At the moment, New Jersey is in the midst of an environmental renaissance. Since 1972, over 100 acres of open space, 21 parks, and eight miles (12.8 kilometers) of trails have been built in the Meadowlands using environmentally friendly, low-impact construction methods and recycled materials. However, you might be surprised to know that one of the most famous and successful parks in the Meadowlands used to be a garbage dump. Discover the story of how a New Jersey landfill became a thriving nature reserve in Lyndhurst.
To get to the Lyndhurst Nature Reserve, visitors have to drive to Richard W. DeKorte Park by taking the long and winding Valley Brook Road that passes office buildings and factories and then going down Disposal Road and finally to the park’s entrance. At first, it might seem as though the GPS has led you in the wrong direction, or you’re about to stumble upon a classic New Jersey mob character making an illegal deal straight out of The Sopranos. In many ways, it’s these characteristics that make the Lyndhurst Nature Reserve such a fascinating success story.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
From the 1950s and all the way up until 1971, garbage was being illegally dumped on the shores of the Hackensack River’s estuaries, which flow out into the river and ultimately the Atlantic Ocean. At that time, the 3.5-acre site was a picture of careless pollution and a heartbreaking example of land mismanagement that threatened the rich ecological systems of the wetlands area. Finally, after nearly three decades, the community got to work.
The year 1989 saw restoration efforts and the transformation of the area, which is completely unrecognizable today. It was initially dubbed as the “experimental park on a landfill” and was the first landfill-to-parks project in New Jersey as well as one of the first in the entire country. The Kingsland Overlook, a hilly section of the Nature Reserve, was the first project to use a synthetic liner to cap a sanitary landfill. And in a true testament to recycling, the liner that protects the area was manufactured from 400,000 recycled soda bottles. Now, the overlook is a thriving wildlife habitat with healthy native plant communities such as wildflowers and perennials. The park notes that there has also been an increase in the diversity of animal species and birds—something that’s evident as you walk around the quarter-acre site.
When looking around, it’s easy to notice an abundance of marsh grasses, which were nearly wiped out during the time of its continuous pollution. Although it is certainly heroic to see the native marsh grasses thrive, their comeback is due in large part to the breakwater wall that was built around the perimeter to keep the landfill from seeping out. After it was sealed in, some soil was brought in and shaped to form the hills and valleys seen today that emphasize this natural succession.
Beyond the overlook are even more examples of nature’s resilience. For instance, the mile-long (1.6 kilometers) Saw Mill Creek Trail that was once an access road for electric lines is now a walking path that takes visitors out into the wetland’s mudflats and offers a panoramic view of the New York City skyline.
The remaining areas of DeKorte Park are dedicated to environmental education and conservation. It houses an observatory that is open to the public, an education center for school tours, and the administrative buildings for New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority (NJSEA). What makes it even more special is that, like the entire Meadowlands area, it lies under the Atlantic Flyway, a major migratory path for birds, including those on the endangered species list. For this reason, it attracts many bird-watchers, nature lovers, and photographers who appreciate this unique and diverse urban eco-system.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.