Home Central Jersey The Best NJ Lakes and Reservoirs for Swimming

The Best NJ Lakes and Reservoirs for Swimming

The latest update for The Best NJ Lakes and Reservoirs for Swimming is written by Lindsay Podolak.


It’s a warm, sunny day; you’ve got your swimsuit, sunblock, beach chairs, towels, water bottles, emergency snacks and Skee-Ball money. You’re all set for the beach. Then, you get on the road and sit in Garden State Parkway traffic for three hours. But what if you didn’t have to? Maybe you’d like a different swimming option? If so, you’re in luck!

New Jersey has plenty of lakes and reservoirs that are open to the public, most charging per car rather than per person. Below, you’ll find a sampling of the best NJ lakes and reservoirs for swimming.


Quick Click Guide: Select an NJ Region below to find the best lakes & reservoirs for swimming near you.
| North Jersey | Central Jersey | Jersey Shore | South Jersey |


North Jersey


NJ Lakes


MORRIS COUNTY

(Editor’s Note: Until further notice, Lake Hopatcong is closed due to an algae bloom.)
Where: Lake Hopatcong, Hopatcong State Park, Landing
Fees: $6 weekdays, $10 weekends/holidays
Details: This nine-mile lake, which is the largest body of freshwater in New Jersey, was originally created as part of the historic Morris Canal system, and today is the central feature of Hopatcong State Park. The park is open sunrise to sunset with swimming permitted through Labor Day when there’s a lifeguard on duty. The park also has sand volleyball courts and playgrounds, plus a playing field for general use. Restrooms, changing areas, showers, first aid and concessions are available. Picnic areas overlooking the parking lot feature grills and tables. The park also offers boating (rentals available) or fishing.
Why I like it: Large trees overlooking the lake offer a shady respite from the heat.
More info: Visit the website.

Where: Sunrise Lake Beach Club, Lewis Morris Park, Morristown
Fees: Adults $6, $8 weekends/holidays; kids and seniors $5, $7 weekends/holidays
Details: The Sunrise Lake club, run by the Morris County Park Commission, offers an inflatable obstacle course for swimmers as well as beach volleyball, paddle boats, restrooms, showers and family campout nights. The lake is open on weekends and holidays from 11:00 am to 6:30 pm. Starting June 25, new weekday hours of 10:00 am to 5:00 pm will be in place. No pets are allowed.
Why I like it: Every Tuesday morning in July, check out Toddler Time, where toddlers and their parents get to have exclusive access to the water without the hustle and bustle of the daily crowds.
More info: Visit the website.


PASSAIC COUNTY

Where: Lake Wawayanda, Wawayanda State Park, Hewitt
Fees: $5 weekdays, $10 weekends/holidays
Details: The forested hills surrounding Lake Wawayanda create a picturesque backdrop for anyone who visits the lake, whether it is for hiking, boating, swimming or fishing. Swimming is permitted daily while lifeguards are on duty, between the hours of 10:00 am and 6:00 pm. Picnic areas are located along the lake’s shore, and you will find canoes, rowboats and paddle boats available to use at the rental facility.
Why I like it: Of all the deep lakes in the Garden State, only a small handful house coldwater fish like trout and salmon…and Lake Wawayanda is one of them!
More info: Visit the website.


SUSSEX COUNTY

Where: Lake Marcia, High Point State Park, Sussex
Fees: $5 weekdays, $10 weekends/holidays
Details: The spring-fed, 20-acre Lake Marcia is open for swimming on weekends only from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm through Labor Day weekend, while lifeguards are on duty. Check the website frequently, as there are potential plans to be open during the week if the park can staff enough lifeguards. There is a bathhouse, and concessions are available as well. High Point is a park worthy of its name; from High Point Monument, you can see farmland and forest views across three state lines (though the monument itself isn’t open to the public). Boating, fishing, hunting and more than 50 miles of trails are available.
Why I like it: The park’s Interpretive Center offers special educational programs year-round. Check with the park to see what’s on tap during your visit.
More info: Visit the website.

NJ Lakes

Where: Swartswood Lake, Swartswood State Park, Swartswood
Fees: $5 weekdays, $10 weekends
Details: New Jersey’s first state park, Swartswood was established in 1915. Swimming in the glacial lake, surrounded by the Kittatinny Mountains, is welcome from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm through Labor Day while lifeguards are on duty. Changing areas, restrooms, showers, first aid and concessions are available. Trails, camping, boating, hunting and fishing are available, as well as a bird observation facility.
Why I like it: You usually never know what you’re going to get with a park concession stand, but Swartswood has its menu online so you can be sure there’s something you (and your kids) will eat!
More info: Visit the website.


Central Jersey


NJ Lakes


HUNTERDON COUNTY

Where: Round Valley Reservoir, Round Valley Recreation Area, Lebanon
Fees: $5 weekdays, $10 weekends
Details: Round Valley’s 180-foot-deep lake is the deepest in the state. Swimming is welcome in the day-use area only, from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm while lifeguards are on duty. Picnic areas with grills, changing areas, restrooms, showers, first aid and concession stands are available, but there is no grilling along the beach. There are also playgrounds and volleyball nets. Scuba diving is allowed depending on the water conditions, though you must be certified, and the park also offers fishing, boating, hunting, camping and multiple trails for hiking.
Why I like it: Excellent water clarity and a rich variety of aquatic life make Round Valley Reservoir a top destination for freshwater snorkeling and scuba diving.
More info: Visit the website.

NJ Lakes

Where: Spruce Run Reservoir, Spruce Run Recreation Area, Clinton
Fees: $5 weekdays, $10 weekends
Details: Spruce Run offers 15 miles of shoreline for recreational use. They allow swimming through Labor Day while lifeguards are on duty, between the hours of 10:00 am and 6:00 pm. The park is open from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm through Labor Day, 8:00 am to 7:00 pm through September 30, and 8:00 am to 6:00 pm through October. Changing areas, restrooms, showers, first aid and concessions are available. There is a playground, as well as open fields, with picnic areas overlooking the reservoir; you can bring your own grill as long as it conforms to fire regulations. The park also offers camping, trails, fishing, hunting, boating and nature programs for families.
Why I like it: For boating fans, you can rent canoes, kayaks, motor boats and pontoon boats.
More info: Visit the website.


MIDDLESEX COUNTY

NJ Lakes

Where: Hooks Creek Lake, Cheesequake State Park, Old Bridge
Fees: $5 weekdays, $10 weekends/holidays
Details: The Cheesequake State Park, bridging both North and South Jersey, offers a little of everything: saltwater and freshwater areas, fields, a swamp and the Pine Barrens. They permit swimming through Labor Day weekend while lifeguards are on duty. The lake has a changing area, restrooms, first aid, and concessions. You can find picnic areas with tables and grills throughout the park; two areas are available for large groups. The park also offers camping, fishing, boating and programs at the nature center.
Why I like it: Cheesequake offers a fun way to learn about different habitats, because it lies in a transitional zone between two different ecosystems. Enjoy a hike after your swim and see the vegetation change as you move from a coastal salt marsh to an upland forest.
More info: Visit the website.


Jersey Shore


NJ Lakes


ATLANTIC COUNTY

Where: Atsion Lake, Wharton State Forest, Hammonton
Fees: $5 weekdays, $10 weekends
Details: Atsion Lake is in the Atsion Recreation Area on Route 206, Shamong Township. It is open from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm through Labor Day, while lifeguards are on duty. Picnic areas and concessions are also available. The Wharton State Forest is the biggest single tract of land in the state parks system, and is also home to Batsto Village, a re-created 19th-century village that offers programs and tours, and Harrisville, a “ghost town” abandoned in the late 1800s. The forest also offers hiking, fishing, camping, hunting and boating.
Why I like it: With cabins for rent right across the lake plus a playground nearby, this is a great place to do a family camping trip during the summer.
More info: Visit the website.


OCEAN COUNTY

Where: Lake Absegami, Bass River State Forest, Tuckerton
Fees: $5 weekdays, $10 weekends/holidays
Details: Lake Absegami was created in the 1930s by President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps. Swimming is permitted Friday through Tuesdays, through Labor Day while lifeguards are on duty. The lake has a changing area, restrooms, showers, first aid and concessions. A picnic area with grills, shelter, athletic fields and a playground is near the beach. Boating, fishing, hunting, camping and hiking trails are also available.
Why I like it: Since Bass River State Forest is right off the Garden State Parkway, this is an excellent alternative for when your attempted beach trip hits a traffic snag. Head over to Lake Absegami for a swim, wait for the traffic to ease up, then hit up the beach for the evening!
More info: Visit the website.


South Jersey


lakes


SALEM COUNTY

Where: Lake Garrison, Monroeville
Fees: $8 weekdays, $10 weekends/holidays
Details: A perfect alternative to the beach, Lake Garrison’s clean beach and refreshing waters are just the ticket for a fun family outing. Swimming, boating, basketball, a playground and arcade will entertain the kiddies all day. Purchase a season pass and save big; see website for pricing.
Why I like it: Rent a pavilion or picnic tables to host your lakefront gathering. Spaces hold up to 200 people.
More info: Visit the website.

Where: Parvin Lake, Parvin State Park, Pittsgrove
Fees: $2
Details: Parvin State Park is nestled in the southwestern corner of the state and it has a rich history to tell, having served as a summer camp for the children of displaced Japanese Americans in 1943. Swimming is permitted in Parvin Lake daily during the hours of 10:00 am and 6:00 pm, when lifeguards are on duty. Parking areas, a bathhouse, first-aid station, canoe rental and concession stand can be found adjacent to the lake.
Why I like it: Make a weekend of it and rent a furnished cabin for the family. Rates start at $55 a night for a four-bunk cabin.
More info: Visit the website.


Hero (Top) Feature Image: © Morris County Park Commission
Additional Images:
NJ Division of Parks and Forestry
Parvin State Park / Facebook