Step back in time to the 1800s at the Millbrook Village. Bask in the beauty of glacier-carved rocks with cascading waterfalls. Sleep under the stars after a day of kayaking the river.
Where can you experience all of these things? At the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.
Let’s learn more about this particular area of the East, including the wildlife that calls this land and water “home.”
What Is the Delaware Water Gap?
Nestled along the border of Pennsylvania and New Jersey is the Delaware Water Gap, a place where the Delaware River cuts through a large ridge of the Appalachian Mountains. It’s approximately 980 feet across at river level and 4,600 feet wide at the top. The Delaware Water Gap is the southern portion of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.
Cloaked in a northern deciduous forest, the Delaware Water Gap is home to oaks, elms, walnuts, beech trees, and more. You’ll find black bears, white-tailed deer, gray squirrels, bass, trout, timber rattlesnakes, copperheads, and more wildlife in the area. Outdoor recreational activities are also common here, including hiking, fishing, and canoeing.
Pro Tip: After exploring the Delaware Water Gap, head to Pennsylvania and use our Ultimate Poconos Camping Guide for an exciting adventure.
Why Do They Call It Delaware Water Gap?
A water gap is where a river cuts through mountains. Hundreds of millions of years ago, the movement of tectonic plates formed the Highlands and Kittatinny Valley.
Through the pressure of the collision, the quartzite melted, thus forming cracks. The Delaware River began making its way through the cracks to form what we know today as the Delaware Water Gap.
Are There Wolves in the Delaware Water Gap?
The Lakota Wolf Preserve in Columbia, N.J., is home to packs of British Columbian, Timber, and Arctic wolves. They offer guided tours by reservation only.
Even if you don’t book a tour, you’ll likely hear the howling of wolves through the mountains of the Delaware Water Gap at night. That’s because the Lakota Wolf Preserve is in the southern portion of the recreation area.
What Animals Live in the Delaware Water Gap?
One reason guests love to visit the Delaware Water Gap is the opportunity to see wildlife in their natural habitats. However, with this excitement also comes a bit of danger. Make sure to never approach wildlife. Keep a safe distance between you and the animal.
If you’re camping, keep food stored away in a bear-proof container. If you’re hiking, always keep your pets on a leash. You don’t want a dangerous interaction between a dog and a black bear.
In addition to black bears, timber rattlesnakes and copperheads are common venomous snakes in the area. Never stick your hands where you can’t see them, and always watch your step. Please keep a firm grasp on your little ones when hiking.
Other animals that live in the Delaware Water Gap region include frogs, salamanders, bald eagles, bobcats, coyotes, and painted turtles. Most of the animals are quite harmless and are more scared of humans than we are of them.
Can You Swim in the Delaware Gap?
There are over 100 miles of hiking trails in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Popular hikes include Mt. Tammany, Mt. Minsi, Raymondskill Falls, Dingmans Falls, Hackers Falls, and Buttermilk Falls. There are also three swimming beaches within the area, but don’t bring inflatable pool toys as these are not permitted.
It’s also important to know where you’re allowed to swim because there are numerous locations where swimming is prohibited. These locations include Van Campen Brook, Big Flatbrook Creek, Delaware River at Kittatinny Point, Toms Creek, and Adams Creek. They are within 50 feet of boat launches and 50 feet upstream of waterfalls.
Milford, Smithfield, and Turtle Beaches are the only designated swim areas in Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Lifeguards are present from mid-June through Labor Day. When you plan your visit, wear proper shoes to protect your feet from sharp stones.
And don’t expect to see the sandy beaches along the Atlantic. Here you’ll find soft grass on which to have a picnic and enjoy the day.
Can You Drive Through Delaware Water Gap?
The Delaware Water Gap provides beautiful scenery for an afternoon drive. There are three overlooks along PA 611 for spectacular views.
If you only have a couple of hours to explore the area, a drive along the Delaware Water Gap is a great option. In addition to PA 611, US 209 and Old Mine Road offer beautiful scenic drives for visitors.
Is the Delaware Gap Dog Friendly?
Leashed pets are allowed on many trails in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. However, some are not dog-friendly. Make sure to check out the rules before heading out with your four-legged friend. For example, in Pennsylvania, pets cannot go to the Raymondskill Falls Recreation Site or Dingmans Falls Visitor Center and Recreation Site.
In New Jersey, pets can’t go to the Kittatinny Point Picnic Area, Rivers Bend Group Campsites, or Turtle Beach between Memorial Day and Labor Day. But the majority of the recreation area is dog-friendly.
Pro Tip: On the hunt for an epic outdoor adventure? Check out these 22 Must See National Parks in 2022.
Is Delaware Water Gap Worth Visiting?
The Delaware Water Gap is a beautiful section of the Appalachian Mountains in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Are you an outdoor enthusiast? You’ll love the recreational opportunities here. If you’re a family looking for a weekend adventure, plan a camping trip and enjoy the hiking trails and fishing excursions.
If you’re looking for a relaxing getaway, take a drive and enjoy the scenery. Whether it’s the blooms of spring or the colors of fall, you’ll appreciate all the Delaware Water Gap offers.
When will you visit the border of Pennsylvania and New Jersey? Tell us in the comments!
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