Not a lot of forests of the world are as beautiful and picturesque as the Wharton State Forest. Not only is it one of the more scenic sites you can visit for an RV vacation, but it is also quite fascinating. Covering over 100,000 acres of Pinelands, Wharton State Forest is the largest state forest in the state of New Jersey, and it is the largest tract of land in the park system of the state.
You can park your trusty RV on the southern edge of the forest and explore the village of Batsto, a former glassmaking industrial center that now has 33 historic structures and buildings, the best of which are the Batsto Mansion, the old general store, and the sawmill. Take a scenic hike on the Batona Trail, which covers over 50 miles and connects Brendan T. Byrne State Forest, Bass River State Park, and Wharton State Forests. Hiking isn’t the only thing you can do once you set up your rig. Horseback riding, hunting, fishing, swimming, and boating are all popular past times for RVers. Don’t forget to bring your binoculars in your campervan too since you can see dozens of native birds such as eagles, hawks, and owls.
Whether you prefer pitching your tent or staying warm inside your RV, the campgrounds of Wharton State Forest will show you the most exceptional hospitality you can ever ask for. Some of the campsites are pet-friendly, so you can even bring your furry friend along on the adventure in the great outdoors. Close enough to the beach and the casinos of Atlantic City, Wharton State Forest will surely provide everything you need for a memorable experience with a whole lot of fresh air!
Wharton State Forest is located in central New Jersey, roughly between Cherry Hill and Atlantic City. You should have no trouble getting to the park since its close to major thoroughfares like US-206 and US-30. The use of vehicles is permitted on the forest roads, but not on forest lands. Wharton State Forest has many access points that are easy enough to go through; however, keep in mind that RVs longer than 22 feet will have a hard time accessing the campgrounds.
As far as the parking goes, your best bet is to park in Batsto Village lot, located next to the Batsto Village Visitors Center. Another parking option is at Evans Bridge accessible from CR-563, or CR-679, where there is room for several vehicles to be parked along the Harrisville road. From there, you can take your bicycle or go on foot and hike up the main hiking trail that goes north from the village of Batsto.
The Atsion Family Campground is a seasonally-operating campground that has 50 tent and RV campsites. The RV sites are small and can accommodate RVs and trailers up to 22 feet in length. Each site has a fire ring and a picnic table, and flush toilets, showers, and potable water are all within walking distance. While there are no hookups, there is a dump station onsite. Some of the sites are pet-friendly, but before you reserve your space, ensure your site will permit leashed pets. Atsion Campground requires a minimum stay of two nights, and campers can make their reservations both online and in person.
Wharton State Forest has many campgrounds to choose from. Besides Atsion Family Campground, six additional camping facilities offer primitive camping for RVs and tents including Buttonwood Hill, Bodine Field, Batona, Godfrey Bridge, Hawkins Bridge, and Goshen Pond. These campgrounds are an excellent option for those looking to get back in touch with nature and enjoy a rustic camping experience since there are no hookups available. Most campsites provide a picnic table and fire ring so that you can enjoy a scenic picnic or roast marshmallows by the fire. Most sites are close to pit toilets.
Some campgrounds are open seasonally, while others are open year-round. You will want to check the website for the campground where you hope to book a stay to see if reservations are required or campsites are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.
Step out of your RV and back in time when you visit Batsto Village, located on the southern end of Wharton State Forest. At Batsto Village, you can explore what life would have been like in the 1700s and 1800s since this venue was the site of former bog iron and glassmaking industrial center. While exploring the grounds, you won't want to miss a visit to the famous Batsto Mansion, the sawmill, general store, homes of former workers, the post office, and the gristmill. Taking a self-guided tour is easy—it's free, and all you need is a smartphone. The grounds at this public village and museum are incredibly picturesque, making them the ideal spot to do some walking around and relaxing. Take your time while visiting Batsto Village and explore everything there is to see onsite.
For all fans of horseback riding, almost 500 miles of unpaved roads are available year-round at Wharton State Forest. One of the world’s oldest horse breeds the Icelandic horse, is available in the local area to rent for horseback rides.
Riders can take the long trail and go through the entire forest on the back of a horse. This activity is also kid-friendly since the Icelandic horses are considerably smaller than regular ones. It is best to avoid horseback riding during the peak season since the number of park visitors is at its highest. Instead, plan to horseback ride during the fall or early spring when the crowds are smaller. While preparing for your horseback ride, make sure you secure your camera using a small bag, as you won't want to miss the fall foliage out on the trail.
The thrill of the hunt is alive at Wharton State Forest. If you are a hunter, you will be excited to discover that the forest has over 108,895 acres of huntable land open during hunting season. Wharton State Forest is a popular area for hunting deer, small game, waterfowl, and turkey. Before planning your hunt, ensure you've taken the hunter safety course and inquire about which hunting licenses you will need. Contact the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife for hunting regulations and detailed hunting information. As with any hunt, dress for the outdoors wearing the appropriate color blaze for hunter's safety.
Wharton State Forest is fantastic for boating, kayaking, and canoeing, as it has four rivers that provide plenty of opportunities for adventure on the water. Whether you choose the Batsto, Wading, Mullica, or Oswego River, you are sure to have a blast cruising along the water. Electric power boats with over 10 horsepower are not allowed in the lakes at Batsto, Harrisville, and Atsion. Most of these rivers have boat launches, but for those that don't, you can paddle out in your canoe or kayak directly from the shore.
If you love to fish, consider toting along some bait and your tackle box to try your hand at reeling in the catch of the day. The waters teem with many different unusual species of fish, making it a haven for those who love to spend their time angling in search of the big one.
During the summer, don't forget to pack your swimsuit in your camping trailer so that you can make a splash at the swimming area at the Atsion Recreation Area. Lifeguards are available, as well as facilities such as a bathhouse, first aid room, food concession stand, and 280 parking spots. Check the swimming schedules before you go, and be aware that during the summer months, the swimming area can be closed temporarily due to overcrowding. Rafts or inner tubes are not allowed, and neither are pets.
Hikers can take the famous 50-mile Batona Trail that connects Bass River, Wharton, and Brendan T. Byrne State Forests. You’ll hike through some of New Jersey’s most iconic scenery like Pinelands and have beautiful hilly views along your hike. Plus, you can check out the historic villages of Lower Forge and Martha. Most parts of the trail are level. Horses or motor vehicles are not permitted on the trail. The park follows a carry-in and carry-out policy, so make sure to leave no trace.