New Jersey may get a bad rap for its highways and a reality show shot on its famous shore, but there’s a reason it’s been dubbed The Garden State. About 22% of its land area is covered in pristine wilderness – in fact, it’s Pineland National Reserve was named an International Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations back in 1983. The tiny state, which is the most densely populated in the United States, has more than 50 protected areas spread throughout its mostly water-carved borders. So throw on your bathing suit or hiking boots and get ready to find the best camping in New Jersey.
The state’s gentle sand dunes have been attracting beach-goers for well over a century: one of the top destinations is Cape May, the oldest seaside resort in the entire country. Visiting nature-lovers head to Cape May Point State Park to hike the rambling trails and watch wildlife from the Hawk Watch platform. Those seeking some cardio climb the 199 steps to the top of fully restored 1859 Cape May Lighthouse, which offers prime views of the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay.
Although there is no coastal camping in New Jersey’s Cape May County, the area is home to nearly 50 campgrounds – more per square mile than other resort destination in the state – tucked away in the forests of the mainland areas.
For those who want to escape the often crowded campgrounds near the beach, Belleplain State Forest in the northern part of Cape May County offers some of the most stunning camping in New Jersey. It features idyllic sites set among the young pines, oak and Atlantic white cedar trees that are spread throughout the 21,000-acre preserve, a top pick for hikers, kayakers and swimmers, who prefer to get off the beaten tourist path. With the Dyrt, you can be sure to find the best camping in New Jersey, from the southern beaches to the northeastern Palisades.
I would say that Steam Mill campground was much quieter and more secluded then the rest of the camping options in Stokes State Forest. They had a fairly nice and well maintained bathroom facility. Each of the camping spots were big and outfitted with picnic benches and fire rings for cooking. The biggest negative was that the waters spouts were near the entrance so if you are staying deeper into the campground, I would consider this. Of the camping options in Stokes State Forest, Lake Oqcuittunk and Steamill were each a bit closer to High Point which offers more hiking options which was nice.
It is important to note that there is only RV and cabin rentals offered at Pleasant Acre. The grounds are up on top of a mountain and is quite beautiful and quiet. This is a great place to get away and bring your family and dogs. They offer several planned activities for kids and they have nice facilities like a great swimming pool and ping pong. Important to not miss: the amazingly beautiful miniature horse that wonders around its huge pin located in the middle of the campground.
This was one of my favorite campgrounds in this area if you don’t mind a little seclusion. To get to each campsite, you have to drive up a big hill that circles around the entire grounds (and eventually the lake). The campsites peel off as you drive around. Each site is fairly secluded from the next so it offers lots of privacy. If you want to be closer to other people. there are options to camp closer to the lake. There is also a large covered patio down near the lake.The campground is big and quiet which I liked. There is a great lookout point that you can walk to and they also have a memorial that is worth checking out if you stay here.
The caping set up was nice and I enjoyed the proximity to available hikes in the area. The ‘lake’ however, was kind of a disappointment. It was much smaller then I expected and a rather underwhelming. Of the camping options in Stokes State Forest, Lake Oqcuittunk and Steamill were each a bit closer to High Point which offers more hiking options. Each campsite was set up with a picnic table and a fire ring. One big positive was the covered picnic area which was a nice place to bring food and eat and hang out during the day to get out of the sun.
I really enjoyed camping at Shotwell. To get there, you have to drive about 2 miles down a road away from the welcome center. This is nice because it is quiet from traffic from cars. Each campsite is fairly big and far enough away from each other so you feel like you have your own space. Some of the sites had a platform to set up your tent on which is nice, especially if you are going after it recently rained. Our site had a picnic table and fire ring. There was a communal bathroom which was fairly well maintained and a large dumpster near the front of the site to drop off your trash. They did have a cabin-like option but I did not stay in it and do not know much about renting those.
WOW! What a place to camp! Swartswood State Park is a very large complex that is extremely well maintained with nice facilities. The campsites are slightly separated from the lake (maybe 8 min walk to lake) but that also means you aren’t bothered by day guests. The lake is beautiful! Great for swimming and fishing. There are several trail hikes that you can do from the campsite. The longest is 3 miles but you can connect between each trail to make a longer hike. There are picnic spots right on the lake if you want to spend the afternoon at the lake. They also have a concession stand that serves hot food down by the lake. They have a water fill station near the campsites that is shared between all the campers.
Was not a fan of camping in Harmony Ridge. Our campsite felt like it was on top of the people next to us and we didnt feel like we had our own space. They did have general store in the welcome center that offered ice, food and drinks, but we did not have the friendliest encounter with the store staff. There is a small lake/pond that is nice to fish on, but didn't seem clean enough for swimming. They had a pool which was probably the nicest thing about the site. It had plenty of umbrella seating area and a large mushroom shower thing. I would recommend camping somewhere else in the area as there are several other close options.
Like many of the sites in this area, Great Divide had a large pool which was used by many of the campers. Even though we had a rainy day, we still enjoyed our time at Great Divide. The campgrounds were very big and spread out and the campsites have their own space so you can enjoy quiet at night. Each site had a water spout and electric plug in. The common area, along with the pool, had a small soccer field and volleyball court. They also had scheduled activities for kids. The one downside about this site was that you are not allowed to keep your car at your site. You have to drop your supplies off and drive it back to the parking lot which was slightly annoying. They also had covered wagons which I believe you can sleep in, but I did not pursue this option… (see pics!)
Located in the Skylands of New Jersey, Mahlon Dickerson Campgound is a perfect place to spend a few nights or a couple of weeks. The campsites are paved and mostly level. They are wooded and large. Water and electric hookups and a dump station. Convenient for hiking and exploring, it's also only a 20 minute drive to a large mall in Rockaway.
This county park has large, wooded campsites with electric and water. It's beautiful and quiet, and close to beautiful hiking trails, lakes, and other outdoor recreation opportunities. And yet it's only about a 15 minute drive to a large mall with movies, shopping, and restaurants.
Panther lake was a pretty good campground with lots of spots to camp at. Our campsite had a picnic bench and a fire ring. They offer both RV and primitive camping. The grounds were fairly large and each campsite gets their own space with decent privacy. The lake and pool were a big plus, especially for hot days. While I did not take advantage, you are allowed to rent boats and take them out on the lake. The welcome center has a store where you can buy essentials you may have forgotten and then some (cold drinks, milk, cups, pans, condiments, ice cream, etc.). There is an arcade room (fun for kids but kind of an odd thing to have at a campsite in my opinion) and a covered sitting area also next to the welcome center.
I did not love Fla-Net as a place to go tent camping. The section for tents is rather small and kind of off to the side. Most of the campground was taken up by RV which were all parked really close to one another. It seemed like a decent place to go RV camping, but still not great. The campsite did not have the feel like it was in the woods. When you walk to the top of the hill, you realize the grounds are backed up to a store’s parking lot which had an odd feel to me. They did have a pool and playground which would be nice for kids and the bathroom had a shower in it which is always a plus.
Stokes State Forest has four campgrounds. The Steam Mill Camping Area is tucked out the of the way and is the most primitive. It is the smallest of the campgrounds with 27 sites only suitable for tents or small trailers/campervans. No pets or alcohol allowed.
The campground has a pit toilet and a well. Each large campsite has a picnic table, fire pit, and lantern hook. Some sites also have a tent platform. Many sites are a bit rocky.
We selected site T219. It was a solid choice: private but close to the toilet and water. Some sites located around the opposite side of the ring back up to a babbling brook. The rushing water will soothe you to sleep.
Remember, this is bear country so proper food storage is a must. Bear lockers are not provided. The area also has ticks and rattlesnakes.
Outdoor activities in the area abound. Go fishing, hiking, biking, horseback riding, kayaking, and more. There are 21 marked trails that cover over 63 miles within the boundaries of Stokes State Forest. Twelve miles are part of the Appalachian Trail. Pick up a hiking map at the park office or download the Avenza Maps app.
This visit we hiked the Tillman Ravine trail (tip: make the trail a loop and visit both the ravine and the nearby old cemetery).
You can also drive or hike to Sunset Mountain Scenic Overlook for a view of High Point Monument. High Point Monument is the highest elevation in New Jersey and is located in High Point State Park which borders Stokes State Forest on the north. High Point State Park also offers camping, hiking, sightseeing opportunities. And, on the western border of Stokes State Forest is the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. So, there is lots of outdoors to get out and explore!
We camped at the Steam Mill Camping Area in Stokes State Forest in our campervan over a chilly autumn weekend. We had the opportunity to cook some soup on our stovetop and chill out by the campfire. And, as Rangers for The Dyrt, we get products to test from time to time so we were psyched to try out some new dinnerware and cutlery. This included the FlexiBowl and GoBites from humangear.
What made these humangear products pretty awesome? Well, the fun colors to start. I mean, seriously, my orange bowl rules. The FlexiBowl also has some neat features: it’s flexible - just like the name suggests - and foldable. The bowl can be squished and stuffed anywhere. And, the top section can be folded down to create a smaller bowl. The FlexiBowl is versatile yet durable. It held my hearty, warm soup just perfectly.
I paired the FlexiBowl with one of the GoBites utensils (the Uno model). The Uno model is my favorite - it has a fork on one side and a spoon on the other side. Very simple and convenient. The other GoBites models include the Duo (separate fork and spoon that can snap together) and the Trio (a fork, spoon, and knife - with bottle opener - in a case).
PRO TIP: I keep the Trio GoBites model in my travel pack at all times. It recently came in handy on a (non-camping) trip to Sardinia. The knife on the Trio allowed me to slice some delicious local cheese to pair with bread, jam, and wine that was purchased from the grocery store. YUM.
Hike in or boat across the reservoir, thats the only way to access these primitive sites. Beautiful sites right on the lake, or up higher if wanted. If possible I suggest scouting out the perfect site prior to booking because some are gems while others are difficult to get into. We boated/canoed kayaked in for a huge group one year and single sites every other year. Earlier in the year is better to prevent lots and lots of bugs, August is hot and buggy!! Rangers always come by sites to check on campers and are nice.
We camped here once because it was easy for part of our family to get to from NYC. Sites were a little too close together and one of the sites we reserved was filled with broken glass, we did call the park office and they promptly sent someone out to clean it up. Bathrooms were clean but there wasn't soap in any of the dispensers. If you're truly looking to get away from it all I would go elsewhere since the parkway runs through/over the park, you will be able to hear traffic noises. That said, this is probably a great place for those who have not camped before, it's easy to get to and close to civilization.
Worthington had wonderful grassy sites and clean bathrooms. Unfortunately when we were there the bathroom closest to us didn't have any warm water so the showers were a no go but, there was another bathhouse nearby. Lots of trails to hike and they have a boat launch so you can canoe or kayak down the river. Our site had a lovely view of the Delaware.
The only negative experience was that we had a lot of noisy neighbors who ignored the quiet hours by playing loud music into the night and yelling in their drunken states. It would have been nice if the Rangers had properly enforced the quiet hours.
This park has a lot to offer in the way of things to do like hiking, visiting scenic lookouts or visiting the moment. Also close to Port Jervis for an excursion away from the park. Sites are private but sound carries over the water. Bathrooms have chemical toilets.
We've been here multiple times. It's so peaceful up there and the scenery is lovely. The last time we were there we were at site 28 which was nice and secluded but the smell from the pit toilets wafted over after a while. Previously we had stayed on one of the sites (33 I think) across from the bathrooms and had no issues with smell.
We stayed here the last weekend in September and it was wonderful. It's only 6 miles from the famous Wildwood boardwalk but you never have to leave the campground because they have so many planned activities. We stayed in the Ultra VIP section and had plenty of room to back in (total combined length of our truck and trailer is 52'). Nice concrete patio and all hookups worked well.
This may be my favorite spot. I habe stayed in all the spots they offer, yurt, cabin and the pull up sites. It is well maintained with numerous trails to hike. Getting a cabin in the winter and going for a snowy hike is wondrful there