16 Great Spots to Go Tent Camping in New Jersey

two tent camping tents

New Jersey offers a lot of great tent camping opportunities for all of us to enjoy.  Whether it’s lake camping, wilderness camping, or camping in the mountains, New Jersey has it all.

Here are 16 great tent camping spots in New Jersey for you to take advantage of.

Allaire State Park

Allaire State Park is unique in that it’s the home of an old iron-making town known as Allaire Village.  The village still operates today but it’s more of a tourist attraction rather than an actual industrial village.  This makes it neat to walk through as you watch artisans practice their crafts as if it were still 1835.

The Manasquan River also runs through the park and it provides guests with opportunities to canoe, kayak, and fish.  There are over 20 miles of hiking and biking trails to take advantage of in the park as well.  These trails are all well marked and they range from easy to moderate so if you’re looking to camp someplace with challenging trails, this state park might not be for you.

Tent Camping Options in Allaire State Park

There are 45 tent and trailer sites to choose from and they’re all within walking distance to flush toilets and showers.  Residents pay $20 a night and non-residents pay $25 a night so it’s a steal of a deal for a night of camping.

Tent camping sites open up in mid-April and they stay open until about mid-October.  If you want to camp in the park outside of those months, you’ll have to stay in one of the shelters instead.

Bass River State Forest

Bass River State Forest is known for its fishing and camping but it’s also a great place to go kayaking, canoeing, and hiking.  The main body of water that sits in the park is actually Lake Absegami but the Bass River does run through the forest as well.

The lake is beautiful and you can catch bass in it so people who go to the forest because of its name won’t be disappointed.  In addition to boating and fishing, you can also swim in the lake as well.

While the trails are nice and well maintained, they are terribly easy.  Go elsewhere if you’re searching for a hardcore hiking adventure.

Tent Camping Options in Bass River State Forest

There are 176 tent and trailer sites.  All sites are within walking distance to flush toilets, showers, and even a laundromat.

The tent camping campsites are open year-round and you won’t have much competition when trying to rent one in the middle of the winter.  If it gets too cold for you, you could also consider one of the lakeside shelters or lakeside cabins.

Belleplain State Park

Belleplain State Park was one of the first state parks I ever visited.  I went there with a neighbor and was surprised to discover that people drove to “the shore”, (that’s what us Pennsylvanians like to call New Jersey), to swim someplace that wasn’t the beach.

I soon found out that people do that because many of the lakes in New Jersey are great and you don’t have to fight with nearly as many crowds when swimming in them.  It’s also great for people with kids because they don’t have to worry about strong currents or undertows as they do when their children are swimming in the ocean.

This state park is another one that is great for camping and spending time on the lake.  A swimming area with lifeguards is located on one side and boating can be done on the rest.

Hiking can be done in the park but the area is flat so you won’t find any tough trails.  This being said, there are 24 miles of trails that are designated for non-motorized use, so you’ll at least have a lot of scenery to walk through while you’re camping at Belleplain.

Here is a nice video of the park.  The music is a bit dramatic but the camera shots of the lake are beautiful.

Tent Camping Options in Belleplain State Park

There are 169 tent and trailer sites at Belleplain.  You can camp in them year-round and you’ll basically have the place to yourself in winter.  In fact, you can beat most of the crowds and the traffic getting there in the warmer months too, just by visiting on a weekday.

Lean-tos with heaters and some shelters are also available for rent but they are a lot more rustic than most cabins in southern New Jersey’s state parks.

Byrne State Forest

Byrne State Forest features ponds, lakes, and a historic village.  Head there in June and you’ll get to attend the annual Whitesbog Blueberry Festival.

In addition to the tourist attractions, the Byrne State Forest also offers many opportunities to enjoy the outdoors.  Within the forest, you’ll be able to kayak, canoe, fish, bike, and hike.

There are over 25 miles of hiking trails within the forest and some of them lead to much longer trails that reside just outside of the forest so you could spend your entire weekend hiking if you wanted to.  Also, the trails aren’t all easy either.  While there are many easy trails to enjoy, there are also some tough trails that extend through thick vegetation.

On top of all of this, some of the trails have been designed for cross country skiing and snowshoeing as well.  Of course, this is kind of a joke considering the average snowfall is less than 5 inches in February and that’s the snowiest month of the year there.

Tent Camping Options in Byrne State Forest

The Byrne State Forest has 82 tent and trailer sites to camp in.  They’re open year-round and they’re all within walking distance to laundry facilities, showers, and toilets that flush.

Cheesequake State Park

Cheesequake State Park is an interesting state park to visit and not just because of its name.  In fact, once you learn that the name is derived from the old Lenape word for “upland”, the name quickly loses its mystique.

The reason this New Jersey camping spot is so interesting is that the park consists of both saltwater and freshwater areas.  Because of this, it ends up consisting of both saltwater and freshwater marshes.  It also features swamplands, pine barrens, hardwood forests, and even open fields.

While you’re in the park, you can go freshwater fishing in Hook’s creek or saltwater fishing in the Cheesequake Creek or Hooks Creek.  There is even a crabbing bridge built overtop of Hooks Creek that you can use to go crabbing.

You can also bring your own car-top boats so canoeing and kayaking is definitely an option.  Just be prepared to carry them from the parking lot as there isn’t vehicle access to the creek.

canoe on nj lake

If boating isn’t an option for you, you can also swim in Hooks Creek Lake.  There is a beach there with lifeguards, restrooms, and even a concession stand that sells snacks as well as beach supplies.

You’ll also find hiking trails at the park and while they are fun and interesting to hike through, they aren’t very long or challenging.  In total, you’ll only have about 8 miles of hiking-only trails to explore at the park.

The trails can also be used for snowshoeing and the open fields can be used for cross country skiing.  Since the park is located in the northern part of New Jersey, you can actually expect some snowfall as well.  The average yearly snowfall for the area is about 25 inches.

Tent Camping Options at Cheesequake State Park

There are 53 tent and trailer sites available at this park.  Some of these sites are pet-friendly and all are within walking distance of toilets and showers.

Campsites are available from April 1st to October 31st.

High Point State Park

Want to camp near the highest point in New Jersey?  If so, High Point State Park is where you want to go.

I personally think this is New Jersey’s best state park and I believe many people would agree with me.

Here is some drone footage for you to enjoy.

The park sits at the top of the state and offers up spectacular views of New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania wilderness areas.  It reaches heights of 1,800 feet above sea level along with a monument and a large and well-maintained observation deck.

You don’t even have to hike to reach this point either.  Although, if you do want to hike while you’re there, you’ll be pleased to know that there are over 50 miles of trails and some of them are challenging which is rare in New Jersey.

There are also additional recreational opportunities that come in the form of beaches for swimming in Lake Marcia and boating opportunities in Sawmill Lake and SteenyKill Lake.  The lakes are also stocked so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to catch fish.

Tent Camping Options in High Point State Park

Eighteen miles of the Appalachian Trail run through the state park and there are some designated overnight shelters that backpackers can take advantage of but stays are limited to one night only.

Additionally, the park offers 50 tent-only campsites.  They are located near flush toilets and they’re available from April 1st to October 31st.

Jenny Jump State Forest

Jenny Jump State Forest is a wonderful place for stargazers who are looking to go tent camping.  This is because the United Astronomy Clubs of New Jersey have set up an observatory there.

In addition to stargazing opportunities, you can also fish, canoe, and kayak in Ghost Lake, Mountain Lake, and Beaver Brook.

Hiking is also pretty good at Jenny Jump as you’ll have about 12 miles of marked trails that reward you with nice mountain views.  The trails aren’t terribly difficult but they aren’t so easy that they’re boring either.

Tent Camping Options in Jenny Jump State Forest

The state park offers 22 tent and trailer sites.  As usual, toilets and showers are close by.

One word of caution when camping here is that you need to practice proper bear safety precautions.  Black bears are frequently seen in this area so you’ll need to be extra careful and bear aware.  The rangers can provide you with additional guidance on this during your stay.

Parvin State Park

If you’ve ever been to the southern beaches of New Jersey, you’ve probably passed right by Parvin State Park without even knowing it.  It’s located not far from route 55 near Vineland inside of Parvin State Forest.

There are three lakes to enjoy within the park and you can even swim in one of them.  A boat launch is available on the lake but you’ll still be restricted to electric motors only.

Hikers will have over 15 miles of trails to enjoy.  These trails are unique in that they pass through forested swamps that are filled with hardwood trees and the flowering plants are especially beautiful in the spring.  This being said, if you’re prone to allergies, you may want to keep in mind that there are over 200 different flowering plant species located along the trails.

Tent Camping Options in Parvin State Park

Parvin State Park has 56 tent and trailer sites that can be rented.  Toilets, showers, and laundry facilities aren’t far from these sites.

There are also 18 furnished cabins available as well.  These cabins have modern appliances and plumbing and they can be rented out for as little as $55.00 a night.

Round Valley Recreation Area

The Round Valley Recreation Area is unique in that it offers wilderness tent camping campsites that must be canoed to or backpacked to.  If you decide to make the backpacking trip, expect to hike anywhere from three to six miles from your vehicle.

Within the park, you’ll be able to boat, swim, fish, hunt, hike, and bike.  In total, there are about 13 miles of trails to enjoy.

The main draw, however, is the reservoir.  It’s 2,350 acres large and can reach depths of 180 feet.  Estimates say that it holds about 55 billion gallons of water so you’ll have plenty of water to enjoy yourself in.

Motorboats of up to 10hp can be used within the reservoir as well as kayaks, canoes, rowboats, and other unpowered boats.  Swimming can be done from the reservoir’s beach, which is protected by lifeguards.

Here is a quick overview video of the area.

Tent Camping Options in Round Valley Recreation Area

Tent camping is a bit more rustic at Round Valley Recreation Area as you won’t find flush toilets or showers near your campsite.  Instead, you’ll find drinking water and pit toilets located close to the 85 wilderness campsites.

Spruce Run Recreation Area

The Spruce Run Recreation Area is known for its reservoir as well as its access to hiking trails.  In the reservoir, you can boat, fish, kayak, canoe, and swim.

Lifeguards are on duty at the beach and boat rentals are available near the campground.  You can even pay to have your boat stored right next to the reservoir and many people do just that.

If you’re more into hiking than you are boating, you’ll be glad to know that you can access the Highlands Trail through the recreational center.  This trail runs for 150 miles and it provides views of the mountains as well as the Hudson River.

This area is very popular and it can get crowded during the summer months.  For a quieter stay, you may want to consider visiting the area in early spring or late summer.

Tent Camping Options in the Spruce Run Recreation Area

The camping areas are open from April 1st to October 31st and you’ll be able to choose from one of 67 tent and trailer sites.  These sites are within walking distance to flush toilets and showers.

Reservations can be made for these sites, but walk-ins are also accepted.

Stephens State Park

Stephens State Park is one of the few state parks in the state that has a rock climbing area.  It’s located near Waterloo Village, which is a restored 19th-century village that features the usual tourist attractions that you’ll find in quite a few New Jersey State Parks.

You’ll also find areas to hunt in, to fish in, and to hike through within the park.  The Musconetcong River offers fishing, 470 acres of land offer hunting, and six miles of marked trails provide nice areas for hiking, biking, and horseback riding.

Tent Camping Options at Stephens State Park

There are 40 tent and trailer sites close to flush toilets and showers.  You can rent these sites out for as little as $20.00 from April through October.

Stokes State Forest

Stokes State Forest is known for its overlooks, its lakes, and its hiking trails.

Swimming on the lake is prohibited but you can fish and boat on them.  Both paddleboards and kayaks are available for rent on the weekends.

The Appalachian Trail runs through the forest and on top of this, they have an additional 33 miles of marked trails you can use.  These trails can be challenging but they offer some great views of the surrounding areas.

In fact, the Sunrise Mountain Scenic Overlook offers up views from 1,653 feet above sea level.  See them in the video below!

Tent Camping Options at Stokes State Forest

There are a couple of different tent camping options for you to choose from.  You can stay in one of the 82 tent and trailer sites in the forest or one of the 27 tent and pop-up camper sites in the Steam Mill camping area.

The first option will offer up some year-round camping spots and the second option will put you in close proximity to an artisan well that you can drink from.  Either way, you can’t go wrong.

If you want to get out of the tent, you can opt to rent one of the ten furnished cabins, but you’ll have to rent it for a full week during the busy months of summer.

Swartswood State Park

Swartswood State Park is the oldest state park in New Jersey.  It is the home of Swartswood Lake which offers visitors the chance to swim, fish, canoe, kayak, and sail.

You can hike in this state park as well but you won’t have a whole lot of options.  There are nine marked trails throughout the park, but they add up to less than 10 miles.  The one redeeming factor when it comes to hiking is that many of the trails do provide beautiful views of the lakes.

Tent Camping Opportunities in Swarstwood State Park

There are 65 tent and trailer sites in the park and some of them are pet-friendly.  They’re available for use between April 1st and October 31st.

The campsites are in close proximity to the lake but if you want to actually be on the lake, you’ll need to rent out one of the rustic shelters.

Voorhees State Park

One of the most interesting features of this state park is the fact that the new Jersey Astronomical Association has placed an observatory and astronomy education center within the park.  The association graciously allows people to use their 26-inch Cassegrain reflector for free.

This is the largest working telescope available to the public in New Jersey so it’s a really noteworthy feature.

You can also fish in the Willoughby Brook and hike through ten miles of trails.  One of these trails has been designated as a fitness circuit so you won’t have to miss your workout when you camp there.

Tent Camping Options in Voorhees State Park

There are 47 tent and trailer sites available from April to October.  Flush toilets and showers are available and when they’re not, portable toilets are brought in instead.

Wharton State Forest

Wharton State Forest is full of rivers, streams, lakes, hiking trails, mountain biking trails, and a wide array of campgrounds that you can tent camp in.  It’s basically an outdoor lover’s paradise.

On top of this, it also holds a historic village that you can walk through.  Take your smartphone and you can turn this walking tour into a guided walking tour and it won’t cost you any money to do so.

Here is some drone footage of the village.

Don’t tire yourself out walking through the town though as there are a lot of miles of hiking trails you’ll need to explore.  In fact, there are 110 miles of marked trails within the forest for you to enjoy.

You may also need to save some energy to backpack to your camping destination as some of the sites can only be accessed by hiking to them.

Tent Camping Options in Wharton State Forest

There are 8 different campgrounds that you can camp in within the forest.  Some of these can be used for as little as $3.00 a night for residents and $5.00 a night for non-residents.

Worthington State Forest

Worthington State Forest offers challenging hiking trails and beautiful views in a state that is otherwise mostly flat.  It sits right on the border of Pennsylvania so you can actually spend the day hiking in both states if you like.

A small portion of the Appalachian Trail is also within Worthington and a backpacking campsite is close by.

If you’d rather fish or spend time on a canoe or kayak, you can visit the Dunnfield Creek Natural Area or Sunfish Pond Natural Area.

Tent Camping Options in Worthington State Forest

There are 69 tent and trailer sites and they are open from April 1st to December 31st.  Modern toilets and showers can be found within walking distance.

Final Thoughts

New Jersey has a lot of tent camping options to choose from and they’re all worth visiting at some point.  Please bookmark this page so that you’ll be able to come back to it each time you plan a new trip.

Spots to Camp in New Jersey
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Christopher Schopf

Christopher Schopf like to write about hiking, camping, snowshoeing, kayaking, and anything else that gets him outside.

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