July 24, 2013

7/14/13 - Delaware Water Gap NRA

The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is on the border of NJ and Pennsylvania, where the Delaware River cuts through a ridge of the Appalachian Mountains.  The brochure says...it's been a favorite vacation spot since the 1800s.  It's still popular-- almost 5 million visitors last year, ranked 10th in the park system.  Since US-209 runs through most of the park on the PA side, I think their count is a tad skewed. 

Even with that kind of rating, 21st century politics has not been kind to the Gap. The Kittatinny Point Visitor Center at the south end of the park is closed by sequestration, even though that area of the park gets the most visitors.  (How stupid is it to close that one?)  Dingmans Falls Visitor Center is open only on weekends, so it was a good thing we got there on Sunday.
The brochure says...there are 100 miles of trails for hiking and biking--even that most-famous-trail-in-America--the Appalachian Trail. There are hundreds of waterfalls. We strolled down one short boardwalk trail to see two waterfalls. I think Silver Thread Falls is prettiest. It might be the tallest in Pennsylvania.*
After we got to the platform to view Dingmans Falls (it too might be the tallest in Pennsylvania*) and took our pictures there, we climbed the "optional" 240-step staircase to the top of the upper falls.
The wild rhododendrons had just finished blooming, but there were a few left.  Rhodies remind us of Washington state.
The brochure says...there are 200 miles of roads in the park for driving and biking. We took a "windshield tour" up the Old Mine Road to Millbrook Village. You can actually see the river for the first part.  Millbrook Village had a mill on the brook (must be where they got the name) from the 1830s until the 1900s. Now there are no people, just a few buildings we wandered around. The first one is the old grist mill.
The brochure says...there are 40 miles of river for boating. We watched some people put their kayaks into the water. It was especially entertaining when one woman realized she didn't have a paddle!  Her friend had to take it to her.

Clumps of butterflies were all along the shore. Some of them seem to be dancing, but most of them seem to be just ignoring each other.  I think it might be a butterfly pick-up spot.
The brochure says the best views of the Gap are from the top of a couple of mountains where the river cuts through. (Elevation gain: 1000'+.  Trail rating: Difficult. It was too hot and humid to even think about it.) I'm not sure I really get the whole gap thing; it's not even a canyon, ...grand or otherwise.  

*If you count both the upper and lower falls at Dingmans Falls, it's the tallest waterfall in the state. If you don't count Dingmans' upper falls, then Silver Thead Falls is the tallest. Either way, they're both in the park--and in Pennsylvania.  You decide.

More pictures from the Gap:  Delaware Water Gap NRA

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