U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service logo A Unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System
Banner graphic displaying the Fish & Wildlife Service logo and National Wildlife Refuge System tagline

Great Swamp
National Wildlife Refuge

An image of the Great Swamp Refuge in early fall.
241 Pleasant Plains Road
Basking Ridge, NJ   07920
E-mail: greatswamp@fws.gov
Phone Number: 973-425-1222
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
The Great Swamp Refuge contains approximately 7,500 acres of swamp woodland, hardwood ridges, cattail marsh, grassland, ponds and meandering streams.
Gray horizontal line
Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge
The Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1960 and lies 26 miles west of New York City's Times Square and 7 miles south of Morristown, New Jersey in Morris County. This oasis of wilderness, surrounded by urban and suburban areas, provides important habitats to fish and wildlife and a unique opportunity for the public to enjoy wildlife and wilderness within close proximity to urban centers. It consists of approximately 7,600 acres of swamp woodland, hardwood ridges, cattail marsh, grassland, ponds and meandering streams. Over the years, the refuge has become a resting and feeding area for more than 244 species of birds. The refuge also provides a "home" for more than 39 species of reptiles and amphibians, 29 species of fish, 33 species of mammals and approximately 600 species of plants (including 215 species of wildflowers). Additionally, 26 of these species are listed by the State of New Jersey as being threatened or endangered, including the wood turtle, blue-spotted salamander and bog turtle (also federally threatened).

Getting There . . .
Great Swamp is located 7 miles south of Morristown, New Jersey

From Interstate 287 (Southbound and Northbound): Take Exit 30A (Basking Ridge/North Maple Avenue) and bear right onto North Maple Avenue. Go through the traffic light at Madisonville Road (ignore refuge directional sign pointing left at Madisonville Road) and continue on North Maple Avenue. After one mile North Maple will bear left and become South Maple Avenue. Continue on South Maple Avenue for one mile and turn left onto Lord Stirling Road. After 1.3 miles you will pass over a bridge on the Passaic River. Continue straight on White Bridge Road for one mile and turn left onto Pleasant Plains Road. Follow refuge directional signs to refuge headquarters.

From Interstate 78 (westbound): Take Exit 40 and turn right on Hillcrest Road (County Road 531). Go to stop sign (1 mile), cross Mountain Avenue, staying on Hillcrest Road (531). (Hillcrest Road becomes Mountain Avenue after passing over the Passaic River Bridge). Go straight through the traffic light at the intersection of County Road 512 and continue on Mountain Avenue (now County Road 638). Go 1.3 miles to the top of the hill and cross over Long Hill Road onto Meyersville Road. Go down Meyersville Road 0.8 miles to circle, turn left on New Vernon Road and follow refuge directional signs.

From Interstate 78 (eastbound): Take Exit 40 and turn left onto Hillcrest Road and follow westbound directions.

Get Google map and directions to this refuge/WMD from a specified address:

Your full starting address AND town and state OR zip code

Google Maps opens in a new window

NOTE: When using this feature, you will be leaving the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service domain. We do not control the content or policies of the site you are about to visit. You should always check site policies before providing personal information or reusing content.

These driving directions are provided as a general guide only. No representation is made or warranty given as to their content, road conditions or route usability or expeditiousness. User assumes all risk of use.

horizontal line

Wildlife and Habitat

A variety of habitats, including marsh, hardwood swamp, upland timber, streams and ponds, brush and grassland, are found throughout the Refuge. Associated with these habitats is an ever-changing variety of plants and wildlife.

Learn More>>

The Refuge has a long and diverse history. The land that the refuge now occupies was created roughly 25,000 years ago by the Wisconsin Glacier. At first, the refuge was home to Native Americans, then farmers and at one point almost became a jetport.

Learn More>>

    Recreation and Education Opportunities
Environmental Education
Wildlife Observation
Learn More >>

Management Activities
The Great Swamp is divided up into two sections, the Wilderness Area and the Management Area. No permanent structures, motorized vehicles or equipment are allowed in the Wilderness Area. The Wilderness Area serves as an outdoor laboratory and provides a more primitive outdoor experience for the general public. Hiking on almost eight and a half miles of trails is permitted. By limiting use in this sensitive area to foot travel, the wilderness experience can be preserved.

The rest of the refuge (Management Area) is intensively managed to maintain optimum habitat for a wide variety of wildlife. Water levels are manipulated in five shallow refuge impoundments to favor growth of a desirable mix of native plant communities. These habitat types are managed to provide conditions preferred by waterfowl, wading birds, shorebirds and other species during spring and fall migrations and the nesting season. Wood ducks and mallards are the most common waterfowl while Canada geese, black ducks, pintail, widgeon and teal are also abundant during migration. The wood duck has favorably responded to habitat protection and enhancement efforts. Artificial nesting structures are used to supplement natural nesting sites, which have declined throughout the wood duck's range.

Habitat management that promotes young, or early successional, forest types has been shown to increase local populations of breeding woodcock, numerous songbirds and many other wildlife species. Timber cutting is one of the best methods of rejuvenating and maintaining early successional habitats. Forest age structures from mature growth to young brush are maintained.

Several hundred acres of grasslands are also maintained on the refuge by mowing on one to four year rotational cycles. Grasslands provide diverse wildlife habitats, food resources and nesting cover for a wide variety of wildlife species, including the eastern bluebird and several raptor species. Numerous research studies are conducted on the Refuge.