The National Park Service recently announced changes to service in the upcoming winter months around the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. During the winter months, staffing levels and visitation are at their lowest. The changes recently announced include closure to some roads and visitor use sites, and reduced maintenance at others.
“Plowing and treating the main roads through the park is our top priority when we have snow and ice. Secondary roads, administrative buildings, and visitor use sites that will remain open for the winter will be plowed after the main roads have been cleared and are safe for travel. Some roads will receive no winter maintenance and others will be closed,” explained Bill Tagye, chief of facility management at the park.
Of the more than 150 miles of dirt and paved roads within the recreation area, a few have been determined to be of highest priority for snow and ice removal and treatment. These roads provide critical access to and through the park, including emergency access, and provide routes for residents living within park boundaries to get to and from their homes.
In its announcement, the NPS noted that park staff “will make every effort to keep the priority routes open and safe for travel during and after winter weather events, however, roadways may be snow-covered and winter driving conditions may exist during a storm.” Even high priority roads may be closed temporarily if conditions deteriorate faster than road crews can keep up with or in the event of equipment failures or breakdowns. If that occurs, these roads will be re-opened as soon as park staff can get them cleared for travel.
Areas that will be closed through the winter were selected based on several factors including winterization of water supply systems, reduced custodial and maintenance staff, safety requirements, resource protection, and other priorities for snow and ice removal.
Closures will go into effect on January 2, 2024, or at the first significant snowfall, whichever comes first. Most sites will re-open on April 15 while others will re-open in May.
Pennsylvania within the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
- Route 209 is the top priority road for winter maintenance and treatment in Pennsylvania
- River Road will be closed prior to snow and/or ice events and will not be re-opened until priority routes are clear and safe and conditions permit. Zion Church Road will be plowed after River Road has been opened
Visitor use sites
Walkways and parking lots will normally be cleared within 72 hours of the end of a storm.
All trails that are currently open will remain open during the winter, but trailhead parking will be dependent on conditions and may be limited in some areas. Road closures may also affect access to some trails. Trailhead parking areas that will remain open during the winter months will not be cleared of ice and snow until after all priority routes are clear and safe for travel.
The parking lot and access road to Dingmans Falls will remain closed to vehicles from January 2, or the first significant snowfall, to April 15 but the trail will remain open, and visitors may walk, ski, or snowshoe to the falls. Restrooms are closed.
The upper parking lot for Raymondskill Falls will be closed from January 2, or the first significant snowfall, to April 15 but the lower parking lot will remain open, as conditions permit. Restrooms will also be closed.
The Cliff Park trailhead parking area will receive no winter maintenance and will be open as conditions allow. Trailhead restrooms will be closed until May.
McDade Recreational Trail parking areas will be plowed after all other roads and facilities have been completed (except Jerry Lees and Venturo, which will receive no winter maintenance).
River access will be available at Dingmans Access, Milford Beach, and Bushkill Access. These areas will be closed temporarily during a storm and re-opened after priority routes are clear and safe for travel. River ice may limit access depending on conditions. The NPS does not clear river ice from launch areas. Eshback Access will remain open but will receive no winter maintenance.
Restrooms: Restrooms are available at Kittatinny Point Picnic Area, Blue Mountain Lakes parking area, and Millbrook Village in NJ and at Dingmans Access, Bushkill Meeting Center, Bushkill Access, Hidden Lake, Toms Creek, and Milford Beach. All restrooms with running water will be closed for the winter, including outdoor spigots.
For more information on winter recreation in Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area call 570-426-2452, or visit nps.gov/dewa.