Located in the northern part of the state near the New York state border, the Vernon area is the ski capital of New Jersey. (Its main resort, Mountain Creek, offers about 50 trails.) These slopes may not seem impressive compared with New England or the western U.S., but they do provide some challenges as well as offer readily accessible skiing opportunities to New York metro area residents. The area is also a popular summertime destination—especially Mountain Creek Water Park, which has waterslides and a tidal-wave pool. And in recent years, the Vernon area has become popular with golfers.

This part of the state has some standout options for nature enthusiasts. A bit farther west, the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area stretches 37 mi/60 km along the Delaware River. It contains part of the Appalachian Trail, which runs from Maine to Georgia. Be sure to see Millbrook Village, a living-history hamlet from the 1800s that's open to visitors during the summer months. The river is a popular destination for canoeing, rafting and tubing. To get a bird's-eye perspective on the state, stop at High Point State Park in Colesville—as the name suggests, it features the highest point in New Jersey (1,803 ft/550 m), as well as more than 14,000 acres/5,670 hectares of dramatic landscape.

The "Skylands region," as it's sometimes called, is also where you'll find the state's largest lake, Lake Hopatcong, at Hopatcong State Park on the Morris/Sussex county line. In summer, it's a popular spot for swimming and boating, and in winter, you can go iceboating over the frozen lake—sailing a small kayak-type boat mounted on runners. A few miles/kilometers to the north, you can visit the town of Sparta and stroll on the picturesque boardwalk that overlooks Lake Mohawk. At the nearby Franklin Mineral Museum, you can view more than 4,000 specimens of the 300 types of ores and minerals collected from the area around Franklin and Ogdensburg in Sussex County, including the world's largest display of fluorescent rocks, whose naturally glowing colors are further enhanced when viewed under ultraviolet light. Vernon is 40 mi/65 km northwest of Newark.

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