Guidelines, Rules, and FAQ's
Who can come to Duke Farms?
Can I interact with wildlife?
Can I bring plants to take home?
Can I bring balloons, fly a kite, play frisbee, or play ball?
Can I bring and fly my drone?
What noise level is appropriate?
Can I observe wildlife?
Are picnics allowed?
Can I hold a party or event rehearsal on the property?
Can I come with a large group?
Can I bring food?
Where do I dispose of trash and litter?
Is photography allowed?
Can I bring my dog/pet to the property?
Can I bring my service animal?
Is biking allowed?
Can I bring my electric bike?
What about roller-skating and skateboarding?
Can I sky or snowshoe?
What about swimming, wading, or fishing?
What Covid-19 precautions are in place?
Can I come to Duke Farms and bring a firearm/weapon, start an open fire, smoke or vape, go hunting/fishing/boating, bring a remote control vehicle, snowmobile, ATV, electric scooter or hoverboard, or solicit business or promote commercial activity?
Do you offer tours?
How do I get mobility and accessibility support?
Where are the bathrooms?
What do I do in case of an emergency?
What's your photography policy?
What's your solicitation policy?
At Duke Farms, we understand that by engaging our visitors as allies in conservation and environmental stewardship, wildlife and people can thrive together.
We know that wildlife flourishes when species are free from disruption and interference and have abundant food, clean water, appropriate habitat, and conditions that support a diversity of life cycle needs. We also know that nature heals. Studies prove that we are healthier when we spend time outside.
We invite you to explore and enjoy Duke Farms the way that is most comfortable for you, and that you consider your fellow visitors and our resident wildlife by deploying common sense and adhering to the following ground rules during your visit:
Respect for all people: We welcome guests of all backgrounds, identities, and abilities and are committed to safe and free access to our public park areas. We ask that you share our commitment to mutual respect for your fellow guests, and refrain from disruptions to the quiet enjoyment of Duke Farms. And remember, pedestrians and wildlife have the right of way on our roadways and trails.
Respect wildlife: Our primary mission is to be good stewards of this place for the benefit of wildlife and the environment. We hope that you will join us in this mission so that bald eagles continue to soar over Duke Farms. Please:
Do not pester, feed, or kidnap the wildlife. We want you and the animals to be safe.
Do not steal or trample the plants. We love our gardens and natural landscapes and know that you do, too. Take care where you step, stay on the trail and out of the trees, and help the plants thrive. And please, leave the flowers and plants where they are, the birds and bees need them more than you do.
No balloons, kites, frisbees, and ballplaying. We thank you for helping keep our wildlife safe and undisturbed and our park clean – when balloons and kites escape, they become litter, and animals get become entangled.
Be less noisy. Nature is best experienced when you can activate all your senses, and wildlife hides when it gets too noisy. Please, no loud music or boisterous gatherings. We invite you to slow down and listen. You might be surprised by what you discover.
Nature observance and enjoyment? Yes! This is what we are all about at Duke Farms. We have miles of trails to support many preferences and activity level – paved, gravel, and off-the-beaten-track; serene spaces and gardens for quiet contemplation; scenic vistas and views; and secret corners abundant with wildlife. Enjoy!
Picnics? Yes… and no.
Small and informal picnics? Yes! Nothing better than a sunny day spent on a blanket with a good book and a sandwich. So, grab the picnic basket, or takeout from our café, and enjoy!
Large and boisterous picnics? Sorry, no. No grilling, alcohol, catered events, parties, pop-up tents, bocce tournaments, pick-up football games, volleyball, etc. We do not have facilities or capacity to support larger, more active gatherings, like athletic fields, pavilions, grills, or electricity, and the noise and activity is disruptive to wildlife and other guests. There are much better places very close by to comfortably accommodate that kind of fun including Somerset County Parks or Hillsborough Parks and Recreation.
Parties and event rentals? No. We do not rent space for private parties or events. Sorry, no weddings, photoshoots, corporate events/meetings, memorials, birthday parties, baby showers, quinceanera, bar/bat mitzvahs, engagement parties, wedding proposal events, prom-posals, private memorials, baby gender reveals, beard competitions, wine and beer tastings, etc. See above for links to better venue options.
Large groups? Yes, please give us a heads-up! If you plan to visit with a group of 12 or more, we ask that you please fill out our Group Registration Form so that we can better accommodate your visit. Please call 908-722-3700 x 2 with any questions
Food at Duke Farms? Yes. You can bring your own (see above on “small and informal picnics”) or visit our Farm-to-Table Café for a variety of tasty offerings made with ingredients sourced from our own farm and those from the surrounding region. Enjoy the view of our pollinator meadow from our outdoor eating area, our friendly staff are ready to serve you.
Trash and Litter? No thank you. Take your refuse with you when you leave and dispose of and recycle appropriately.
Litter is not only ugly it can be deadly to plants and animals. Duke Farms is a “leave no trace” natural area and we ask you to join us in implementing minimal impact practices that allow everyone, including wildlife, to have an enjoyable time.
We do not have trash or recycling receptacles in the core area. You can find bags at our entrance gate to pack up and take your trash and recyclables with you.
Personal photography and videography? Yes!
At Duke Farms you’ll find beautiful vistas, intriguing architecture, colorful flora, and inspiring landscapes. So, snap away! We welcome everyone to capture memories of your good time and hone your nature photography and videography skills at Duke Farms. Don’t forget to share your snapshots on our social media channels. (Tag us @dukefarms or use hashtags #dukefarms #dukefarmsnj)
When taking your pics, please be mindful of your fellow guests and wildlife, and keep yourself safe. Do not block the flow of visitors and watch out for bikes; keep the planters, signs, or equipment where they are; stay a safe distance from wildlife, especially animals feeding or nesting; and please don’t climb the trees or architectural features.
Commercial photography and videography? Sorry, no.
Kindly find another place for your professional engagement/wedding, fashion, prom, pregnancy, baby-gender reveals, and family portrait photoshoots, as well as any photography used to create a product for sale or promotion.
We know from experience that professional photoshoots and commercial photography disturb wildlife and our guests and often result in the blocking of roads and access to buildings, trampling of plants, property damage, near misses with bikes and automobiles, and involve equipment, lighting, props, and wardrobe changes that are disruptive and threaten public safety. Honestly, it’s just too much for us to manage and we cannot make exceptions.
Dogs and pets? Sorry, no.
We personally love dogs and pets. Our wildlife residents? Not so much. Dogs and other pets are known to hassle wild animals and trample plants, and pet waste can pollute rivers and streams. Plus, many people are afraid of dogs, even the best most well-behaved pooch, and we want to be a safe and welcoming place for everyone.
Service animals? Yes.
If you rely on a service animal that is trained to support your access, safety, and enjoyment at Duke Farms, they are welcomed, guests. For more info on accessibility at Duke Farms, click here.
Biking? Heck, yeah!
We love bikes! And the best part about biking at Duke Farms? No cars! We only require basic common sense for safety: wear your helmets, follow the rules of the road, kindly stay on the 12+ miles of paved and gravel paths and off the mulched paths, and yield to walkers and wildlife.
Electric bikes? Yes, if you have mobility challenges and it aids you to better access Duke Farms, bring your electric bike; note that we do limit the speed limit to 15 mph on our roadways. If it’s just a way for you to go faster, no, please keep it at home.
Roller-skating and skateboarding? Yes. Be safe, wear a helmet and protective gear, and yield to the pedestrians and wildlife. Also, be mindful of bicycles. Electric skateboards, scooters, hoverboards, and motorized cars are not allowed,
Swimming, wading, or fishing? Sorry, no.
Please, stay out of the lakes and streams, and keep an eye on the kids. Our waterways are home to an abundance of wildlife including snapping turtles and other critters that are best left undisturbed. Also, we have taken great care to restore the lakeshores and stream banks to prevent erosion, improve water quality, and better support wildlife – disturbing the shoreline disrupts food supply, shelter, and protection for plants and animals. Enjoy the view but stay out of the water.
COVID-19? Masks are required and please stay socially distanced at least 6 feet from anyone not in your household. Specific guidelines and operational changes can be found here.
The obvious no-nos: No firearms, weapons, open fires, smoking/vaping of any substance, hunting or fishing, boating, remote control vehicles, snowmobiles, ATVs, electric scooters or hoverboards, or business solicitation/commercial activity.
Tours? No. But we do have fun educational programming for all ages.
We encourage visitors to explore on their own and do not give formal, guided tours. Our app can help with turn-by-turn directions on a Google-based map, audio tours, and other property info. The app can be downloaded here. You can also check our website and the app for notice of special educational programs on the property.
Need mobility and accessibility support? Do you have difficulty getting around on foot or by bike? Duke Farms provides an accessibility shuttle for those with mobility challenges and disabilities. The shuttle transportation the Orientation Center (between April 1 and October 1) between 10:00 am to 3:30 pm and goes to the Orchid Range ONLY (No Exceptions). Reservations can be made in parties of two (2) allowing for one passenger with the visitor requesting assistance. Children are NOT allowed on the Accessibility Shuttle. The shuttle runs once per hour on a pre-registration system. This allows enough time for transport and sanitization of the vehicle between reservations.
Please note that the assistance shuttle is a service to assist visitors with mobility restrictions and is not a ride. Click here to make an accessibility shuttle reservation. Please see up-to-date Covid-19 operational updates here.
Need emergency assistance while at Duke Farms? If it’s a true medical emergency, dial our safety and security staff at (908) 243-3600 or 911 and tell them you are at Duke Farms. If you require assistance for a less urgent matter, call our security team at (908) 243-3600.
We have trained public safety and security staff who take their job of keeping everyone safe very seriously. They have a close working relationship with local emergency personnel and are contacted to assist if there is a medical emergency on-site.
Don’t want to follow these ground rules?
These ground rules are designed to ensure that wildlife and habitat remain free from harm and disturbance and that your trip to Duke Farms is enjoyable and safe. If you have any questions or need clarification, you can call our staff at (number). We much prefer to focus on stewardship, education, and supporting your visit, but if any of our visitors refuse to follow these ground rules, we will ask them to leave. And possibly deny future access to Duke Farms.
To ALL photographers (professional/hobbyist/amateur/etc.) please read this policy thoroughly!
Commercial Photography is NOT allowed at Duke Farms. The following applies to photography on the grounds and in the buildings at Duke Farms:
Duke Farms is located on private property, portions of which are open to the public for nature observance and passive recreation, like walking and cycling. While we try to extend every consideration to individuals and groups wishing to informally photograph at Duke Farms, these activities must not interfere with normal operations or compromise the safety, the convenience of our visitors, the quality of our habitats, the quality of the visitor experience, our structures and other infrastructure.
Duke Farms reserves all rights for photographic reproduction of Duke Farms Property.
Photography for personal use
Photography for personal use may be conducted in designated areas without an appointment and free of charge. Portraits of any kind done by a professional photographer are not considered personal photography. A courtesy call or group form is requested if groups or classes plan to visit. Any groups or classes that charge a fee are considered to be a professional group and commercial photography and therefore not permitted.
Commercial photography is not allowed at Duke Farms under any circumstances. Commercial photography is defined as: any photography produced for a fee, for publication or promotional use; any portraiture done by a professional photographer, whether for a wedding, engagement, family portrait, maternity photos, anniversary, graduation, birthday or other event to be commercial photography, even if income is not derived; or the offering of any photography class on any portion of Duke Farms, except in connection with an approved Duke Farms program. Any of the following indicators shall be considered to be conclusive evidence, in the sole discretion of Duke Farms, to assume that any on-going or proposed photography at Duke Farms is commercial photography and therefore not allowed: the presence of significant photographic equipment beyond what an amateur photographer would normally use for wildlife, nature or informal photography of family or friends, such as light screens, lighting equipment, or multiple camera or equipment bags; the presence of alternate clothing for wardrobe changes; the inclusion of language of a photographer’s website that they offer photography at Duke Farms; or the presence of a group of people being instructed in photography by an obvious teacher.
Duke Farms specifically reserves all rights for photographic reproduction of Duke Farms Property. No commercial use of such photographs is permitted. In general, non-educational and commercial reproductions of Duke Farms Property will not be approved. Duke Farms reserves the right to license vendors, collect royalties, and initiate fees or otherwise control use of Duke Farms as deemed appropriate and lawful in the sole discretion of Duke Farms. Duke Farms reserves the right to approve final content for anything in which Duke Farms or its properties will appear, either by name or by visual representation.
The Following Rules Apply to All Photography at Duke Farms:
Flow of visitors along roads and pathways must not be blocked at any time.
No area of Duke Farms may be temporarily closed to the public to facilitate photography.
Visitors, photographers, and their equipment must stay on pathways – walking in plant beds or behind plant beds or placing equipment in beds is prohibited.
Plants and planted containers may not be moved, rearranged, or handled in any way. Blooms or any other plant material may not be picked.
Do not disturb wildlife, and maintain appropriate distances from all wildlife, especially wildlife that is nesting or feeding.
Visitors may not climb or hang from trees or architectural features.
Climbing, sitting, standing, or walking on walls, fences, structures, or water features is strictly forbidden.
Refusal to follow Duke Farms Policies
If any individual does not comply with the above conditions, Duke Farms reserves the right to deny permission to photograph, may request that the individual or group leave the premises, and/or deny access or entry in the future.
Duke Farms values the visitor experience. To provide a distraction-free environment for our visitors, we do not allow solicitation of any type or petitioning of any kind from any outside, non-sanctioned entity on Duke Farms property, regardless of the organization or cause being represented.
Commercial Solicitation means promoting or otherwise selling, purchasing, or offering goods and services for sale or purchase, distributing advertising materials, conducting fee-based classes or tours, commercial or "charter" bus tours, distribution of circulars or product samples, or engaging in any other conduct relating to any outside business interests or for-profit or personal economic benefit on Duke Farms property or using Duke Farms resources.
Solicitation also includes, but is not limited to, the circulation or distribution of literature, brochures, handbills, leaflets, signage, pamphlets, notices, cards, advertising, promotional items, petitions, registrations, etc. Informational tables and booths are not permitted, except in connection with events and meetings that have been approved in advance and in writing by Duke Farms.
Duke Farms property includes the grounds, buildings, parking lots, and other facilities.
Refusal to follow Duke Farms Policies
If any individual or group does not comply with the above conditions; Duke Farms reserves the right to prohibit the solicitation, to deny access to the property, to request that the individual or group leave the premises, and to deny future access to the property.
How is the game played?If using a handheld GPS device (such as a Garmin, Magellan, Lowrance, etc.):
- Register for a free basic membership on geocaching.com.
- Visit the Hide & Seek a Cache page to locate a cache nearby.
- Select a cache to view its cache page which lists the cache description, GPS coordinates, and other instructions on how to find the cache.
- Load the coordinates into your GPS device and naviagate to the hidden cache.
- Sign the logbook inside the cache and log your visit online on geocaching.com.
- Download geocaching.com app from your app store (there is an Intro version which only allows you to navigate to 3 caches before it makes you upgrade and there is the full version which is $9.99).
- Log-in using your geocaching.com username or create a free geocaching.com username if you do not have one.
- Once logged in, press "Find Nearby Caches."
- Choose the appropriate cache from the list. The cache page should appear.
- Press "Navigate to Cache." A map should appear showing your location in relation to the cache location.
- Navigate to the cache and sign the logbook when you find it. Go back to the cache page and press "Post a Log/Field Note" to post a log online.
Duke Farms GeoTrail
The Duke Farms GeoTrail is a geocaching challenge consisting of 11 different caches placed around the property. It is a unique journey through a variety of native habitats and landscapes.
To complete the challenge you have to fill out the GeoTrail brochure and uncover the secret word, then present your completed brochure to the front desk staff in the Orientation Center to receive your commemorative token (GeoTrail brochures are available at the front desk in the Orientation Center).