Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

Quick Facts

Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

New Jersey

(973) 425-1222

Map Directions

Things To Do


The Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge is an oasis of wilderness surrounded by urban and suburban areas. It provides important habitats for fish and wildlife and affords the public opportunities to enjoy wildlife and wilderness within close proximity to urban centers. It was established in 1960 and lies a mere 26 miles west of New York City's Times Square and seven miles south of Morristown, New Jersey. It consists of approximately 7,500 acres of swamp woodland, hardwood ridges, cattail marsh, grassland, ponds, and meandering streams. Over the years, the refuge has become a resting and feeding area for more than 244 species of birds. The refuge also hosts more than 39 species of reptiles and amphibians, 29 species of fish, 33 species of mammals, and approximately 600 species of plants including 215 species of wildflowers. Additionally, 26 of these species are listed by the state of New Jersey as being threatened or endangered, including the wood turtle, blue-spotted salamander, and bog turtle (also federally threatened).

The Refuge provides an excellent opportunity for learning about a variety of ecosystems. The Friends of Great Swamp NWR provide much of the environmental education and interpretation available at the Refuge through guided tours and a Discovery Den located at the bookstore on Pleasant Plains Road. Two separate Environmental Education Centers in the swamp provide additional education and interpretation opportunities and are located adjacent to the Refuge.

Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center, operated by Morris County Parks Commision, is located on the eastern side of the Refuge off Southern Boulevard in Chatham Township. The Center offers a varied natural science program of classes and guided tours and provides one mile of trail and boardwalk for the public. For details, call 973-635-6629.

The Environmental Education Center, operated by the Somerset County Parks Commision, is located on the western border of the Refuge in Lord Stirling Park. The Park has a varied program of environmental education courses, guided field trips, and 8 ½ miles of walking trail. For details, call 908-766-2489.

Map of Great Swamp NWR

Latitude, Longitude: 40.724494, -74.528160



  • Bird Watching

    Over 200 species of birds may be sighted at Great Swamp, the abundance dependent on season. Common species include Canada goose, wood duck, wild turkey, black vulture, heron, red-tailed hawk, Virginia rail, belted kingfisher, downy woodpecker, great horned owl, and many more. See the refuge website for a complete checklist.

  • Auto/Motorcycle

    The area is a beautiful place to take a drive, and visitors with keen eyes might spot some rare wildlife along the way. Pleasant Plains Road, from refuge headquarters to Great Brook Bridge, is particularly good for viewing wildlife in varied habitats from your vehicle.

  • Hiking

    Approximately 8.5 miles of primitive trails are maintained in the wilderness area and free roaming off-trail travel is permitted in this area. An additional 1.5 miles of accessible boardwalk trails are available at the Wildlife Observation Center on Long Hill Road.

  • Hunting

    The refuge actively manages its deer population through an annual deer hunt held each November. An annual one-day youth hunt is followed by a four-day public hunt open to muzzleloader and shotgun. During this time, the refuge is closed to non-hunters, with the exception of the refuge office, which remains open.

  • Wildlife Watching

    Mammals found on the refuge include white-tailed deer, mink, beaver, raccoon, skunk, red fox, coyote, woodchuck, gray squirrel, opossum, cottontail rabbit, and Indiana bat. Reptiles and amphibians include the federally threatened bog turtle and the state endangered blue-spotted salamander.

Park Partners

Friends of Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

The Friends of Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1999 in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Its focus is refuge-centric; it supports the goals, projects, and mission of the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. Operations and activities are managed by an all-volunteer board of directors and committees.

(973) 425-9510



Great Swamp is located seven miles south of Morristown, New Jersey.

From Interstate 78 (westbound): Take exit 40 and turn right on Hillcrest road (County Road 531). Go to stop sign (1 mile), cross Mountain Avenue, staying on Hillcrest Road (531). [Hillcrest Road becomes Mountain Avenue after passing over the Passaic River Bridge]. Go straight through the traffic light at the intersection with County Road 512, and continue on Mountain Avenue. [Mountain Avenue is now also County Road 638]. Go 1.3 miles to the top of the hill and cross over Long Hill Road onto Meyersville Road. Go down Meyersville Road 0.8 miles to circle, turn left onto New Vernon Road and follow Refuge directional signs.

From Interstate 78 (eastbound): - Turn left on Hillcrest Road and follow westbound directions.

From interstate 287 (southbound and northbound): Take Exit 30A (Basking Ridge/ North Maple Avenue) and bear right onto North Maple Avenue.

Phone Numbers


(973) 425-1222