The Skylands was originally a marketing region in Northern and Central New Jersey established by the State Department of Tourism. The area “officially” encompasses Hunterdon, Morris, Somerset, Sussex and Warren counties for this purpose. But as someone who has lived here for over 30 years, I define The Skylands differently…
From a geographic, culture, and economic standpoint most New Jerseyians feel the boundary of The Skylands represents the northwest part of our State. Essentially north of 1-78 and west of I-287. This would exclude Hunterton and Somerset counties, and include western Passaic County and the Ramapo Mountains in the northwest corner of Bergen County.
Together with the border towns of Orange County, New York, The Skylands surround the important and protected “Highlands” watershed. Pennsylvania’s Pocono border towns share a common road (I-80) and a common geography. All these connected areas were “shaped” by the Great Wisconsin Glacier 12,000 years ago and are marked by mountains, lakes, agriculture, and open space for recreation and environmental protection. These Skylands are a natural wonderland of floral and fauna interspersed with small towns and tiny cities and decent infrastructure. I can go skiing in the AM and be in Manhattan in the PM (if I actually ski’d and was crazy enough). It’s how “development” should be done and why I love it out here. Along with the nice, grounded people.
These characteristics of The Skylands create a lifestyle and cultural melieu that is distinct from the New York City Metro Area and its famed “Tri-State Region” in my opinion. As someone who grew up in the Bronx and lived and played in “North Jersey” for years before moving out here, it’s like night and day to me. There is less blacktop and sidewalks, and more floral and fauna. Commuter rail lines end near our border. We also get the most snow and are in a colder planting Zone (damn)!
Lots to see and do out here in The Skylands. Get some fresh air and enjoy our Region when you can. I’m still discovering new towns, natural beauties, and friendly people all the time.