The Garden State provides a spectacular backdrop for some of the most scenic campgrounds in the country. But do you know which campgrounds offer the most privacy? Which are the best for first-time campers? Matt Willen traversed the entire statefrom the northern reaches of Stokes State Forest to the Atlantic coastal islandsand compiled the most up-to-date research to steer you to the perfect spot!
Best Tent Camping: New Jersey presents 50 private, state park, and state forest campgrounds, organized into five distinct regions. Selections are based on location, topography, size, and overall appeal, and every site is rated for beauty, privacy, spaciousness, safety and security, and cleanlinessso you’ll always know what to expect. The new full-color edition of this proven guidebook provides everything you need to know, with detailed maps of each campground and key information such as fees, restrictions, dates of operation, and facilities, as well as driving directions and GPS coordinates.
Whether you seek a quiet campground near a fish-filled stream or a family campground with all the amenities, grab Best Tent Camping: New Jersey. It’s an escape for all who wish to find those special locales that recharge the mind, body, and spirit. This guide is a keeper.
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Beauty: 5 / Privacy: 4 / Spaciousness: 5 / Quiet: 5 / Security: 5 / Cleanliness: 4
What distinguishes Camp Taylor from the pack is its own packthat is, an on-site wolf preserve.
ADDRESS: 85 Mount Pleasant Road, Columbia, NJ 07832
OPERATED BY: Private
CONTACT: 908-496-4333 or 800-545-9662, camptaylor.com; reserve by phone Monday–Thursday, 9 a.m.–6 p.m. Eastern time, Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m.–9 p.m.
OPEN: Mid-April–October, off-season by reservation
SITES: 114, including 20 primitive tent sites (sites 47–49 and 81–98)
EACH SITE HAS: Picnic table, fire ring, trash can
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: None
ASSIGNMENT: First-come, first-served or by reservation (recommended)
REGISTRATION: On arrival or by phone (2-day minimum for weekend reservations)
FACILITIES: Water, restrooms, showers, store
PARKING: At campsites or in lot
FEES: $32/night for 2 people; $12/night for each additional adult; $4/night for children ages 2–17
PETS: On leash, 1 pet/site; prohibited near wildlife pens
FIRES: In fire rings only
ALCOHOL: Permitted at campsites only
VEHICLES: Up to 38 feet
OTHER: No stay limit specified; quiet hours 11 p.m.–9 a.m.; check-in 3 p.m. or later
Set on a remote hillside on the ridge of the Kittatinny Mountains, this private campground offers an unusual and appealing mix of attractions. Camp Taylor’s wooded hillside tenting area, with primitive sites that are both spacious and shaded, is only part of its appeal. The remote location is another draw; the 350-acre camp is adjacent to 70,000-acre Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, which is quite large for a backyard. Most campers who visit Camp Taylor come to take advantage of this proximity and to enjoy the remote setting. Nonetheless, Camp Taylor offers organized activities for both kids and adults, including a miniature golf course, a swimming area, and a game room. But what truly distinguishes Camp Taylor from the pack is its own packthat is, an on-site wolf preserve.
Lakota Wolf Preserve features four wildlife pens dispersed over 10 acres. Three of the football field–sized pens house adult timber, tundra, and arctic wolves; the fourth pen houses foxes, bobcats, and wolf pups. The animals have all been raised in captivity and are habituated to humans, so they do not hide when visitors stop by. Wolf watches (which include feedings) happen twice daily, although there is no guarantee that you will see the wolves playing and wandering around. They do tend to come out at feeding times, though, so you’ll have an excellent chance of seeing them eat. Wolf watches and feedings happen at 10:30 a.m. year-round. Through lectures, visitors also learn about the social structure of wolf packs, the wolves’ daily lives, and their eating habits. Reservations are necessary for weekday wolf watches, but no appointments are necessary on weekends. Pets are prohibited from going on wolf watches. The nearby Blairstown Animal Hospital (908-362-6430) may be available to board pets during your wolf watch; inquire at the office. Noncampers can also visit and view the wolves on wolf-watch walks.
Wolf walks involve a 0.5-mile hike through the forest. Transportation is available if visitors cannot walk that distance; inquire at the office for details. Photographers should note that a chain-link fence sits between wolves and visitors. Professional photographers can schedule private photo sessions for a fee.
The wolves eat between 30,000 and 40,000 pounds of meat a year. They get a lot of local roadkillNew Jersey has an abundance of deer that wander onto roadways. But the bulk of their food comes from Space Farms Zoo on County Route 519 in Sussex County. The private zoo, originally a general store, began as a roadside attraction in 1927. Goliath, a 12-foot-tall Alaskan brown bear and its star attraction for many years, is now stuffed and on display in the gift shop.
Camp Taylor gets busy on summer weekends, and they require a two-night minimum for reservations, which are highly recommended. The campsites are open from mid-April to October, but year-round camping is possible with advance reservations. Three trailer toilets service the tent-camping area, and flush toilets and showers are available at the office. Although all of the tent sites are quite spacious, some provide more understory and privacy than others, so arrive early and choose carefully. All sites feature shade. The usual warnings about camping in bear country apply: use bearproof containers, and never take food into or near your tent. (See the Introduction for more information on how to camp safely in bear country.) Camp Taylor provides trash containers at each site, as well as centrally located recycling barrels.
Fishing is prohibited at the campground, but swimming is allowed in the 2-acre lake. Nonswimmers must stay in the immediate beach area and must be accompanied by an adult swimmer at all times. Paddleboats and kayaks are available for rent. Anglers enjoy nearby Delaware and Paulinskill Rivers.
Campers who tire of the game room, volleyball court, and organized activities can take to the trails. Mountain Trail leaves Camp Taylor property behind the farthest wildlife pen and meets up with a fire road right inside public lands. Hike to the left for 2.2 miles to reach the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and the trail up Mount Tammany. Take a right, and the same length hike will take you to Yards Creek, where walking trails surround a power facility. You can also access the Appalachian Trail from Yards Creek.
Even without the wolf preserve, Camp Taylor stands on its own as a decent campground. Sites are wooded, and campers will find plenty of activities to keep both children and adults occupied. But the wolf preserve elevates this campground from a nicely wooded private area to an experience unlike any other in New Jersey.
From I-80, take Exit 4, following the signs for NJ 94 North. Merge onto NJ 94 North, and drive 2.6 miles. Turn left onto Mt. Pleasant Road, and drive 1.6 miles. The campground entrance will be on the left.
GPS COORDINATES: N40º 58.256' W75º 04.330'
Table of ContentsNew Jersey Campground Locator Map
NORTHERN NEW JERSEY
- Campgaw Mountain Campground
- Camp Glen Gray
- Camp Taylor
- Camp Wyanokie
- Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area: Canoe-In Campsites
- Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area: Appalachian Trail Dispersed Camping
- Harmony Ridge Campground
- High Point State Park: Sawmill Lake Camping Area
- Mahlon Dickerson Reservation Campground
- Ramapo Valley County Reservation Campground
- Stokes State Forest: Lake Ocquittunk Camping Area
- Stokes State Forest: Shotwell Camping Area
- Stokes State Forest: Steam Mill Camping Area
- Swartswood State Park Campground
- Worthington State Forest Campground
WEST CENTRAL NEW JERSEY
- Delaware River Family Campground
- Jenny Jump State Forest Campground
- Round Valley Recreation Area Campground
- Spruce Run Recreation Area Campground
- Stephens State Park Campground
- Teetertown Preserve Campground
- Triple Brook Camping Resort
- Voorhees State Park Campground
EAST CENTRAL NEW JERSEY
- Allaire State Park Campground
- Bass River State Forest: North Shore Campground
- Brendan T. Byrne State Forest Camping Area
- Camp Gateway, Sandy Hook
- Cheesequake State Park Campground
- Riverwood Park Campground
- Timberline Lake Camping Resort
- Turkey Swamp Park Campground
THE JERSEY SHORE
- Adventure Bound Camping Resort
- Cedar Creek Campground
- Frontier Campground
- Ocean View Resort Campground
- Surf & Stream Campground
SOUTHERN NEW JERSEY
- Atlantic County Park: Estell Manor Campground and Camp Acagisca
- Atlantic County Park: Lake Lenape Campground
- Belleplain State Forest: Meisle Field and CCC Camp
- Belleplain State Forest: North Shore Campground
- Parvin State Park: Jaggers Point Camping Area
- Philadelphia South/Clarksboro KOA Campground
- Wharton State Forest: Atsion Family Campground
- Wharton State Forest: Batona Campground
- Wharton State Forest: Bodine Field Campground
- Wharton State Forest: Buttonwood Hill Campground
- Wharton State Forest: Godfrey Bridge Campground
- Wharton State Forest: Goshen Pond Campground
- Wharton State Forest: Hawkin Bridge Campground
- Wharton State Forest: Lower Forge and Mullica River Campgrounds
APPENDIX A: Camping Equipment Checklist
APPENDIX B: Sources of Information
APPENDIX C: Suggested Reading and Reference
ABOUT THE AUTHOR