Saturday, August 27, 2016

12 Places in New Jersey to Celebrate the Centennial of the National Park Service

The National Park Service marks its centennial this month. You may think first of the biggest and most prominent parks that are far from New Jersey, but did you know that New Jersey has 12 locations that are part of the National Park Service celebration?

Take a tour of all 12 at www.nps.gov/state/nj/ and you will find:

One of the newest members of the system is the Paterson Great Falls, which was designated a National Historic Park in 2009. Located in the city conceived by Alexander Hamilton to spur American industry, the Paterson Great Falls succeeded in driving manufacturing in early 19th-century New Jersey. The centerpiece is the 77-foot-high falls whic can be viewed from several vantage points including a footbridge over the Passaic River.

We also have the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. It is 70,000 acres of forests and 40 miles of river.

Less well known is Great Egg Harbor River. Named "egg harbor" for its abundant waterfowl nesting grounds, it runs 129 miles from Berlin in Camden County to Great Egg Harbor near Ocean City.

Sandy Hook is part of the NY/NJ Gateway National Recreation Area. It ha popular beaches and offers camping, birdwatching, tours of historic sites, including Sandy Hook Lighthouse and a decommissioned Nike missile base.

We are also home to 72.2 miles of the Appalachian Trail which contains sections that might surprise even New Jerseyeans with the views of scenic bluffs, glacial lakes and a boardwalk through a wetlands area. It's great for a day hike or a multiday hiking/camping trip.

A personal favorite is the Pinelands National Reserve. People outside our state may be surprised that we have 1.1 million acres of forests, wild rivers, cranberry bogs and historic towns - and the legendary Jersey Devil.

History buffs will enjoy traveling back to the American Revolution which was often fought in our state by visiting Morristown National Historical Park. The park includes Washington’s headquarters from the tough winter of 1779-1780 and the army’s encampment at Jockey Hollow. The Washington-Rochambeau National Historic Trail passes through New Jersey and proceeds to Yorktown, Virginia, where armies led by Washington and French General Rochambeau defeated the British in the Revolutionary War’s last major battle.

Another kind of inventive history is on view at Thomas Edison National Historic Park in West Orange. I have been there a dozen times since my childhood to see Edison's laboratory and nearby Glenmont, Edison’s mansion home.

Finally, we have the museum at Ellis Island (part of Statue of Liberty National Monument and often considered a New York site) where you can walk through the immigrant experience that many of our ancestors lived through.

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