New Jersey is full of wonderful places to visit and explore. Not to mention the rich history found throughout the Great Garden State dating back to the beginning of the United States and the original 13 colonies.

From state parks to national landmarks, New Jersey is full of fun and interesting things. Think about the importance of Washington crossing the Delaware, for example.

Or the scientific breakthroughs of the Big Bang theory thanks to the Horn Antenna in Holdel. And of course, all the accomplishments made by Edison at his Menlo Park laboratory.

With so many places of historic significance, you might think that New Jersey would have designated National Parks surrounding these areas. But believe it or not, New Jersey doesn't have any National Parks at all.


There has to be one... Right?

It might come as a surprise, but no, New Jersey is only one of a handful of states that does not have a National Park within its borders. Other states on this list include Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin, according to World Population Review.

The top three states in the country with the most National Parks are California with 9, followed by Alaska with 8, then Utah at 5. All other states have anywhere from 1 to 4 National Parks.

But that brings us back to the question about New Jersey, where most believe we have at least one. One such area makes up the northernmost tip of the Jersey Shore.

Bud McCormick
Bud McCormick

Sandy Hook isn't a park?

Home of the oldest operating lighthouse in America, Sandy Hook is actually part of the National Gateway Recreation Area. The portion in New Jersey is only just part of the entire area that makes up this region (New York State is the other).

Although it is technically a park in a broader sense, it's not officially designated as a National Park. But why? What's the difference between a National Recreation Area and a National Park?

The biggest difference has to do with the protection of the area's land, wildlife, and other natural resources, whereas a National Recreation Area does not. Both, however, offer similar types of recreational activities such as hiking, biking, camping, swimming, and more.

However, because the area is managed by the National Park Service, funding and regulations often differ from other parks within the state.

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area)

What about the Delaware Water Gap?

The Delaware Water Gap is another region that, as of today, hasn't been designated as a National Park. On the Jersey side of the river, it's broken up into two sections.

The lower portion is managed by the state as part of Worthington State Forest. North of that, the region is designated as the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.

However, there have been pushes to designate the area as a National Park to ensure the preservation of the land for future generations.

Pine Barrens Path
Photo by Justin Louis

What about the Pine Barrens?

A huge portion of the Pine Barrens has been designated as a National Reserve in New Jersey. But wait, what's the difference there between that and a National Park?

Essentially, a preserve is to help protect the natural resources such as animals within the area. According to, the New Jersey Pinelands reserve "includes portions of seven southern New Jersey counties, and encompasses over one-million acres of farms, forests and wetlands. It contains 56 communities, from hamlets to suburbs, with over 700,000 permanent residents."

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The above post reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 Sunday morning host Mike Brant. Any opinions expressed are his own.

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