Lower Delaware National Wild and Scenic River | PARK AT A GLANCE

Lower Delaware National Wild and Scenic River near Washington Crossing

Lower Delaware National Wild and Scenic River near Washington Crossing

The Lower Delaware National Wild and Scenic River was created in 2000 to protect the Delaware River from south of Belvidere, New Jersey, at river mile 193.8 to Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania, a total of approximately 52 miles. However, only 39 miles within this boundary are actually part of the park. Some sections have been omitted due to excessive development or because the municipalities along the river do not want to be part of the park for various reasons including having to impose stricter regulations on businesses. For simplicities sake, National Park Planner provides details on paddling trips and boat launches on the entire 52-mile stretch of river.

In addition to the Delaware River, sections of some of its tributaries are also included in the park: 14.7 miles of Tinicum Creek; 10.7 miles of Tohickon Creek; 3 miles of Paunacussing Creek. National Park Planner does not provide reviews of these sections.

Oddly enough, none of the Delaware River within the park is actually designated as Scenic, which refers to rivers with shorelines that are largely primitive. All sections have been designated as Recreational, the designation for rivers that have some developed shoreline and are easy to get to by vehicles. Only the Tinicum and Tohickon creek segments officially have the Scenic designation. Furthermore, why the designation of Wild is used to describe the Lower Delaware is anyone’s guess. Per Rivers.gov, this designation refers to rivers “that are free of impoundments and generally inaccessible except by trail, with watersheds or shorelines essentially primitive and waters unpolluted.” There is a lot of development along the Lower Delaware, dozens of boat launches, and two partial dams (wing dams).

A more fitting name would be the Lower Delaware National Recreational River. In fact, the map published on the National Park Service website refers to the park as the Lower Delaware Scenic and Recreational River. This is the designation given to the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River and the Middle Delaware National Scenic and Recreational River, the section of river within Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Both are certainly more Wild and Scenic than the Lower Delaware, and this is coming from someone who has been down every inch of all three river parks.

Another thing to note about the Lower Delaware National Wild and Scenic River is that it is not managed solely by the National Park Service and is therefore not technically considered one of the 428 parks (at the time of this writing) that you must visit in order to say you’ve seen them all. It is managed by private owners, local municipalities, state agencies, and nonprofit groups with the National Park Service overseeing the operation.

National Park Planner does not typically cover partnership parks but has in this case since the Lower Delaware is part of one continuous National River along with the Upper and Middle Delaware rivers, both of which are National Park Service properties. However, only the river trips and boat launches are reviewed. There are hiking trails, picnic areas, and other attractions along the Lower Delaware, but all of these are part of state, city, and county parks.

Lower Delaware National Wild and Scenic River near Frenchtown, New Jersey

Lower Delaware National Wild and Scenic River near Frenchtown, New Jersey

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Last updated on February 19, 2024
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