Wednesday, September 6, 2017

New Jersey State Parks

The end of summer doesn't mean the end of visits to outdoor areas. In fact, with foliage becoming a major tourist attraction in many area on the East Coast, the cooler months of autumn are increasingly times for outdoor travel vacations.

Though it may be only weekend visits for families with kids, for others the less crowded fall season has advantages.

Last year I bought my lifetime senior citizen National Parks Pass for $10 and my wife and I have since visited several National Parks and plan on visiting many others. But we don't have to leave the state to see parks and forests.

The State Park Pass is available for New Jersey residents at $50 (Non-Resident $75) and means free entrance for one calendar year to the state parks and forests facilities that charge daily walk-in or parking fees. If you are a frequent visitor to the state parks, the purchase of the State Park Pass can mean a substantial savings over the payment of daily walk-in or parking fees. The pass does not cover camping fees or guarantee entry when facilities are filled to capacity or for special events. That same application also entitles New Jersey residents age 62 or over and people who are totally disabled to free admission and free parking upon providing adequate verification of their status. They also receive a $2 per night reduction in campsite rates.

There are 40 New Jersey State Parks and forests. Here are just a few options to consider this autumn.

High Point      Flickr - Thomas Hannigan 
High Point State Park is known for its High Point Monument which, at 1,803 feet above sea level, offers a great panorama of rich farmland and forest, soft hills and lush valleys in three states. The Delaware River is a blue line that marks the ridges of New Jersey from those of Pennsylvania.

But High Point also offers trails for walkers, hikers and skiers, and quiet spots for campers and anglers.

The land for High Point State Park, donated by Colonel Anthony R. and Susie Dryden Kuser, was dedicated as a park in 1923. The landscaping was designed by the Olmsted Brothers of Boston, a prominent landscape architectural firm of that time owned by brothers who were the sons of the eminent Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed Central Park.

Island Beach State Park is a narrow barrier island south of Seaside Park that stretches for 10 miles between the Atlantic Ocean and the historic Barnegat Bay.

Island Beach is one of New Jersey's last significant remnants of a barrier island ecosystem that once existed along much of the coast and is also one of the few remaining undeveloped barrier beaches on the north Atlantic coast. Over 3,000 acres and 10 miles of coastal dunes remain almost untouched since Henry Hudson first described New Jersey's coast in 1609.

The dunes and white sandy beaches offer habitat to maritime plants and diverse wildlife in the dunes, thicket, freshwater wetlands, maritime forest and tidal marshes.

The state's largest osprey colony calls this park home and there are also visiting peregrine falcons, wading birds, shorebirds, waterfowl and migrating songbirds.

Island Beach is nationally known as a unique resource with over 400 plants identified, including the largest expanses of beach heather in New Jersey.

Like High Point, the best known spot at Cape May is the lighthouse. It is a great attraction for many visitors to the area, but the park’s constantly changing shoreline, dunes, freshwater coastal marsh and ponds, forested islands and varied uplands make it a well-known location for viewing the fall bird migration.

Located on the southern tip of New Jersey, Cape May Point State Park is a key site on the NJ Coastal Heritage Trail, with an environmental center that houses a classroom for interpretive programs and a museum on the area's natural and historic features.

Check out the Official Facebook page for New Jersey State Parks, Forests and Historic Sites at:

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