bridge boontongorge

Boonton Gorge on the Rockaway River should be one of the most popular stretches of whitewater in NJ.
It is less than 5 minutes off of a major highway, has a large drainage, picks up very little "wood", and has about 3/4 of a mile of consistant class III-IV whitewater in a pretty basalt mini-gorge. The upper section is in a public park and wraps around a parking area making it easy to do "shoulder shuttle" and run repeated loops. On top of all of this, it sits in a great little town with a variety of nearby services. Should anyone have trouble on the river, there is a well devleoped trail system and numerous vehiclular access points to ease rescue operations. Emergency phones have even been installed at two locations. Unfortunately, despite all of it's attributes, Boonton Gorge is not as frequently paddled as one would expect. Due to misinformation, some of which has been spread by local officials, many have avoided it. (For a summary of recent events, click here)
It's time to clarify the situation and set the record straight.

Paddling on the Rockaway River through Boonton isn't illegal!
  • There is no Federal, State or Local (Boonton) law or ordinance which makes paddling on the Rockaway River through Boonton illegal (Click here to search Boonton Municipal Ordinances).
  • There is no Federal, State or Local law or ordinance which makes accessing the river for the purpose of paddling, from public lands illegal.
  • Grace Lord Park, which surrounds most of the Boonton Gorge Section of the Rockaway River,  is listed as public "Open Space".
  • Grace Lord Park is also "Green Acres Project" land.
  • The Rockaway River has historically been a thoroughfare across Northern NJ. In fact the Morris Canal follows the Rockaway River bed for much of it's route. This sets an historical precedent for the Rockaway River being a public right of way.
  • Despite local officials implications to the contrary, there is no provision for a mandatory $1000.00 fine for being "caught paddling" in the river. In addition to there being no local ordinance regarding paddling in Boonton;  
    • The highest fine that Boonton's Municipal Code allows for any single violation of it's ordinances is $1000.00 Article 3, 1-17
    • If the Town Council Sets a minimum fine, it cannot exceed $100.00 Article 3, 1-20
  • Jersey City Water Works owns the reservoir and the land surrounding it. They can, and most likely will, arrest you and fine you for trespass if you paddle out onto the reservoir. 
If you are approached by a police officer
while paddling or preparing to paddle in Boonton, here's what to do.


(To see who HAS paddled it over the years, when they paddled it and at what levels,
or to add your information to the list, click here)