Best Tent Camping: New Jersey, Matt Willen, Worthington State Forest, New Jersey camping

Best Camping in Northern New Jersey

The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (DWGNRA) has always been a bit of an enigma to me. In spite of its size (it spans over 70,000 acres in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania along the Delaware River), its extensive natural scenery, and its vast array of outdoor activities, the availability of public campgrounds around the gap is pretty much limited to two—one on each side of the river. Luckily, both of them are really nice campgrounds that are especially well-suited to tent camping. In Pennsylvania, you’ll find Dingmans Campground on US 209 just south of Dingmans Ferry (featured in my new book Best Tent Camping: Pennsylvania). On the New Jersey side of the river, you’ll find the Worthington State Forest Campground.

Best Tent Camping: New Jersey, Matt Willen, Worthington State Forest, New Jersey camping

The campground road in the tent-only camping area at Worthington State Forest

Although technically not part of the DWGNRA, Worthington State Forest is bordered to the north and south by the DWGNRA and to the west by the Delaware River (technically also part of the recreation area). So staying at the Worthington Campground provides easy access to many of the natural and historical sites in the DWGNRA on the New Jersey side of the river. I visited the campground just a couple of weeks ago at the height of fall color, and I was really impressed by what I found there.

Best Tent Camping: New Jersey, Matt Willen, Worthington State Forest, New Jersey camping

The view across the Delaware River to the Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort in Pennsylvania

At 82 sites, the campground is not massive. It does, however, cover quite a bit of terrain along the banks of the Delaware. I would estimate a couple of miles at least. The campground is divided into two main family camping areas, in addition to an area of three group sites. The sites that are most suitable for tent camping are numbers 1 to 23, which are designated as tent only. These are located along the campground access road, south from the Worthington Forest Office where you’ll register for the sites. With little exception, these sites are huge and quite private. Many are located riverside. With the exception of sites 1-4, which open on the second Friday in May, the rest of the sites open on the second Friday in April. All of them close on October 31.

Best Tent Camping: New Jersey, Matt Willen, Worthington State Forest, New Jersey camping

Camp on a fall day on the banks of the Delaware River.

The camping at these sites is rather primitive in terms of amenities, with pit toilets and no showers. But there is drinking water available, and the location is great. The rest of the campground is located north from the forest office, and the sites there are all distributed around a large grass field. Although the sites are all very large, they don’t offer as much privacy as the tent camping sites. But this part of the campground does have showers, ADA accessible restrooms, a playground, and lots of room to run around. This part of the campground is suitable for RVs, and it is worth noting that there are no electric hook-ups, so you may encounter a fair share of generator noise.

Best Tent Camping: New Jersey, Matt Willen, Worthington State Forest, New Jersey camping

A camper enjoys a cup of coffee on a fall morning at one of the large upstream campsites.

Reservations can be made online for the campground at www.reserveamerica.com. The cost of camping is $20 for New Jersey residents and $25 for non-residents.

Best Tent Camping: New Jersey, Matt Willen, Worthington State Forest, New Jersey camping

Early morning on the Delaware River

Matt Willen
matt@mattwillen.com

Matt got into outdoor exploration as an adolescent by making trips to New England with his family and friends. In the late 70s, he moved out west to ski and spend more time outdoors. He eventually earned a degree in outdoor education, and began working in the wilderness service program at the Armand Hammer United World College in New Mexico and for the Colorado Outward Bound School. As a traveler, Matt has sought out those unusual places that few people ever think about visiting. From the tip of South America to the remote northwest reaches of Iceland, from Newfoundland and Labrador to the Indian reservations in northern Arizona, he repeatedly goes off of the beaten path to see what surprises might be found in places that don’t show up on most peoples’ radars and what might be learned from the people who live in these places. He brings that same curiosity about places and people to his work close to home as well. In addition to have having written a dozen or so articles on various subject, he is author of The Best Tent Camping: PA and 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Harrisburg, both of which have come out in second editions this year. His Best Hikes of the Appalachian Trail: Mid-Atlantic will be published by Menasha Ridge Press in time for the holidays. And he is currently working on a second edition to Best Tent Camping: New Jersey as well as a book of travel essays on the eastern shore of Nova Scotia.

3 Comments
  • I love camping on the Delaware river!

    February 25, 2017 at 1:55 pm
  • I absolutely love your post.Over the years I have found that people put too much emphasis on “cost and price ” versus stating the history and benefits of camping. Understanding campground and history are very important.

    Again, excellent info!

    Cheers,

    Jamillah

    Camper :http://bestsleepingbagreviews.siterubix.com/

    September 2, 2017 at 4:01 pm

Post a Comment