There are many things to do in Delaware Water Gap and that is mainly because the most interesting attractions are all along the river which make it easy to access but if you are unsure of where to go or what to see, this post is going to help you explore the 11 most awesome places there.
Quick info on the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation area:
- Name: Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.
- Location: New Jersey.
- What is it? It’s one of the most popular nature destinations in NJ for waterfalls, hikes and more.
- Family friendly? There are many family friendly things to do here.
- Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
- Recommended? Yes! There’s a lot of things to do in the Delaware Water Gap whether you want to go there for a day trip or longer and the list below provides a lot of ideas on all of that.
Here is a summary of the 11 things to do in Delaware Water Gap:
- Kayaking the Delaware River.
- Hiking Mt. Tammany trail.
- Do the Delaware Water Gap scenic drive.
- Staying at the Pocono Mountain Villas.
- Exploring Bushkill Falls.
- Exploring Silverthread Falls.
- Also exploring Dingman’s Falls.
- Raymondskill Falls.
- Explore Milford, PA.
- Check out High Point State Park.
Let’s begin with a Delaware Water Gap map:
Now as you can see from the map, there is a whole green area (outlined in red) which stretches north for about 30 miles, but the official location of the “gap” is in Pennsylvania (not Delaware state). I also know a few people who think that NY state is connected to it (it’s not). I recommend starting your trip to this spot in the southern end (where you see it says Mt. Tammany Red Dot Trail) as shown on the map above, and working your way up like we did.
This region crosses through the Appalachian Mountains too so if you enjoy long hikes, you’ll find one of the longest ones in the world here. But the reason I recommend starting here is because the things I recommend doing are best to be done in order from south to north. Some of the best hikes are in the south, but some of the best places to see and explore (sight seeing basically) are in the north part of the Delaware Water Gap region.
What to do in Delaware Water Gap: Details on the 11 activities.
The following are the things recommend doing which start from the southern section of the gap and go up to the very northern end of it:
1) Camping out in the regions close to the gap:
Since it’s the most scenic area, you will find plenty of camping areas there and the last time I was in a camping area there was years ago, but many of the spots are close to the river so you can enjoy great views. Here is info on camping in the Delaware Water Gap region.
Warning: Just a heads up, the Delware Water Gap has snakes as well as ticks especially close to the river.
2) Kayak through the Delaware River:
Since the Delaware River literally crosses through this area, you can enjoy water activities there and kayaking is certainly one of them, but you can also try tubing and canoeing, especially during the summer. Going through the actual “gap” area is very scenic and you will find numerous rental spots for this across the area (here is info on kayaks in the Delaware Water Gap).
3) Try the Mount Tammany trail (one of the best hikes in Delaware Water Gap):
While there’s many great hikes across Delaware Water Gap, the most popular is the Mount Tammany hike (it’s also one of the hardest). This trail is about 4 miles long, I’ve personally done it numerous times and provide a resource for the Mount Tammany trail here to check out. It’ll help you figure out the best way to do it, because the most “normal” way is pretty difficult and you can navigate it a few different ways, including one which takes you to this beautiful swimming hole:
Here’s the most common way to navigate this trail:
- Start with the red one and work your way up to the summit where you’ll see the views I did at the top of this post.
- Then right at the summit, as long you continue on the red trail, it’ll interconnect with the blue trail.
- Take the blue trail down and you’ll hit that swimming hole we found a few miles down.
- Continue on blue to finish the trail loop.
Mount Tammany is one of the best hikes near NYC in my opinion.
4) Do the Delaware Water Gap scenic drive (3 options):
There is a scenic drive in Delaware Water Gap you can check out, but the bad news about it is that few parts of that drive are actually scenic, and that’s because in my experience there are only a few parts of the Delaware Water Gap drive where it’s very scenic and worth exploring. Here are the top areas to explore for that experience:
- Interstate 80 drive when you actually reach the Delaware Water Gap (southern end).
- Then if you continue on Interstate 80, you’ll cross a bridge and enter Pennsylvania where it’s also pretty scenic, but for a short bit.
- Another option is to take the main scenic drive through road 209. That connects with Interstate 80 if you’re coming from the bottom and takes you through the Delaware Water Gap.
The bad news is that most of the time, this road is not scenic but the good news is that this same road is what will take you through the best stops in Delaware Water Gap, meaning waterfall hikes, trails, and towns. So I would do this drive if you intend to fully explore the gap.
5) Consider staying at the Pocono Mountain Villas if you plan a multi day trip:
When I was younger, this is where my father would take me. We would go with his friends, and their kids, and this area is right off the 209 route and allows you to enjoy most of the beautiful spots located within the Delaware Water Gap.
There were many hiking trails near this spot, horseback riding stables and more activities to do, including the 10 on this list. Now you’ll find other villas and areas to stay at there too, but this is where I used to be when I visited. It gets mixed reviews today so keep that in mind.
6) Check out Bushkill Falls:
As far as I know, Bushkill Falls is one of the most popular Delaware Water Gap attractions and I did check it out years ago when I was staying at the Pocono Mountain Villas. This area is a scenic walk across a nature trail which is easy to go through and there’s steps and walkways made for people to enjoy the different waterfalls there. One thing to note is that the hikes here are pretty much for beginners so if you’re looking for challenging stuff, this might not be the best place for that, but it is very scenic.
7) Visit Silverthread Falls:
If you’re not into long nature walks but want to see beautiful waterfalls, then this is where I’d stop at. Silverthread Falls is literally about 200 feet away from the parking lot and the path to it is a wooden walkway.
I assume it’s called silver thread because of how skinny it is, and because from a distance, it looks like a skinny string thread. But it is closed off so you can’t really hike to it, but you can see it from a distance and while it’s skinny, I have to say it’s very beautiful. And fortunately, this isn’t the only waterfall you’ll see on this trail. There’s another, which is even large and probably even better looking. It is called:
8) Dingman’s Falls (one of the best Delaware Water Gap waterfalls you’ll see):
Dingmans Falls is about 1,000 feet away from Silverthread Falls and on the same wooden trail that is easy to walk on. Unfortunately access to get very close to this waterfall is blocked and that picture I took was about 30 feet away from it. Now I want to make a suggestion and that is if you enjoy going up waterfalls and getting close to these types of spots, then you can explore places like the Catskills in New York, which offer a lot of awesome adventures and waterfalls that you can walk up to.
As much as I like the Delaware Water Gap, the limits on what I cansee and get close to is often deal breaker in that I prefer to visit places where I can get a better and closer experiences to beautiful things like waterfalls.
9) Check out Raymondskill Falls:
Raymondskill Falls is another 100+ foot waterfall in the Delaware Water Gap area (particularly the northern section of it). There is a very short hiking trail to this spot as well and it loops for about half a mile, but there’s 2 overlooks to this trail, one which takes you to the top of the falls, which wasn’t very scenic, and a bottom one which is the area where I took this following picture.
As with the other waterfalls, access to the base of the waterfall is blocked off and you could only see it from a scenic overlook, obviously because it’s dangerous to get close to it. But this was also a very scenic falls and the hiking trail to this spot is very short, but a bit steep.
10) Check out Milford PA (it’s near the Delaware Water Gap):
This town is very scenic, and is probably the most beautiful on the route 209 path (certainly during fall). You can stop here after exploring the Delaware Water Gap as it has many awesome restaurants and attractions.
11) Explore High Point State Park:
There’s literally a day’s worth of activities to do in High Point State Park, and I’ve included an article to a post showing that but here’s what you need to know:
- High Point State Park is at the northern most tip of the Delaware Water Gap area and has the highest point in the area you can explore, which has some of the best hiking trails in NJ, a beach, and the most notable feature which is a giant tower at it’s highest point.
- High Point State Park is actually in the New Jersey side of the Delaware Water Gap and I highly recommend exploring this park if you get the chance! In my opinion, it’s a great way to finish your exploration of this region.
- Both High Point State Park and Delaware Water Gap are awesome places for day trips from NYC.
Most common questions about Delaware Water Gap (and answers):
What is the Delaware Water Gap known for?
Delaware Water Gap is mainly known for being a very scenic place for boating, hiking, camping and exploring beautiful parts of NJ and PA.
Can you swim in the Delaware Water Gap?
Yes, there are numerous spots in Delaware Water Gap where you can swim. Avoid the main river areas though as the currents are very dangerous there.
Is the Delaware Water Gap a hard hike?
There are many hikes in Delaware Water Gap and Mount Tammany is the most popular. That hike is considered difficult.
Do you have to pay to get into Delaware Water Gap?
No, but there are places within Delaware Water Gap where paying to enter is require like camping spots or Bushkill Falls.
Visiting these other areas will obviously require an extra day or more to do, so if you’re looking to do a road trip then spending one day at the Delaware Water Gap, then another or more in each other spot recommended above will be a great way to do this (but the further away the above spots are, the more days I’d devote to exploring them).