Vicki Jauron, Babylon and Beyond Photography/Getty Images
The Garden State is living up to its name by offering free admission to all New Jersey state parks, forests, and recreation areas this summer.
All visitors will have entrance fees waived to each of its more than 50 sites — covering more than 453,000 acres — whether arriving by foot, bike, motorcycle, or car.
“The bold steps we have taken toward a more affordable Garden State will ensure access to our state parks for everyone, residents and visitors alike,” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said in an announcement last week. “While incentivizing tourism and economic activity in our local communities, the fee holiday also promotes access to green, open space; thriving waterways; and the many natural wonders that make us proud to call New Jersey our home.”
Additionally, anyone who had previously purchased a 2022 State Park Pass will get a full refund.
Among the highlights of the park system is the Cape May Point State Park, a 244-acre area along natural migratory bird routes which makes it one of the continent’s prime spots for birdwatchers. Dragonflies and monarch butterflies also make their way to the park in the late summer.
Also on site is the 157-foot tall Cape May Lighthouse, dating back to 1859, and a World War II Bunker built for the 1942 Harbor Defense Project.
Another highlight is at the top of New Jersey’s highest point, High Point State Park on Kittatinny Ridge, 1,803 feet above sea level. The 16,000-acre space includes the High Point Monument, honoring the state’s veterans, as well as the 20-acre Lake Marcia with spring-fed waters and a swim area, plus 50 miles of trails, including 18 miles of the Appalachian Trail.
Other sites including Washington Crossing State Park, where George Washington crossed the Delaware River in 1776; Wharton State Forest in the state’s Pinelands; and Allaire State Park with the 19th century Historic Allaire Village, which is complete with a blacksmith shop and general store.
For beachgoers, the state also has a oceanfront swimming beach in Seaside Park, the Island Beach State Park on a barrier island between the Atlantic Ocean and Barnegat Bay.
“The state park system provides endless opportunities for recreation, from swimming, hiking and kayaking, to picnicking, exploring nature and experiencing our rich history,” state Commissioner Shawn LaTourette said. “Whatever your passion or interest, there is a state park in New Jersey for you.”