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Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge is tucked away in the northern realms of New Jersey, a short drive south of Morristown and north of Bridgewater. Sitting less than an hour away from New York City, it's the perfect motorhome camping spot for anyone with an RV rental in these eastern states.
This biodiverse swamp sits in an area of great geological significance. When the Wisconsin Glacier began to retreat thousands of years ago, it left behind a deep valley in New Jersey, along with vast deposits of mineral-rich soil and rock. Now, this valley plays host to the 35,000-acre Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, where fertile soil has nurtured grassland, marshes, woodlands, hundreds of species of wildflower, and habitats for countless birds, mammals, and fish.
Most visitors camping at Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge are drawn to the opportunity to see such varied species in such a small space. So whether you're an avid birdwatcher or simply looking for a picturesque stroll through the countryside, book an RV rental in Morris County today to discover one of The Garden State's best-kept secrets.
Exploring the park via one of its many trails is the best way to see every nook and cranny the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge has to offer. Almost all of the trails have accessible boardwalks and paved-paths, which makes them suitable for families with pushchairs as well as ADA-accessible. Over by the Wildlife Observation Centre, visitors can explore 1.5miles of boardwalk trails, complete with informative displays boards describing various flora and fauna within viewing distance. A second, 2-mile loop, which can be completed on foot or in your car, presents even more opportunities for wildlife spotting. On this trail, there's an outlook that's perfect for avid bird watchers who've bought their binoculars along with them.
It's difficult to put into words just how many species it's possible to see during your Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge camping trip. For the best chances of wildlife spotting, visit during spring and summer when frogs, turtles, and even the odd snake can be seen along the boardwalks. It's not uncommon to spot larger mammals too, like a white-tailed deer, red fox, or muskrat. And, for the bird watches out there, keep your eyes peeled for bald eagles nesting high in the trees, waterfowl by the water's edge, or perhaps a red-tailed hawk in mid-flight.
To maintain and manage a healthy population of deer in the refuge, hunting is permitted here at select times. Each November, a five-day event takes place, starting with a youth-hunt which then opens to the general public. Anyone interested in taking part will need to register their interest with the park office beforehand, make sure they have the correct license, and familiarise themselves with all of the rules and regulations of hunting in the park.
RV camping at Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge isn't permitted, so campers will need to head a little further afield to find somewhere to call home for the night. Some of the closest campgrounds can be found just past the town of Dover.
The closest is Fla-Net Park, a well-equipped and contemporary campground providing every modern convenience one could wish for. Run by the same family since 1968, the owners are well versed in making sure their guests have an enjoyable stay. Though rustic in its appearance, guests can enjoy full hookups for their rental RV, swimming pool access during the summer, and an immaculate washroom. A few added extras include an on-site fishing pond, game room with a cozy wood stove, and paddleboat rentals.
Alternatively, head a little further out to the Panther Lake Camping Resort. This huge campsite maintains more than 430 pitches, with a mixture of partial and full hookup facilities. Its site-wide WiFi connection means you'll have no problem keeping in touch with the outside world, and it's a playground, swimming pool, and game room that will keep the whole family entertained.
When you rent a camper near Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, it's worth taking a visit to the nearby Morristown, where quaint eateries, museums, and outdoor spaces await.
If you haven't had enough of the great outdoors just yet, head over to the George Griswold Frelinghuysen Arboretum. Free to enter, this locally run outdoor space features an impressive selection of native flora, including shrubs, trees, and flowers. All in all, the area encompasses 130 acres and is easily explored via the walking paths or horse-riding trails that wind through the grounds. Sat in the middle of the park is the grand Frelinghuysen House, built in colonial revival style and open to the public on select days.
Morristown is also home to the second-largest museum in the entirety of New Jersey, simply known as the Morris Museum. Without concentrating on one specific theme, the museum offers a glimpse into the state's native wildlife, Native American history, railroad history, local artwork, and more. Along with the temporary exhibits, the museum hosts a healthy schedule of rotating exhibitions, too, so check out their website for a calendar of events before your visit.
To enjoy a quick history lesson on the region's political history, head to the Morristown National Historical Park. The site itself commemorates the exact spot where General Washington and the Continental army spent one of the coldest winters on record. As well as boasting some of the original shelters used by the men, the site is also home to the Washington Headquarters Museum, where a 30-minute film and three exhibits can tell you all about the trials and tribulations that took place in the park.