New Jersey is home to over 50 beautiful state parks, forests, and other protected areas. This means that there's an abundance of great nature destinations located throughout the northern and southern parts of the state. Whether you want to learn more about the state's history, explore hiking and biking trails, or just relax by a lake we've rounded up the best state parks across New Jersey.
Ringwood State Park
Encompassing nearly 5,000 beautiful acres in Passaic County, Ringwood State Park is a popular destination in Northwestern New Jersey. Plan to spend an entire day here, because, in addition to hiking trails, picnicking, boating, and lovely views, guests can tour two exquisite mansions: Ringwood Manor and Skylands Manor. You can also meander through colorful formal gardens, which are especially beautiful in the springtime. There’s a lot to do here, so be sure to start at the visitor’s center to plan your time accordingly.
Voorhees State Park
Nestled in Northern New Jersey, Voorhees State Park is a stunning destination for hiking, biking, and enjoying scenic views. This state park features several multi-use trails that traverse the area, that range from easy to difficult (and an exercise “par course” for those with disabilities), so be sure to research which ones are for your level. Stargazers especially love this park, as the park is home to an observatory with the Cassegrain reflector—known as the largest working accessible telescope in the state. Check out the programs offered by the NJ Astronomical Association before visiting.
Liberty State Park
Considered the most-visited park in the state, Liberty State Park in Northern New Jersey attracts nearly 5 million visitors each year. The location can’t be beat, as the picturesque Hudson River and the Manhattan skyline are the backdrop for this pretty park with over 1,200 acres that feature nature trails, picnic areas, a playground, and a 2-mile-long promenade called Liberty Walk. While visiting, don’t miss the “Empty Sky” 9/11 memorial to those who died on September 11, 2001.
Monmouth Battlefield State Park
If you’re seeking some New Jersey revolutionary war history, Monmouth Battlefield State Park is definitely the park to visit! Located in Manalapan, this park was the site of one of the most significant battles during the Revolutionary War. At nearly 2,000 acres, this park has an interpretive center and hosts battle re-enactments. The landscape is reminiscent of the 18th century, with rolling hills, open fields, and even a restored Revolutionary War-era farmhouse that allows visitors to step back in time. Guests to this park can also enjoy hiking, biking, horseback riding, and other outdoor activities.
Parvin State Park
Have you ever wanted to visit the famous Southern New Jersey pine barrens? Parvin State Park is home to beautiful and diverse terrain including marshlands and dense forests. During the warmer months, guests can see over 200 diverse species of colorful flowering plants. You’re guaranteed to see wildlife here, as this area is home to hawks, deer, fox, owls, and many migratory birds. You can swim in Parvin Lake, enjoy the playground, and even have a picnic, as there are barbecue grills and restrooms for visitors to use.
High Point State Park
At over 16,000 acres, High Point State Park is located in New Jersey’s Sussex County and offers a wide array of activities for those seeking adventures outside, including bird watching and cross-country skiing. Most visitors here are focused on admiring the views from High Point Monument, which is situated at 2,000 feet above sea level. From here, you get a jaw-dropping of three states (including Pennsylvania and New York) that stretches beyond the Delaware River and includes massive farmlands, wooded areas, and pristine valleys.
Island Beach State Park
Island Beach State Park draws beach lovers all year long. Situated on a 10-mile barrier island, this park is home to unparalleled ocean access, picturesque dunes, and extensive amenities during the summer season. There are lifeguards, picnic areas, restrooms, a snack bar with casual and basic beachy treats, and a restaurant. Those seeking a more secluded experience can choose one of the beaches further afield and enjoy some tranquil beach time.
Allaire State Park
Most people visit Allaire State Park to see the park’s historic Allaire Village, a well-known iron-making town that experienced its heyday in the 19th century. Visitors also love to see the Pine Creek Railroad and its antique steam trains that ride along the tracks. Hikers will enjoy the numerous trails while the beautiful Manasquan River, which flows through the park, attracts kayakers and boaters all year long.
Barnegat Lighthouse State Park
Barnegat Light is the northernmost beach town on Long Beach Island. The town is home to the Barnegat Lighthouse, a well-known shore landmark that’s also known to locals as “Old Barney.” The New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail runs through this park—and history buffs can learn about local lore, and walk along a flat pathway next to the ocean. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can climb the stairs to the top of the lighthouse and be smitten with the ocean views.
Cheesequake State Park
With nearly 2,000 sprawling acres, Cheesequake State Park is a unique destination in New Jersey as it is located between two transitional climate zones. This means visitors get to experience two diverse ecosystems with a bounty of terrain. Here, you can explore both the pine barrens as well as dense wooded forested areas – and both fresh and saltwater marshes. There are also open fields, swamps, and nature trails. During summer, you can hang out on the beaches and go swimming in the lake.
Corsons Inlet State Park
Corsons Inlet State Park is a pristine oceanfront area and nature preserve in Cape May county that was created in 1969 to preserve one of the last stretches of undeveloped land along the state’s shoreline. Although swimming is not allowed (and there are no protected beaches), you can spot a bounty of wildlife and birds here, and enjoy the water in other ways like fishing or crabbing. Or just go for a stroll or hike and enjoy the exceptionally beautiful beachscapes.
Double Trouble State Park
Double Trouble State Park's 8,000 acres of nature in southern New Jersey include lovely nature trails and lakes for fishing and canoeing. This area is steeped in culture too. Originally created as a “company town,” years ago, the Double Trouble historic village was added to the national register in the late 1970s. It also features a museum, restored sawmill, and other artifacts that capture the culture of this unique area and its cranberry bogs that are situated here. Be sure to check the website in advance prior to visiting, as the village is only open for visitors a few days a week.
Rancocas State Park
In Burlington County, New Jersey, Rancocas State Park is an optimal place to enjoy hours of fun exploring the natural surroundings. Covering more than 1,200 acres, you can hike, mountain bike, birdwatch, and spot wildlife along the many trails and wetlands along the Rancocas Creek, including a self-guided interpretive trail. Although this park offers nature walks for adults and kids (along with other outdoor programming), it does not have a welcome center on-site. Be sure to check the Rancocas Nature Center website to see the upcoming schedule of events.
Wharton State Forest
The largest area of land in the New Jersey park system, Wharton State Forest is home to a number of nature trails, as well as historic and cultural sites, including Batsto Village, a former glassmaking center from the 19th century. Outdoor enthusiasts can also enjoy a day at the Atsion Recreation Area that features a lovely lake that’s open for swimming during the summer. With its lakes and creeks, Wharton State Forest is a great place for canoeing, kayaking, as well as biking, hiking, horseback riding, and wildlife spotting.
Parvin State Park
In New Jersey’s deep southwest, the expansive Parvin State Park is a destination in the pine barrens with plenty of secluded and stunning wooded scenery, wetlands, nature trails, and opportunities for boating and fishing on three different bodies of water. This park is steeped in history too, as it was a site that was part of the Civilization Conservation Corps starting in the late 1930s, a POW camp for German prisoners during World War II, and a summer camp for the children of Japanese Americans who were displaced in 1943. There’s also a campsite here though cabins that must be reserved in advance. For those seeking to beat the heat during the summer, Parvin Lake has a guarded beach with canoe rentals, barbeque grills, a concession stand, and other facilities. Be sure to check out the visitors center when you arrive.