garden State Parkway.
New Jersey played an integral part in America’s Industrial Revolution. In 1792, Paterson was established. It was America’s first planned industrial city, which centered around the Great Falls of the Passaic River.
Visitors can take self-guided outdoor tours. Here you will find a National Natural Landmark, the Great Falls of the Passaic River.
There’s also a National Engineering Landmark. A walk through Upper Raceway Park takes visitors along the beginning of the raceway system and past just a few of the many mills that benefitted from it.
These raceways that were built in the late 18th- and early 19th-centuries, to take advantage of the nearby water power, were engineering marvels.
10. Thomas Edison National Historical Park
Distance From Newark: 13 minutes via I-280 W.
How many national parks can boast a place which celebrates a wizard? I can only think of one-Thomas Edison National Historical Park. Of course the wizard in question would be the Wizard of Menlo Park.
That’s the name which was given to man who brought the magic of electricity into peoples homes. Of course, he did far more than that.
One of the most famous and prolific inventors of all time, Thomas Alva Edison exerted a tremendous influence on modern life, contributing inventions such as the incandescent light bulb, the phonograph, and the motion picture camera, as well as improving the telegraph and telephone.
Things To Do
Visitors can tour the following visitor facility buildings at the Laboratory Complex and Glenmont Estate Grounds:
- Visitor Center (Building 1) which includes the park orientation film and the museum store.
- Main Laboratory Building (Building 5) which includes Thomas Edison’s library, machine shops, music room, and other exhibits.
- Glenmont Greenhouse where volunteers from the Short Hills Garden Club and park volunteers care for a variety of exotic plants like those grown by the Edisons’.
- Glenmont Garage which contains Thomas Edison’s historic vehicles. (Source: NPS)
Learn More About The Wizard Of Menlo Park
One of the things that I love about researching and writing these articles is learning things I didn’t know. Hopefully, you, too, will learn things you didn’t know. For instance, did you know:
- In his youth, Thomas Edison built a chemistry lab on a train. Originally, he was selling candies and newspapers on the Grand Trunk Railroad. He then decided to set up a chemistry lab on the train. Not only that, but he build a printing press for his newspaper which he called
- Thomas Edison’s first invention was a vote-counting machine. Representatives could flip a switch and have their votes tallied electronically. Politicians didn’t like the idea, however, because it gave them no time for backroom deals. So much for election integrity!
- A museum claims to own Thomas Edison’s dying breath. The Henry Ford Museum, in Dearborn, Michigan, claims to have a test tube which contains Thomas Edison’s last breath.
To learn more about this extraordinary inventor, I recommend two excellent biographies:
One is Edison by Edmund Morris.
The other is The Wizard of Menlo Park: How Thomas Alva Edison Invented the Modern World by Randall E. Stross.
11. Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail
We have arrived at the last of the New Jersey National Parks on our list!
George Washington’s ultimate success against the British was made possible through an alliance with France.
On July 11, 1780, 55-year-old General Jean Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau arrived with an army of 450 officers and 5,300 men in Narragansett Bay off Newport, Rhode Island.
From New Hampshire to Virginia, the Washington-Rochambeau National Historic Trail connects major metropolitan areas, state and national parks, historic and scenic trails, and countless other historic sites.
The rout is a 680-mile series of roads used in 1781 by the Continental Army under the command of George Washington and the forces under the command of Admiral Rochambeau during their 14-week march from Newport, Rhode Island, to Yorktown, Virginia.
Check Out: 10 BEST Revolutionary War Sites In America
National Parks Near Newark FAQ
It’s home to the largest collection of cherry blossom trees in the United States, surpassing the more famous display in Washington, D.C. in both quantity and many would say in its beauty, with the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart as a stunning backdrop.
Newark is a transportation centre and a major East Coast distributing point. Newark International Airport is one of the world’s busiest, since it serves both Newark and the New York City area. The Port of Newark, started in 1915, is now leased and operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Why Trust Us About National Parks Near Newark?
We’re Jim Pattiz and Will Pattiz, collectively known as the Pattiz Brothers (and sometimes the Parks Brothers) and we absolutely LOVE the national parks.
You should probably know that we don’t just make this stuff up out of thin air. We’ve spent our entire adult lives exploring and filming America’s national parks and public lands.
We’ve worked with the National Park Service, the Department of Interior, USDA, and the U.S. Forest Service for years creating films on important places and issues. Our work has been featured in leading publications all over the world and even some people outside of our immediate family call us experts on the national parks.
Meet The Parks Brothers
Map Of National Parks Near Newark
List Of National Parks Near Newark
- Appalachian National Scenic Trail
- Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
- Ellis Island
- Gateway National Recreation Area
- Great Egg Harbor River
- Lower Delaware National Wild & Scenic River
- Morristown National Historical Park
- New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve
- Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park
- Thomas Edison National Historical Park
- Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail
We Hope You’ll Follow Our Journey
Our goal here at More Than Just Parks is to share the beauty of America’s national parks and public lands through stunning short films in an effort to get Americans and the world to see the true value in land conservation.
We hope you’ll follow our journey through the parks and help us to keep them the incredible places that they are. If you’re interested in joining the adventure then sign up below!