The Skylands was originally a marketing region established by the New Jersey Department of Tourism for the western sections of the northern and central parts of the Garden State. The area “officially” encompasses Hunterdon, Morris, Somerset, Sussex and Warren counties. But from a geographic, cultural, and economic standpoint, most New Jerseyians feel the boundary of The Skylands represents the northwest part of the Garden State. Let’s take a look…

Road Trip. North of 1-78 and west of I-287 create easy boundaries for The Skylands. This practical definition excludes Hunterton and Somerset counties, but includes western Passaic County plus some of the Ramapo Mountains in Bergen County. Go east > of I-287 and you are in “North Jersey.” Cross south past I-78 and you are in (arguably) “Central Jersey.”

Unique Terrains. The Skylands differ from the rest of New Jersey State by its numerous mountains, lakes, and forests. These are the “Highlands” and “Ridge & Valley” physiographic provinces. The Skylands were shaped in large part by the Great Wisconsin Glacier 12,000 years ago. The highest point in the State is in the Skylands’ Stokes State Forest (which also boasts New Jersey’s portion of the Appalachian Trail). Within the Skylands is the protected “Highlands” watershed. Extending into New York, it is one of the oldest landscapes in North America (Precambrian!) and supplies clean drinking water to 2/3 of NJ’s population. We also get the most snow in the State, the earliest frost in Autumn, and the last frost in Spring (okay, not everything is great here). But it also brings…

A Calmer Vibe. The Skylands mixes small towns and tiny cities with protected open space, development limits, and agriculture. With fewer rail stops and a long commute to Manhattan, this creates a Skylands melieu that is distinct from the “North Jersey” and “New York City Metro Area” labels it gets folded into. Blacktop and sidewalks share the landscape, rather than dominate it. Hills, valleys, and mountains are all around you. Lakes and forests abound. You learn to live with varied wildlife. County Fairs are the real deal here, and a summer day spent at a lake or kayaking a river is common. You have room to roam in The Skylands. Nature is a short walk wherever you are. The Skylands is a model (albeit imperfect) of how development should be done and why we love it out here. Along with the slower, more polite pace.

Lots to see and do out here in The Skylands. So get some fresh air and discover new towns and natural beauties. 🙂

Beaver Brook, Denville, NJ (late summer)
Beaver Brook, Denville, NJ (winter)

%d bloggers like this: