2012 Keystone Passport
2012 Keystone Passport
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Less than an hour's drive from the hustle and bustle of Newark, the borough of Rockaway beckons visitors with history from before the birth of the United States and the promise of near-wilderness amidst the spreading suburbanization in northern New Jersey. Its namesake river, a tributary of the Passaic River and a good place to fish for trout and smallmouth bass, meanders through town from northeast to south. Not far away are swamp areas dating back to the last Ice Age that are now part of Morris County’s nature preserves.
A few decades before the Revolutionary War, Rockaway was already a center for trade, manufacturing, and religion. When the war erupted, Rockaway became the focal point for iron manufacture and subsequently a stronghold for revolutionary activity. The town continued to grow through the end of the Civil War until its incorporation towards the end of the 19th century. Book an RV in Morris County today and step back in time to experience both the human and geologic history the area is deservedly famous for.
Birdwatchers flock to the Troy Meadows Wetlands in Parsippany for abundant avian sightings. A remnant of an ancient glacial lake, this 3,100-acre nature preserve is half an hour away by Rockaway campervan rental and hosts a population of butterflies, reptiles, and amphibians including bog turtles in their native habitat. Several trails meander through the wetlands. Follow the Patriot's Path for a verdant walk through the meadows, or the Green Mile boardwalk for frequent sightings of great blue herons, eastern bluebirds, and red-winged blackbirds, among others.
A bit farther out but far bigger, the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge takes up 7,800 acres of Morris County, and like the Troy Meadows, was formed at the end of the last Ice Age when the Wisconsin Glacier retreated. Close to 250 species of birds rest and feed here, with fox, deer, and muskrat also calling this nature preserve home. Explore the refuge on foot and spot wildlife using several trails on site: the two-mile hike on boardwalks through the Wildlife Observation Center, the 4.5-mile Orange Trail best walked during foliage season, and the 5.25-mile Blue Trail through wooded areas. All trails are level and easy and may be wet and buggy even in the summer.
If you want to get a taste of the Appalachian Trail, take your RV rental from Rockaway, NJ an hour's drive out of town to Wawayanda State Park in northern New Jersey. Dip your paddle into Lake Wawayanda for a quiet glide on the water, or put a line out for sunfish, largemouth bass, and pickerel. Lace up your boots for a vigorous hike up the Wawayanda Mountain and breathe in the sensational views, or brace yourself for a rugged hike on the 20-mile stretch of the AT.
Morris County has carved a campground out of its extensive park system to set up the Mahlon Dickerson Reservation in Jefferson Township some 20 minutes' drive by camper rental from Rockaway. You'll find water and electric sites here along with showers, restrooms, and a dump station. The campground is within the 3,300-acre near-wilderness park of the county crisscrossed with a network of trails suitable for hiking, mountain biking, and horse riding. Wet a line at the scenic Saffin Pond or climb atop the Headley Overlook for breathtaking views.
If you are willing to go the distance – with a handful of gas stations in town, you should be able to go far – other camping options await at Flanders, Andover, and Newton. Your effort will be rewarded with access to full hookup sites and camp amenities like hot showers, restrooms, and swimming pools (in season).
If all you need is a space to park your motorhome rental near Rockaway, consider spending the night at the Walmart parking lot in town. Get the store manager's approval, and you should be all set.
Rockaway's history is closely tied with the Revolutionary War. Relics of that past can be gleaned at the Presbyterian Church and Cemetery where many of Revolutionary War soldiers are buried. The earlier structure, built in 1758, served as a meeting house and public forum for patriots. The church was completed later, in 1832.
One of the borough's former residents, Capt. Stephen Jackson was a Washington bodyguard. In 1780, General George Washington stopped in his house for refreshments. The stately Jackson House still stands today as a convent by the Sacred Heart Church.
Take your RV rental from Rockaway to the borough’s outskirts along Mt Hope Road. Here you will see the three-story Ford-Faesch Manor built in 1768 intended to be an ironmaster's mansion for Colonel Jacob Ford, Jr. He eventually leased the Georgian-style house, including the iron works, to a Swiss immigrant who supervised the manufacture of ammunition and ordnance supplied to the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. Gen. Washington is said to have frequented this house when he passed through Rockaway.
After a walk through the historical treasures of the borough, it’s time to discover its surprisingly diverse dining scene, with Italian, Mexican, and American eats as local staples. Be more adventurous with your palate and head to the Colombian, Indian, and Thai restaurants for empanada, biryani, and pad Thai, or browse the aisles of the grocery stores to cook up your own creation. There are a handful in town, including places to pick up fresh produce.
Rockaway is one of those places amidst the suburban din whose cultural and natural treasures you won’t easily discover if you don’t look hard. So when you search for a motorhome rental in Rockaway, keep your eyes peeled for the gems you will encounter along the way.