New Jersey’s first state park, Swartswood State Park is a nature lover’s paradise that will give campers acre after acre of pristine forests to explore. The main attraction at the park is Swartswood Lake, the third-largest freshwater lake in the state. Here, you’ll be able to enjoy a wide range of different activities out on the water. Rent a kayak or canoe and explore the forest-shaded shores of the lake.
Want a more relaxed way to enjoy the waters? Head to the beach area for a swim. You’ll find plenty of room to stretch out on the sand on a hot summer day and enjoy the sun.
Anglers will be able to catch a wide variety of fish species any time of the year. Come in spring for the chance to catch. And hunters aren’t left out, either. Most of the park is open to hunting, with game such as white-tailed deer, wild turkey, grouse, and pheasant.
You’ll find plenty to do once you step out of the water. There are miles of hiking trails of varying difficulty that allow you to explore the forests around the lake.
With a campground found within the park, RV campers will have plenty of options when it comes to choosing their site. No matter how long you’re staying, you’ll find plenty to explore at Swartswood State Park.
Located in northwestern New Jersey, Swartswood State Park is within driving distance of many major cities in the region, making it an easy stop for any RV trip.
If you are coming from New York, you’ll be able to reach the park in around an hour and a half, taking I-280 and I-80. The park is also a short drive from Philadelphia. Take NJ-31 and you’ll arrive at the park in just over two hours.
The campground is right by the park entrance, and has well-maintained roads that make it easy to reach your campsite. There aren’t any RV restrictions, so you can move around with ease.
There are 65 sites that can be rented at the campground within the park. All of the sites feature a fire ring and a picnic table, so you’ll have plenty of room to cook and relax. You’ll also find restrooms and drinking water within the campground. There is also a picnic area where you can use a charcoal grill. The maximum RV length at any of the sites is 55 feet. None of the sites have electrical or water hookups and only a few are pet-friendly.
The campground is located on the shores of lake Smartswood. No matter what site you choose, you’ll easily be able to reach the beach, the boat ramp, and all of the hiking trails.
The campground is not fully open year round. 21 of the campsites are open all year, with the rest open from April through October. All of the sites can be booked online, up to a year in advance, for a maximum of 14 days. If you are booking for the fall season, consider reserving your site early, as the campground begins to fill up quickly.
Swartswood State Park offers excellent hunting grounds with a wide variety of game. You’ll find wild turkey, grouse, and white-tailed deer in the colorful and secluded woods.
Most of the park is open, although consult with the park office upon your arrival to make sure that the area where you plan to hunt is not restricted. As a state park, hunting laws are strictly enforced. Always use extra caution, as the area is also popular with hikers.
Even the most experienced angler will enjoy fishing on Swartswood Lake. You’ll find a wide variety of different trout species, such as rainbow, brown, and brook trout if you visit the park during spring.
If you come during the summer or fall, you’ll find many other species, such as bass, catfish, sunfish, walleye, and perch. The lake is large enough that you’ll never have trouble finding a secluded spot to fish in peace.
You’ll need a New Jersey state fishing license, but these can easily be bought at the park.
The lake is also excellent to explore by boat. Enjoy one of the largest and most beautiful lakes in the state in a kayak, canoe, or any other electric motor powered boat.
Depending on the time of year, you can rent boats by the beach. The office is open on weekends only in May and June, but opens up every day of the week beginning in July and running until Labor Day.
Don’t want to take a boat out? There is a designated swimming area where you can enjoy the refreshing waters of the lake, with changing areas, showers, and restrooms nearby.
There is also a concession building where you can buy food and any beach supplies you’ll need that you forgot to pack in the rig.
Swartswood State Park is an RV excellent destination, even during the winter. If you are planning on visiting during the colder months, consider packing a pair of skis. The many trails of the park can be used for cross-country skiing.
Explore the white forests as snow descends upon the park and the lake freezes over. There is plenty of wildlife active in the park during the winter, especially white-tailed deer.
Although known best for its water activities, Swartswood State Park also has miles of excellent hiking trails that allow you to explore the forests surrounding the lake.
Take the Duck Pond Trail for a relaxed and easy walk through the beautiful forests of the park. There are information plaques located along the trail so that you can learn about the local wildlife. Want a serious challenge? Take the Grist Mill Trail for nearly two miles of steep, rocky hiking that will take you up to a dam with scenic views of the lake.
Hiking is great year round, but at its best from April through October. The trails are most crowded around fall, when hikers come to the park to experience the spectacular autumn color.
Head out onto Swartswood Lake during the coldest days of the year to try your hand at ice fishing. You’ll have to be patient, but you’ll be surprised at the variety of fish that you will find.
The park does not make any guarantees about the safety of the ice. That means that any time you venture out onto the ice, you are doing so at your own risk. Always check ice conditions, and make sure that they are up to date, as ice thickness can change quickly.