Paddling Overview: Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

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Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Pennsylvania

  • This national park, along with other national parks along the Delaware River, gives a natural experience not only on the water but also on the land, with hiking and camping opportunities. More than 110 miles of river can be paddled, and 40 of those miles are within the Delaware Water Gap NRA.
  • Numerous liveries operate along the Delaware River in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. They offer canoe, kayak, and raft rentals and shuttles. Smithfield Beach to Delaware Water Gap is a popular six-mile day trip.
  • Most of the river has Class I-II rapids and also has long, calm stretches. In spring, high water levels can raise some rapids to Class III.
  • The Delaware has good fishing. Angle for trout, walleye, and bass. Other river activities include swimming, but be aware that the water temperature can be cool to cold, even in the summer.

Canoeists enjoy the Delaware River today in much the same way the Lenape Indians did for thousands of years. Forty miles of the river flowing through the recreation area attract many who enjoy canoeing, tubing, and rafting. The surrounding land has a wealth of wildlife, including osprey, bald eagle, black bear, and river otter. If you are in the area in late September or early October, you stand a good chance of observing hawks and other raptors passing overhead on their annual migrations. In 1978 the Delaware River within the recreation area was designated as a scenic and recreational river under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

Within the park boundaries, the river is a series of shallow riffles and quiet pools. There are no difficult rapids. Its shallow depth and generally calm demeanor make this section of the Delaware particularly good for beginning paddlers. Access points every eight to ten miles allow for easy canoe day trips. Primitive campsites are available for longer trips.

Visitors may try their skills at fishing the Delaware River. The river contains trout sunfish, eel, shad, smallmouth bass, walleye, muskellunge, and catfish. An appropriate state license is required.

More than 20 liveries are licensed to rent equipment and provide transportation between access points. The park offices can give you a complete list.

Canoe Camping

Camping is allowed, but only under the following conditions: It is limited to boaters traveling from one access point to another, when the distance between those points is too great to be covered in one day. Camping is permitted only at those sites posted with the National Park Service sign, and requires a steel fire grate. Campers are limited to a one-night stay at each area.


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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