Calling all winter enthusiasts! If you’re ready for an adventure, look up—way up—to where New Jersey touches the clouds. Nestled in the northwest corner of our map, Sussex County, aka the Sussex Skylands, provides a frosty escape for travelers of all ages and interests.
Less than an hour’s drive from New York City, and near New Jersey’s urban metropolises, this destination lies worlds away from bustling city streets. The Skylands Region invites peace-and-quiet seekers with rolling farmlands, tree-lined country roads, mountain lakes and meandering trails. Here, you’ll find wide-open spaces, fresh air and lots of alfresco pursuits, not to mention incredible attractions, dining, shopping, events and resorts.
Keep reading to learn more about this four-season playground, and then request or download the Sussex Skylands Official Visitors Guide to start planning your next expedition.
Get the Sussex Skylands Guide
Exploring a Winter Wonderland
As the temperatures fall, avoid the urge to hibernate. Emerge instead, and navigate Sussex County's vast expanses.
In several state parks, check out hiking, cross-country skiing, fat tire biking and mountain biking, snowshoeing, dogsledding, snowmobiling, horseback riding and wildlife watching. A few even have ice fishing (at your own discretion) and sledding. See what’s available at Kittatinny Valley State Park (Newton), Stokes State Forest (Branchville), Swartswood State Park (Swartswood) and Wawayanda State Park (Vernon).
At the Skylands’ aptly named High Point State Park (Sussex), home of the state’s highest elevation point, be awed by unrivaled views and High Point Monument, dedicated to New Jersey veterans. It’s where you can also try both day and night cross-country skiing at the High Point Cross Country Ski Center. Swish your way across the hushed, snowy landscape, with the magnificent monument rising above you.
Traverse four rail trails—former railroads with the tracks replaced by a cinder bed path—favorites of nature and railroad buffs alike. Catch the Paulinskill Valley Rail Trail (27 miles), the Sussex Branch Trail (20 miles), the Great Valley Trail (3.5 miles), and the Lehigh & Hudson River Rail Trail (4 miles).
Also crossing Sussex County’s rugged terrain: 40 glorious miles of the famous Appalachian Trail, which stretches 2,180+ total miles from Maine to Georgia. A bucket-list experience for trekkers around the globe, “the AT” is the world’s longest hiking-only footpath. Mountain- and river-laced Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area has long been a top spot to access it.
Loving That Resort Life
Whether with family, friends, your better half or simply indulging yourself, stay in style at Sussex Skylands resorts that pair your favorite activities with fabulous accommodations and plenty of amenities.
Hit the slopes at Mountain Creek Resort (Vernon) for skiing and snowboarding down dozens of trails for all skill levels, a snow tubing park and the latest in winter thrills—Sno-Go bikes! Then, relax in your choice of slope-side studio, one- and two-bedroom units in The Appalachian, or rentals in the gated townhome community of Black Creek Sanctuary. Mountain Creek’s “Go Skiing” and “Go Snowboarding” packages include a full mountain lift ticket, equipment rentals and free access to self-guided lessons.
Or, select Crystal Springs Resort. Delight in two luxurious spas, exquisite dining, the award-winning Wine Cellar, fitness and wellness programs, indoor and outdoor heated pools and a long list of activities spanning goat yoga, pony rides and scavenger hunts. Settle into a guestroom or suite in its AAA Four Diamond–rated Grand Cascades Lodge (Hamburg) or family-friendly Minerals Hotel (Vernon). The “December to Remember” holiday packages feature “glice” skating, mini trees, s’more kits and more, and some overnight stays include axe throwing and wine tastings.
Mountaintop to Fireside in Minutes Flat
Winter brings snuggle weather. That’s why lodging and restaurants promising toasty fireplaces will truly draw you closer together. (Some rooms at Mountain Creek Resort and Crystal Springs Resort are among them.)
After a rewarding day of outdoor escapades, get cozy at the genteel Wooden Duck Bed & Breakfast (Newton). Winner of Tripadvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Award for eight years straight, this charmer boasts ten gorgeous rooms, seven with fireplaces perfect for cuddling in front of. Moments from Kittatinny Valley State Park, savor a delectable three-course breakfast, in-room massages and views of wildlife and rolling hills.
Warm up and chow down near a toasty fireplace at an inviting Sussex Skylands restaurant. Popular picks are The Walpack Inn (Walpack Center), The Lafayette House (Lafayette), Mohawk House (Sparta) and Crystal Tavern (Crystal Springs Resort – Hamburg).
The Forecast Calls for a Flurry of Fun
This holiday season, the Skylands Stadium Light Show & Christmas Village (Augusta) will be a huge hit with your family, and not just because of its over 2 million lights. A portion of the one-mile route is directly on the ballfield! Plus, take a pic with Santa, ride the Ferris wheel and carousel, skate the rink, stop by the beer garden, roast s’mores, sip hot cocoa, and enjoy more treats. Tickets for pre-scheduled reservations through January 9, 2022 are only available for purchase online.
Year-Round Outdoor Paradise
Explore the many opportunities that await, throughout the year. Request or download the Sussex Skylands Official Visitors Guide now.
Get the Sussex Skylands Guide