By Kathleen Kraemer
The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is celebrating its fiftieth birthday this year!
Congress established the park in 1965 in an attempt to “preserve the natural, cultural, and scenic resources and values of the Delaware River Valley and provide opportunities for recreation, education, and enjoyment in close proximity to the most densely populated region of the nation.”
Many things have changed since 1965, but the goals of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area have remained the same.
With 40 miles of the Delaware River, 67,000 acres of beautiful landscape, and hundreds of miles of hiking trails, the area has no shortage of things to do and beautiful sights to see.
The recreation area, which spans Pennsylvania and New Jersey, is also home to 28 miles of the Appalachian Trail.
There are several ways to immerse oneself in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. McDade Recreational Trail provides 32 miles of packed gravel paths for biking, hiking, running, and cross-country skiing.
If you need to take a swim to cool off, there are three lifeguarded beaches along the river: Milford, Smithfield, and Turtle Beaches. Lifeguards are on duty during weekends from mid-June through August. While a lot of activities in the area are free, the beaches do charge a small fee between April and October.
Another way to enjoy the nature of the Water Gap is to travel down the river by kayak, canoe, raft, or tube. You can bring your own water transportation and launch from any of the many boat launches or rent from one of the local rental businesses and have them take care of your transportation and launching needs.
There are also countless hiking trails, which take you through the woods and allow you to observe the natural beauty of the area.
If you decide to partake in the experience that the Delaware Water Gap provides, remember to be courteous and thoughtful to the people who will come after you and to the plants and animals that live there.
The various types of landscapes within the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area make it habitable for a wide range of wild animals. More than 60 species of fish call the Delaware River and its many tributaries home.
Among others, you can find herons, otters, white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, foxes, coyotes, bobcats, raccoons, owls, toads and salamanders, groundhogs, cottontail rabbits, weasels, skunks, flying squirrels, bears, 25 species of frogs, and six species of bats living in the area.
Over 260 species of birds have been identified throughout the recreation area. Recently, a nest of Bald Eagles was spotted. Bald Eagles were once on the endangered species list, but they have since made a recovery and been removed. That being said, a successful nest is still a big deal and a beautiful sight.
Bald Eagles, however, are easily disturbed by the presence of humans. They will leave the area if they feel that a human has gotten too close. They are incredible to watch, but be sure to keep your distance!
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