Jamaica Bay NPS: a multitude of choices

Battery Harris

Established in 1972, Gateway National Recreation Area offers more than 26,000 acres of marshes, wildlife sanctuaries and recreational athletic facilities, miles of sandy beaches; indoor and outdoor classrooms; picnicking and camping areas, as well as historic structures and military installations, airfields, a lighthouse, and adjacent waters around New York harbor. The Jamaica Bay Unit includes some of the park’s most popular sites:

The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge: The Visitor Contact Station is located on Cross Bay Boulevard in Broad Channel (718 318 4340). This 9,155-acre refuge is considered one of the most significant bird sanctuaries in the Northeast. Composed primarily of wetlands, the Refuge is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, as well as horseshoe crab mating.

Floyd Bennett Field: The main entrance is located at the southern end of Flatbush Avenue, immediately before the Marine Parkway Bridge (718 338 3799). This decommissioned airfield has a wide variety of nature programs that includes urban camping, ecology walks, astronomy and gardening events and kayak trips. Experienced paddlers may bring their own kayaks or canoes and launch from the Seaplane Ramp into Jamaica Bay. For visitors without paddling or water experience, Gateway periodically offers beginner programs at Floyd Bennett Field.

Jacob Riis Park: The main entrance is located right off the Marine Parkway Bridge, adjacent to Fort Tilden. Dubbed “The People’s Beach,” this park is home to a 1932 landmark bathhouse, as well as ball fields and an 18-hole golf course. The Riis Park Beach Bazaar operates in the pavilion at the western end of the boardwalk.

Fort Tilden: a decommissioned U.S. Army base located at 169 State Road, Breezy Point (718 338 3799) this site is steeped in 20th century American history. Two former Nike missile silos now serve as both a canvas for local graffiti artists, as well as a viewing deck of the ocean, the bay and the city beyond. In addition to the beach and baseball fields, Fort Tilden is also home to Rockaway Artists Alliance.