Tuesday, July 17, 2012

New Jersey State Parks Are No Bargain

Since we got our new generator, we were interested in camping in New Jersey State Parks.  We haven't camped there since we stopped tent camping (about 20 years ago).  I used to love camping in the pine barrens of New Jersey.  As a child my family camped at Parvin State Park, where I eventually lived for two years (after my mother and father were divorced, my mother married the park superintendent).  Later on I took my children to Parvin, and my husband and I camped at Atsion campground in Wharton State Forest and Bass River State Park.  Once Bob and I bought a trailer we stopped camping in New Jersey since all they offer are primitive sites.  Now that we can dry camp, we decided to drive down to check out Atsion and Bass River as potential camping sites.

We were quite disappointed by what we found.  The primitive campsites have hardly changed at all over 20 years, and both parks seem somewhat run down.  It doesn't look as if any improvements have been made at all.  The rates are overly high for these sites at  $20.00/night.  They are very dog-unfriendly, charging an additional $5.00 a night for dogs, and limiting you to particular sites if you have a dog.  At Atsion, the dog sites were the absolute worse, and none of them would accommode a 30 foot travel trailer.

New Jersey State Parks are not just dog-unfriendly, they are senior unfriendly.  They only offer a $2.00/night discount for N.J. seniors.  Comparing this to other states it is no bargain.  Assateague State Park offers a full 50% discount during weekdays for anyone holding a Golden Age Pass.  Florida State Parks offer a 50% discount for Florida seniors.  In fact, almost every other state park system that we've been to throughout the U.S. offers steeply discounted rates for senior residents.  You would certainly think that New Jersey, having one of the highest tax rates in the country,  would offer their senior residents more of a discount.

And guess what - nobody is camping in these parks.  Both were relatively empty, with only a few campers in each park.  Almost every other state park in the country offers  improved campsites, with many offering full hookups as well as primitive sites.  Yes, they are more expensive, but at least people will use them.  The way that New Jersey handles its state park system is only loosing them money.  I know that we probably won't camp in our own state, because it just isn't a good bargain.

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