“Skylands” is simply a perspective; a way of looking at and appreciating Northwestern New Jersey. “Thinking Skylands” endeavors to meld those characteristics shared by the constituent counties, towns, ridges, valleys, country roads and sections of interstate into a comprehensive portrait; one more attentive to geographic, cultural, and historical attributes than county and municipal borders. Explore the remarkable personality of this place!
Officially, the Skylands Region refers to Northwest New Jersey and includes the counties of Morris, Somerset, Hunterdon, Warren, and Sussex. Destinations just beyond those borders, in neighboring counties and states (Pennsylvania and New York), are equally intriguing and convenient, so don't be confused if you come across some of those here.
Make it a point to get out and enjoy the pleasures of the season. We’ve collected lots of ideas for you and your family. Some may be obvious, some might surprise you. We hope we’re helpful when you’re planning an afternoon, a weekend, or perhaps a permanent relocation to New Jersey.
The first fishable ice (three inches or more) usually forms by sometime in mid to late December. Then you can head out onto the fishable coves on such impoundments as Lake Hopatcong, Lake Wawayanda, Swartswood Lake, Paulinskill Lake, Cranberry Lake, Lake Musconetcong, Budd Lake, Mountain Lake, or any other frozen body of water in where you can gain public access.
To understand why it's a great story, walk to the top of the hill in Jockey Hollow that held 200 soldier huts in early 1790. Walk up one day in January and imagine staying there until it gets warm enough sometime in April to take off your down jacket.
Not only does snowshoeing provide a cardio packed punch of a workout, it is also a lot of fun! Snowshoeing is easy to learn, inexpensive compared to other winter sports, and poses little risk of injury. Try a tundra trek this winter!
One thing that most people are not aware of, not even native New Jerseyans, is that the west central part of the state has the greatest diversity of barn types perhaps in the entire North American continent. A mixture of German, Holland Dutch and English customs, and a pronounced blending of Old World craft traditions, produced a multitude of various barn constructions. More than 150 years ago, they went truly ballistic with all kinds of barn building expressions.
The sustained productivity of the Sparta Mountain iron mines, which began in the late 1700s, attracted the attention of Thomas Edison, who built a massive experimental plant to process iron ore and a namesake village in 1889.
Hastened by the first blanketings of snow, the shortened days of winter in the Skylands afford a chilly but unequaled opportunity to draw closer to nature and to enjoy the quiet that descends with the withdrawal of activity to the indoors. On these cold days, while local countryside vistas remain open and unshrouded by their canopy of leaves, the fields, forests, and woodlands of our region are prime for the pastime of winter birdwatching.
Sled dog racing is a great spectator sport. No snow potatoes allowed! Onlookers are recruited as sled holders and dog handlers. Others just come to learn more about dogs.
Here are artists who inspire their own inherent talents with other gifts from nature: a modern-day fossil maker, a wood carver with a global view, a painter of nature and emotion, and a horticultural sculptor of living art.
The Winter season has its own wonders that merit braving the cold. In fact there are intrepid hikers that don't take to the trails until the branches are bare, in search of vistas from ice formations to sun glistening on a freshly fallen snow.
The region's rustic nature is perfectly complemented by many vigorous towns and villages that offer wonderful entertainment, shopping and dining opportunities, fine museums, theaters and accommodations.
And there is a year round schedule of festivals, arts & crafts fairs, performance, exhibits, and educational events in New Jersey's Great Northwest.
Most of the material you'll find here has been published in our seasonal guide to the region: the Skylands Visitor Magazine. If you'd like a free copy, move over here.