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Part of New Jersey's Pine Barrens coastal plain, Wharton State Forest is a utopia for outdoor enthusiasts. It occupies an enormous 120,000-acre footprint, making it the largest single stretch of land in the New Jersey State Parks system. There are endless ways to enjoy the park, whether you're working up a sweat on hiking trails, exploring scenic paddling routes, or roasting s'mores around the fire pit back at your RV campsite. There's also a dash of history thrown in, with Batsto Village offering a glimpse of the park's former status as an iron and glassmaking hub.
At just 45 minutes from Philadelphia and under two hours from New York City, Wharton State Forest is deservedly popular with city slickers in search of fresh air. The park is also a stone's throw from Trenton, the New Jersey state capital. Planning a getaway to the Garden State? Whether you want to lock down a compact camper or a family-sized rig, you'll find a huge selection of RV rentals in Burlington County, as well as Atlantic and Camden Counties.
A paradise for paddlers, Wharton State Forest is crisscrossed with rivers and streams that wind through the Pinelands — take your pick of paddling routes on the Mullica, Batsto, Oswego, and Wading Rivers. If you prefer land-based adventures, the park offers more than 50 miles of trails, including sections geared towards mountain biking and horseback riding. For a longer hike, hit a section of the famous Batona Trail, which winds for 53 miles through the Pine Barrens.
In summer, visitors flock to Atsion Lake to cool off in the clear water and bask on the sandy beach. Camping at Wharton State Forest is a great way to beat the crowds and ensure you snag a spot before the beach reaches capacity. Birdwatchers will be in their element with the chance to spot bald eagles, ospreys, red-tailed hawks, great blue herons, screech owls, hummingbirds, and more. You should also keep your eyes peeled for beavers, river otters, deer, and foxes.
For more information on the park's unique ecosystem, check out the colorful exhibits and interactive displays at the visitors' center. Discover the park's industrial heritage at Batsto Village, an open-air museum where you can peer into more than 30 historic buildings that recall the park's 18th and 19th-century heyday. Highlights include the gristmill, sawmill, and general store, as well as live blacksmithing demonstrations.
Wharton State Forest offers two well-maintained campgrounds: one set on Atsion Lake and the other next to Godfrey Bridge. Atsion is a great option for families, with 50 sites for tent and RV campers equipped with picnic tables and fire rings. Like most state park RV campgrounds, Atsion offers bathroom blocks with flush toilets and hot showers, as well as potable water stations. Serviced rigs can take advantage of the RV sanitary station open from April to December. Pets are welcome at Atsion, so why not bring along Fido?
Private and peaceful, Godfrey Bridge appeals to campers in search of an off-the-grid experience. The no-frills campground is set by the Wadling River and features wooded sites with picnic tables, fire rings, and pit toilets. Both campgrounds cater to RV rentals measuring 21 feet or less, which makes Wharton State Forest a good option for small to medium-sized rigs.
Occupying more than one million acres of the Garden State, the Pine Barrens cradles a patchwork of lush wetlands and sun-dappled cedar bogs. Dedicating a day or so to exploring the region will take you to historic villages, local berry farms, and boutique wineries. The area is famous for its home-baked pies, with local institutions near Hammonton winning cult followings. If you want to know more about the cultural legacy of the region, pick up a copy of John McPhee's 1960s bestseller, The Pine Barrens.
If entertaining the kids is a priority, you'll love nearby attractions like Sahara Sam's Oasis, an indoor waterpark with racing slides, tube rides, splash zones, lazy rivers, and a surf simulator. Diggerland, a construction-themed amusement park seven miles from Atsion campground, features supersized rides and attractions like Spin Dizzy, Sky Shuttle, and the Greased Beast.
Planning a quick motorhome camping getaway? At just over 90 miles from Downtown Manhattan, Wharton State Forest offers a unique opportunity to camp in an RV near New York. You're also a 40-mile jaunt from Atlantic City, an iconic New Jersey destination known for sandy beaches, glitzy casinos, and a lively wooden boardwalk. If basic supplies like gas and groceries are all you need, zip over to nearby towns like Shamong and Tabernacle.