Best Camping in NJ
Are you looking for the best camping in NJ? Join the club! I actually was born and raised in NJ and used to go camping there quite a lot, but I haven’t been camping in NJ, or anywhere for that matter, for about seven years now, so I figured it was high time that I give it another try! Plus, the fall season is the perfect time to go camping in NJ before it gets cold (I am not quite ready for winter camping yet!). The spring is another good time, before it gets too hot. (Note: It turns out that Labor Day weekend is not quite fall … and, my God, it was hot. Like ridiculously hot! Next time, I will wait until the end of September or the beginning of October.)
Editor’s Note: I just learned about Hipcamp and plan to use that to find even more campgrounds to try!
While I was planning my first camping trip in many moons, I researched quite a few campgrounds in NJ, PA, and DE. I hope to camp at quite a few of them over the next year or two, but I decided to begin with a camping trip to Parvin State Park Campground in NJ.
My brother and I actually used to go camping in NJ at Parvin State Park often when we were children; in fact, my family actually “lived” there when I was a 5-year-old during the summer of 1974 while our family was “in between” houses. So, considering all of the childhood memories, and the reasonably close proximity to my home in Phoenixville, PA, I invited my brother to go along and Parvin’s seemed like the logical choice for a “first” camping trip after such a long time.
The first thing I noticed when planning my camping trip at Parvin’s is that the “dog-friendly” campsites seem to be basically the worst sites in the park as far as privacy goes, or, at least according to the map. Fortunately, my brother and my nephew and his girlfriend were also going with us, so we reserved them a campsite near the lake that backed up to the woods and figured that we would spend the majority of the time at their site. Here is the map of our campsites (highlighted in green):
The sites that we selected can actually accommodate either a tent or an RV … but we aren’t quite ready for RV camping yet … since we don’t have an RV!
Of course, since I hadn’t actually been camping in so long, I needed a new tent. After much research, I decided to buy the Field & Stream Wilderness Lodge 4 Person Tent from Amazon. Since it would just be me, Chuck, and our dog Bandit in the tent, this seemed like the perfect size at a good price. But… then Chuck decided that we needed something bigger, so we ultimately went with the Ozark Trail 8-Person Instant Hexagon Cabin Tent.
After I put together a camping checklist, I realized we pretty much had all the other camping equipment we needed, so, after making the reservations, we were pretty much ready to go.
Parvin State Park Campground in NJ
Hidden in the southwestern part of New Jersey, Parvin State Park has a history as varied as its wildlife. The park is situated on the edge of the Pine Barrens and features both pine forests typical to the area as well as a swamp hardwood forest. Back in the 1930’s and 40’s, the park served as home for the Civilian Conservation Corps, a summer camp for the children of displaced Japanese Americans, and a POW camp for German prisoners. In the 1950’s, it served as temporary housing for the Kalmycks who fled their homelands of Eastern Europe.
Well, it turns out that our campsite in Parvin’s was awesome … very close to the bathroom (that’s always a plug), very spacious, lots of shade, and it had a path that led right to the lake, next to my brother’s campsite. Plus, the campground was fairly empty, so we had more privacy than we ever could have imagined.
The first thing we did was get our new tent set up … it is pretty awesome actually. Very large. Chuck could actually stand up inside (he is 6’4″) and it fit 2 queen-sized mattresses (it was so hot, I needed my own), plus a dog bed, plus our luggage … with room to spare. It’s actually too big, but I guess that is better than too small! It really did only take 2 minutes to set up, and it was just as easy to take down IF you read the directions … if you don’t, you will never get it down! It has LED lights inside too!
and, before we knew it, it was time to start cooking dinner. We threw some baked potatoes on the grill and lots of vegetables. Once that was done, we cooked corn on the cob and a few skewers of chicken as well.
My nephew and his girlfriend like to hang tie-dyed tapestries for privacy … and fun … such a good idea!
We had a wonderful time, despite the extreme heat and humidity. We spent the majority of it canoeing, swimming, and just trying to stay cool … and, we will definitely camp here in Parvin’s again in the future.
I went canoeing while were were here … for the first time in YEARS. Unfortunately, I did not take my camera … and yes, there were some seriously camera-worthy moments including a close encounter with a swan…
Reminder-to-Self: ALWAYS bring a camera!!!
We did decide that we would be a little more careful not to camp in 90+ degree heat in the future though…
Here is a list of all the state parks, forests and recreation areas in New Jersey with camping facilities:
NJ State Parks, Forests and Recreation Areas
- Bass River
- Brendan T. Byrne
- High Point
- Jenny Jump
- Kittatinny Valley
- Round Valley
- Spruce Run
- Washington Crossing
As I explore these NJ campgrounds and some privately owned campgrounds in NJ, I will update this page with photos and information about our trips!