Enjoy the natural beauty of the Meadowlands
At long last, spring is here! It is finally time to put the very long and difficult winter in the rearview mirror and look ahead. Now is an especially great time for you and your business, friends and family to take advantage of the amazing natural beauty and wildlife in the Meadowlands.
The New Jersey Meadowlands Commission (NJMC) offers plenty of nature-themed programs that are ideal for unforgettable company retreats and team building exercises, civic organization field trips, and other group activities. Our guided pontoon boat and canoe tours of the Hackensack River, nature walks, and public viewing nights at the NJMC William D. McDowell Observatory are especially popular. The tours and walks run frequently throughout the spring and summer, and the observatory offers twice-weekly public viewing nights.
The NJMC can arrange group tours for you and your employees.
The NJMC also encourages you to visit our many tranquil parks and natural areas on your own. We often see workers walking through DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst, the home of the NJMC, on their lunch breaks. Soaking in the park’s stunning scenery and dazzling waterfowl and many other bird species provides the perfect opportunity to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the workday and rejuvenate yourself for the afternoon’s business.
Below is information on the NJMC’s public programs this spring and summer. We look forward to seeing you in the parks and on the water!
Guided Pontoon Boat and Canoe Tours
Many people only know the Hackensack River from the vantage point of the surrounding highways or the window of a commuter train. Take an NJMC pontoon boat cruise or canoe tour and you’ll see the river in an entirely new light.
The highly popular guided excursions run from June through September and provide an up-close view of this magnificent body of water, its marshes and surrounding ecosystem. The leisurely two-hour pontoon boat cruises and three-hour canoe tours are led by expert NJMC guides who discuss the region’s human and environmental history, explain the river’s ecology, and point out wildlife along the way.
Don’t forget to bring your cameras and video equipment. The Hackensack River is a wonderful waterway on which to see many of the birds that fly through the Meadowlands in the spring and summer, including herons, shorebirds and northern harriers. Turn your head skyward and you’re likely to view peregrine falcons perched underneath bridges, ospreys searching for snacks, and, if you’re lucky, a bald eagle.
Pontoon boat cruises launch on weekdays at 10 a.m., 5 p.m. or 5:30 p.m., and at 8:30 a.m. on Saturdays, from the NJMC’s River Barge Park in Carlstadt. Canoe trips start at 8:30 a.m. on Saturdays from various locations in the Meadowlands District.
NJMC 2014 Pontoon Boat Tours
5:30 p.m. June 4, 10, 12, 18, 20, 24 and 26
8:30 a.m. June 14
5:30 p.m. July 2, 8, 10, 16, 18, 22, 24 and 30
10 a.m. July 9 and 23
8:30 a.m. July 19
5:30 p.m. Aug. 5, 7, 13, 15, 19, 21 and 27
10 a.m. Aug. 6 and 20
8:30 a.m. Aug. 23
5 p.m. Sept. 3, 4, 9, 12, 17, 23 and 25
8:30 a.m. Sept. 13
NJMC 2014 Canoe Tours
8:30 a.m. June 14 and Aug. 16, River Barge Park, Carlstadt
8:30 a.m. July 26, Mill Creek Marsh, Secaucus
8:30 a.m. Sept. 13, Sawmill Wildlife Management Area, Lyndhurst
The tours are extremely popular, and it is not too early to reserve your spot. To register, and for more information, visit http://www.njmeadowlands.gov/environment/tours.html or call 201-460-4640. To arrange corporate trips, call 201-460-4692.
Guided Nature Walks
The NJMC and the Bergen County Audubon Society host free guided nature walks on the first Sunday and Third Tuesday of each month at various Meadowlands District parks and natural areas. The relaxing, family-friendly walks are a wonderful way to spot some of the more than 280 avian species that can be seen in the area, many on the State’s threatened, endangered and species of special concern lists.
The Meadowlands is one of the best locations for birding in New Jersey. DeKorte Park has been spotlighted by Birder’s World magazine, a national publication, as a birding hotspot.
When a rare bird sighting is reported on the NJMC’s nature blog, www.meadowblog.net, it is not unusual to see birders from all corners of the tri-state area descend upon the region to get a glimpse of these winged wonders. During the spring and summer we will see plenty of swallows, egrets and shorebirds. We are also hoping for black skimmers and peregrine falcons.
In addition to its regular monthly walks, the NJMC and Bergen County Audubon host several free special events, including our Annual Butterfly Day in July that draws upwards of 600 people to DeKorte Park.
Below is a list of upcoming bird walks and special events. Always check www.meadowblog.net prior to the walk or event for weather updates. For more information, visit http://www.njmeadowlands.gov/events.html or call 201-460-2002
Twice-monthly Nature Walks (All walks begin at 10 a.m.)
Sunday, May 4 – Losen Slote Creek Park, Little Ferry
Sunday, May 11 – Bonus 6th Annual Mother’s Day Walk, Ridgefield Nature Center
Tuesday, May 20 – Mill Creek Marsh, Secaucus
Sunday, June 1 – Mill Creek Point Park, Secaucus
Sunday, June 8 – Bonus Plant Walk, DeKorte Park, Lyndhurst
Tuesday, June 17 – Laurel Hill County Park, Secaucus
Monday, July 21, 8:30 to 11 p.m. – Third Annual Moth Night, DeKorte Park, Lyndhurst
- Learn all about moths — those amazing cousins of butterflies — at the NJMC’s third annual Moth Night. We’ll be hosting representatives from National Moth Week who will present a short talk on moths and why they are so important yet so misunderstood. We will then use industrial-strength mercury vapor lamps and white sheets to identify and admire various species.
Sunday, July 27, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. – Fourth Annual Butterfly Day, DeKorte Park, Lyndhurst
- In addition to butterfly walks for the whole family, this popular event includes brief introductory slide shows on the Butterflies of DeKorte Park, tables with loads of information on butterfly identification, binoculars and gardening to attract butterflies, a scavenger hunt and costume contest for kids, and great door prizes.
NJMC William D. McDowell Observatory
The NJMC’s activities don’t end at sunset. In fact, that’s when the fun starts at the Commission’s William D. McDowell Observatory. Stargazers can see and learn about planets, constellations and other celestial bodies through a high-powered, research-grade telescope.
Observatory staff ensures that you get the best views and explain all you need to know about what you are seeing. The observatory is open for free to the public on Monday and Wednesday nights, weather permitting and excluding holidays. The night sky should offer clear visions of the moon, Jupiter, Mars and Saturn during May.
Observatory hours are 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. in May; 9 to 10:30 p.m. in June and July; and 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. in August. Visit www.njmeadowlands.gov/ec for more information. You must be able to climb 25 steps to the observatory.
Because the observatory tends to fill up quickly, we advise that you call 201-777- 2416 to schedule a large group outing.