400—that’s the number of national park sites in the United States—and 6 of these destinations are right here in New Jersey. Through Every Kid Outdoors, a national-funded government initiative, your fourth grader and their guests (hi mom and dad) can get a free pass to explore all of America’s federal lands and waters spanning millions of acres. Whether it’s Acadia in Maine, the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, or Hawaii’s Volcanos, the sky’s the limit to where your family can go and do. Scroll down to read why the pass is a great learning tool and where you can start using it in the Garden State. Featured Photo Credit: (istock/ Tom Mendola)
New Jersey’s national parks include acres of farm, forest, and wetlands. Photo Credit:(istock/BWMurphy)
How being in nature helps kids learn
If you’ve got kids ages 9-11, then here’s a fact that you might not know: These tweens are in a unique developmental stage where they begin to understand how the world around them works in more concrete ways. What this means is they are more receptive to new ideas and most likely curious about nature and the environment. That’s why Every Kid Outdoors is a great opportunity—your family can enjoy these federal lands and waters during this crucial stage of learning. The ultimate reward? Inspiring stewardship of these outdoor spaces for future generations.
Ready to plan?
We found 6 home-grown NJ destinations that accept Every Kid Outdoor passes, so you don’t have to travel far. And when you do hit the road, following park etiquettes like picking up litter and being mindful of animals or habitats will teach your kids how to respect and preserve the parks so their kids and grandkids can someday enjoy it too.
Here are 6 awesome NJ parks you can go to now
Morristown National Historical Park
Despite limited resources, Morristown served as quarters for the Continental Army on two occasions—the winter of 1777 and again during the Hard Winter of 1779. Follow the army and George Washington’s trail through the park via the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National History Trail.
Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park
Paterson Great Falls, America’s first planned industrial city, offers historic mills, tours, and stories of Alexander Hamilton.
Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge
The Wallkill refuge conserves the biological diversity of the Wallkill Valley by protecting and managing land, with a particular emphasis on forest-dwelling and grassland birds, migrating waterfowl, wintering raptors, and endangered species.
New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve
This is truly a special place—it’s classified as a United States Biosphere Reserve and, in 1978, was established by Congress as the country’s first National Reserve. It includes portions of seven southern New Jersey counties and encompasses over one-million acres of farms, forests, and wetlands.
Thomas Edison National Historical Park (Grounds are open, but most buildings remain closed. Look for reopening plans in late spring).
Thomas Edison National Historical Park features America’s greatest inventor’s home and laboratory in its original condition.
Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge trails are open, but the visitor center is temporarily closed)
The Edwin B. Forsythe refuge protects more than 47,000 acres of southern New Jersey coastal habitats, which manages migratory birds.
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