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History & Culture

Though set aside as an area for outdoor recreation, the land of this park is rich in history. The park encompasses significant Native American archeological sites, and several sites have been investigated. A number of structures also remain from early Dutch settlement and the colonial contact period. The entire region was a frontier of the French & Indian War. Historic rural villages from the 18th and 19th centuries remain intact on the New Jersey side, and landscapes of past settlements are scattered throughout the park. In the 19th century, the village of Delaware Water Gap was a focus of the early resort industry fostered by the railroads. Even today the region is known for its vacation appeal. The proposal to dam the Delaware River near today's Smithfield Beach brought the region and its inhabitants into another era of American history--the conservation and environmental movements of the 1960s and later.

Yours To Explore...

• 40 miles of calm river
• 67,000 acres of valley
• the world-famous "Water Gap"
• 100 miles of trails along streams, ridges, and mountains
• 27 miles of the Appalachian Trail
• bountiful wildlife
• waterfalls and rhododendron ravines
• 200 miles of scenic roadways
• historic villages
• 200 structures from the valley's colonial and recent past
• a park formed by a river's might and a people's conservation conviction

Nature & Science

The recreation area encompasses 67,000 acres of mountain ridge, forest, and floodplain on both sides of the Delaware River in the states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Among the more surpising species of animals in the park are black bear, timber rattlesnakes, bald eagles, and, recently, nesting peregrine falcons. Ecosystems include hemlock ravines with bountiful rhodendron and ridgetops with prickly pear cactus. Forty miles of the Middle Delaware River are within the park, as well as trout streams, lakes, ponds, and some of the highest waterfalls of either state. Water quality is exceptional in this section of the valley. The river's path through the mountains includes the S-curves of Walpack Bend and the Delaware Water Gap.

Things To Do:


The Delaware River is the primary focus of recreational activity in the park with canoeing and kayaking, boating, fishing, and swimming. In addition, the recreation area offers more 100 miles of hiking trails, including more than 27 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Also popular are biking, cross-country skiing, and the quieter pursuits of picnicking, birding, and autotouring the scenic countryside. Hunting is permitted in most parts of the recreation area. Those with their own horses can use the horseback riding trails. Within the park are many structures and landscapes that represent the history of the Delaware Valley. In summer, demonstrations and programs enliven the park's Historic Places to Go.

McDade Trail for biking, hiking, and cross-country skiing.