The 32 acre park was created in 1957. The main attraction is the lighthouse, which you can climb to the lightkeepers catwalk. From this lofty perch there are wonderful views of LBI, the Atlantic Ocean, Barnegat Bay, Barnegat Inlet and Island Beach State Park. Besides the lighthouse people come to the park to walk, birdwatch, learn about maritime history and fish.
Entering the Park
With only one very economical exception, the park is free. You do have to pay a $1 admission to climb the lighthouse during the summer (from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day). Children under 12 are always allowed to visit for free but they must be accompanied by an adult.
The lighthouse is open (weather permitting) every day from April 1 through October 31, 9 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. From April 1 through October 31 it is open from 9 AM to 3:30 PM, Wednesday through Sunday.
There is a large parking lot that is located at the entrance to the park. It can be seen in the center foreground of the picture that is just below. Parking is free.
In the early spring the office is open from Monday through Friday. Beginning April 1, 2009 it is open every day.
Barnegat Lighthouse State Park is located on the northern end of Long Beach Island. It forms the southern boundary of Barnegat Inlet. To reach the park from the mainland you must take the Route 72 causeway bridge into Ship Bottom and then continue north along Route 72/Long Beach Boulevard. Following the main road, which changes names numerous times, will bring you to signs that will lead you to the park entrance.
The Barnegat Lighthouse Interpretive Center has a display area and a desk where you can talk to park staff. The displays inside the center focus on maritime history associated with the lighthouse, lighthouse cultural history and the efforts that have been taken to over the years to try to keep the lighthouse from getting washed away.
Along the western edge of the park, fronting on a portion of Barnegat Bay, is a paved area with numerous picnic tables and barbeque grilles. This is the slightly orangish area in the right foreground of the picture shown above. Two picnic shelters are also available for public use.
Restrooms are available in the interpretive center and on the south edge of the parking lot.
- climb the steps to the top of the lighthouse
- try your luck fishing along the picnic area bulkhead
- walk - the short nature trail, the paved trail along the inlet, or out to the ocean beach
- have a picnic
- view the interpretive center displays
Climbing to the top of the lighthouse
There are 217 steps that lead to the light. From there you can see a long ways on a clear day. If you are familiar with this area of the Jersey shore and have never seen the area from up high, the view from the lighthouse will be even more special. In all areas of the lighthouse you will find interpretive signs that discuss the history and role of lighthouses, in addition to specific details about the Barnegat Lighthouse itself.
There is a long list of folks that should not climb the lighthouse. Be sure you are Ok with the strenuous nature of the climb. If you cannot or do not want to walk to the top you can still see the view from cameras that transmit images to the interpretive center.
According to the state park website
Saltwater anglers have access to the bulkhead along the picnic area where they can catch striped bass, bluefish, weakfish, summer flounder, tautog, winter flounder and black bass.
Fall is one of the best times of the year for fishing.
There is a small remnant maritime forest in the park that is located in a small hollow. The forest is dominated by Black Cherry, Sassafras, Eastern Red Cedar, and American Holly. A short loop trail heads out from the interpretive center, and has walkways to guide you over some parts of the route. There are interpretive signs along the way that tell you about the birds and plants you may see during your walk.
When you see how small this piece of land is and realized that this is about the only forested area left on Long Beach Island, you get a real sense of how much the barrier island has been developed. While there never were large expanses of forest on the island, patches that were this size and larger were probably commonly scattered along the portion of LBI that is close to the bay.
There is a long (1,000 ft plus) concrete walkway that extends from the lighthouse to a portion of the southern border of Barnegat Inlet. Here you can see boats coming and going from the bay and observe birds and sea life along the edge of the inlet jetty. The lighthouse dominates the landscape throughout this area and you will have a nice view of it as you stroll along the walkway.
visitors are welcome to walk along the Atlantic Ocean beach, which is accessed by walking
across a long open stretch of mainly open sand.
Spring and fall migration are great times to see a variety of birds – and a lot of different birdwatchers! It is no secret that birding in Barnegat Lighthouse State Park is usually pretty rewarding. Although the park is not that large, the rare patch of forest and the access to the bay, inlet and ocean provides a relatively rare patch of natural habit. Fortunately the birding is the best in the off season. During those times of the year the park is not as crowded as it can be during the summer. If you would like a LBI bird checklist there is a list for the wildlife refuge at the southern end of Long Beach Island.
May and October are the best times of year to see migratory waterfowl. There are often large numbers of ducks and other birds that gather to rest on the calm waters of the bay. You can typically get your best birding in during the evening and early morning, when the daily new collection of individuals is resting up to prepare for a new day of flight.
There are nature walks, maritime history talks and more given at various times of the year. These talks are free and typically begin at the interpretive center. A schedule is typically posted at the center.
The interpretive center, the base of the lighthouse, the picnic area and the jetty walkway are all accessible for people with disabilities. A beach wheelchair and regular wheelchair are available for anyone to borrow. Inquire at the interpretive center.
Alcoholic beverages, Fires