Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge Travel Guide

Explore the great outdoors and learn about the rich cultural history of Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge with this comprehensive tour guide. Discover museums, hiking and biking trails, natural attractions, local cuisine, lodging options, and tips for a safe and exciting trip.

Introduction to Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

Nestled in Morris County, Skylands, New Jersey, Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge is a paradise for nature-lovers and cultural enthusiasts alike. Covering over 7,700 acres of lush wetlands, forests, and grasslands, Great Swamp is home to an amazing array of flora and fauna, making it one of the best places in the Mid-Atlantic region to experience the beauty and diversity of America’s natural wonders. Whether you’re in the mood for a peaceful hike, a scenic bike ride, or a fascinating tour of the region’s rich history and culture, Great Swamp has something for everyone.

List of Places to Visit in Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums and Historical Places

  • Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center: Learn about the natural and cultural history of the region through interactive exhibits, guided walks, and special events.
  • Friends of Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge Nature Center: This volunteer-run center offers educational programs, exhibits, and nature-themed gifts and souvenirs.
  • Somerset County Environmental Education Center: This hands-on learning center features exhibits, nature trails, and educational programs for all ages.

Natural Attractions of Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge: Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

  • Wildlife Observation Center: Observe a variety of wildlife including birds, mammals, and amphibians from the comfort of an observation blind.
  • Bluebird Trail: Follow the bluebird trail for a leisurely walk, and keep an eye out for these beautiful birds amongst the scenic views.
  • Loantaka Brook Reservation: Hike, bike, or just enjoy a peaceful stroll through this stunning nature reserve located within the park.

Hiking/Biking Routes of Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

Great Swamp is a hiker’s and biker’s paradise, with over 8 miles of trails where visitors can explore the natural beauty of the wetland and forest habitats. Popular trails include:

  • Green Trail: A 1.5-mile loop trail that meanders through the forest and wetland.
  • Orange Trail: A 2.8-mile loop trail that offers scenic views of the swamp and its inhabitants.
  • Blue Trail: A 4.5-mile loop trail that leads you through stunning wetlands and meadows.

Best Things to Do in Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge: Activities and Tours

  • Family Fishing: Grab a rod and tackle and enjoy a relaxing day of fishing with your family on the banks of the Sawmill Brook.
  • Photo Tours: Great Swamp is a photographer’s dream come true, with a wide variety of flora and fauna to capture.
  • Guided Nature Walks: From birdwatching to fauna spotting, there are plenty of opportunities to learn about Great Swamp’s natural habitats with a knowledgeable guide.

Week-Long Itinerary for Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

Day 1: Explore the nature trails and wildlife observation center. Day 2: Learn about the history and culture of the region at Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center. Day 3: Take a guided nature walk or participate in a wildlife photography tour. Day 4: Enjoy a picnic at the Loantaka Brook Reservation. Day 5: Go fishing or biking in the park. Day 6: Visit the Somerset County Environmental Education Center. Day 7: Indulge in local cuisine at one of the restaurants in the area, and bring back souvenirs to remember your adventure.

Food and Drink Scene of Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

Must-Try Dishes

  • Taylor Ham, Egg, and Cheese Sandwich: A New Jersey classic, this breakfast sandwich is a must-try for visitors.
  • Tomato Pie: A delicious twist on the classic pizza, tomato pie features a crispy crust, tangy tomato sauce, and fresh herbs.
  • Saltwater Taffy: This classic sweet treat is a must-try for those with a sweet tooth.

Local Beverages

  • Newark Pale Ale: A locally-brewed beer that pairs perfectly with the region’s tasty cuisine.
  • Freshly Squeezed Lemonade: The perfect drink to cool down on a hot summer day.

Where to Stay in Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge: Hotels, Hostels, and Guesthouses

  • Olde Mill Inn: A charming and cozy inn that’s perfect for a romantic getaway.
  • Embassy Suites by Hilton: A spacious hotel that offers modern amenities and beautiful views of the swamp.

What to Buy in Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge: Souvenirs and Local Products to Bring Home

  • Handmade Soap: Made from natural ingredients found in the swamp, these soaps will leave your skin feeling soft and clean.
  • Local Honey: Take a jar of honey home as a souvenir and add it to your favorite recipes.
  • Handcrafted Pottery: There are many local artists who create beautiful pottery pieces inspired by the natural beauty of the swamp.

Local Culture and Customs of Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

Great Swamp is a region rich in history and culture, with a vibrant arts scene and a deep connection to its natural environment. Visitors are encouraged to immerse themselves in the local culture by participating in festivals, art exhibits, and other community events. Respect the environment by taking all rubbish with you and leaving the area cleaner than you found it.

Best Time to Visit Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

The best time to visit Great Swamp is during the spring and fall months when the weather is mild, and the foliage is at its most vibrant. Summer can be hot and humid, while winter can be very cold, making it challenging to explore the park’s natural surroundings.

Do’s and Don’ts of Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge


  • Follow the park’s rules and regulations.
  • Respect the natural environment by taking care of the plants and animals.
  • Leave no rubbish behind and take only memories with you.
  • Carry plenty of water and insect repellent.


  • Leave the marked trails.
  • Feed the wildlife.
  • Damage the natural habitats.
  • Litter.

Safety and Health

Safety in Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

  • Carry a map of the park and a fully charged cell phone.
  • Stay on the marked trails and avoid isolated areas.
  • Be aware of the weather conditions and dress accordingly.
  • Watch for snakes and ticks.

Health in Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

  • Stay hydrated and avoid dehydration by drinking lots of water.
  • Protect against tick bites by using bug repellents and wearing long sleeves.
  • Wear comfortable and appropriate footwear for hiking.

Getting to Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge: Transportation Options and Logistics

Airports Near Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

  • Newark Liberty International Airport: 30 miles away from the park.
  • LaGuardia Airport: 55 miles away from the park.

Bus Stations Near Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

  • Greyhound Bus Station: 5 miles away from the park.
  • New Jersey Transit Bus Station: 10 miles away from the park.

Other Options

  • Car: Great Swamp is easily accessible by car, and there is ample parking available.
  • Bicycle: Visitors can bike to the park using local bike paths.

How to Get Around in Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

The best way to get around Great Swamp is by hiking or biking. There are over 8 miles of trails that offer stunning views of the natural surroundings. Visitors can also explore the park by car.

Where to Go Next from Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge: Nearby Destinations and Excursions

  • Jockey Hollow: This historic site is part of Morristown National Historical Park and offers a glimpse into the lives of George Washington’s Revolutionary War soldiers.
  • Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary: A birdwatcher’s paradise, this wildlife sanctuary is just a few miles away from Great Swamp.
  • Morristown National Historical Park: Learn about the area’s rich history and America’s fight for independence at this important national landmark.


Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge is a wonderful destination for travelers who want to experience the natural beauty and cultural richness of America’s Mid-Atlantic region. With its stunning scenery, fascinating history and culture, and exciting outdoor activities, Great Swamp is a must-visit destination for anyone who loves nature and adventure. Plan your trip today and discover the magic of this amazing natural wonderland.