DELAWARE WATER GAP NATIONAL RECREATION AREA – Starting May 27, visitors who wish to use any of the 62 primitive river campsites along the Middle Delaware National Scenic and Recreational River within Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area will have to make a reservation and pay a $16 per site and per night fee.
The fee and reservation system has been successfully piloted at 6 river campsites on the Pennsylvania side of the park known as Alosa since 2015 and is now being expanded to include all river campsites in the park.
“Falling asleep and waking up at primitive boat-in campsite along the banks of a nationally designated scenic and recreational river is a unique and special experience, particularly within one of the most densely populated areas of the country,” said Elizabeth Winslow, fee program manager. “But flooding, resource protection concerns, and other operational constraints have reduced the number of official river campsites over the past two decades while demand for river camping has increased. This has resulted in conflicts among visitors, resource damage, and inappropriate disposal of trash and human waste, all of which is made worse by high-water events associated with storms.”
The expanded reservation and campsite fee initiative is part of a larger strategy outlined in the park’s Visitor Use Management Plan to improve access and enhance visitor experiences while also protecting fragile resources along the Middle Delaware National Scenic and Recreational River, one of the park’s most popular and vulnerable destinations.
“Park staff will monitor the effectiveness of this expanded pilot program as it relates to improving visitor experiences and reducing negative impacts to sensitive resources and may make changes to the program along the way based on feedback and observations,” Winslow said.
The new system allows visitors to make a reservation within one of five designated river zones, selecting from several different sites within that zone upon arrival. The zoned system is intended to disperse use throughout the entire 40-mile river corridor, whereas current use has been concentrated in a few areas where the impacts of overuse are evident.
The five zones are as follows:
- Zone 1- North Park boundary to Milford Beach
- Zone 2- Milford Beach to Dingmans Boat Launch
- Zone 3- Dingmans Boat Launch to Bushkill Boat Launch
- Zone 4- Bushkill Boat Launch to Smithfield Beach
- Zone 5-Smithfield Beach to Kittatinny Point
River campsites have historically been available at no charge on a first-come, first-served basis for those on long-distance river trips. They are only accessible from the river and minimum distances requirements outlined in the Superintendent’s Compendium remain in effect. “Campers are advised to choose a site early in their trip in the event that sites further downstream within the zone for which they have a reservation are already occupied,” added Winslow. “Reservations for one zone are not valid in another.”
Reservations must be made in advance via Recreation.gov. Reservations cannot be made in person and cell phone reception in the area is poor. Amenity fees for parking at launch areas still apply in addition to the campsite fees. Revenue collected through campsite fees will be used to monitor, maintain, and improve existing river campsites.
Those who would like to reserve a specific site rather than make that choice upon arrival may reserve individual sites at the Alosa campsites in PA through the same reservation system and at the same price. Reservations can also be made for the Rivers Bend and Valley View Group Campsites, both of which are open this summer. The cost for group campsites remains $100/site per night.
For additional information on river camping at Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, including maps and regulations, visit Recreation.gov or the park website at River Camping – Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov).
The Visitor Use Management Plan can be found at Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Visitor Use Management Plan, November 2020 (nps.gov).
The Superintendent’s Compendium of Regulations for Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and the Middle Delaware National Scenic and Recreational River can be found at DEWA-CompendiumMay23-2022.pdf (nps.gov).
For more information on Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and the Middle Delaware National Scenic and Recreational River call 1-570-426-2452; visit their website at www.nps.gov/dewa; or follow them on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/DelWaterGapNPS and Instagram at www.Instagram.com/DelWaterGapNPS.