Visiting the Lakota Wolf Preserve in New Jersey


Hundreds of years ago, wolves roamed free across the Garden State, piercing howls echoing throughout the forested hills and great mountains of New Jersey.

These regal animals once thrived throughout the Northeast, but by the 19th century, we had hunted wolves to near extinction. This began when the first wildlife regulation in 1675 New Jersey had a 15 shillings bounty for each wolf killed. That is $110 in today’s currency. 

Fast forward to 2024, and there are a few places in New Jersey where you can still hear wolves though no longer wild, howl. One of our favorites is Lakota Wolf Preserve, nestled within the Delaware Water Gap in Knowlton Township, Warren County.

Are There Wolves in NJ?

No, there are currently no wild wolf populations in New Jersey. Historically, New Jersey was home to the Eastern wolf, a subspecies of the gray wolf. However, due to unregulated hunting and deforestation, wolves were effectively eliminated from the state by the late 1800s. 

However, does that mean you can’t see wolves at all in NJ? While not exactly in the wild, you can still see wolves in the state in Lakota Wolf Preserve – the next best thing. 

About the Preserve

Lakota Wolf is owned and run by Jim Stein and Becky Mace, two animal lovers who raise and care for all who live at the Preserve with tenacity, grace, passion, and unwavering loyalty.

The preserve is the only of its kind in New Jersey, boasting educational tours and photography sessions. Wolves, foxes, bobcats, and various other wild animals can be seen. 

The wolves are initially raised in captivity to provide the best care at a young age, but Jim and Becky do their best to keep the wolves in the wild as much as possible.

Unless needed, there’s no contact, petting, or feeding the wolves at Lakota. The wolves also don’t get taken to fairs and other events throughout the state. The wolves of Lakota live their lives in their pack, surrounded by the wilderness of the Water Gap.

Take the Tour

There’s a lot to see and enjoy in each educational tour at the Preserve. Jim and Becky lead the “Wolf Watch” tours, two tried and true conservationists. They are knowledgeable about their animals and the natural world. Their passion and enthusiasm transfer smoothly to each visitor to the Preserve.

When you visit, you’ll park at Camp Taylor Campground in Columbia, New Jersey, and then you can either enjoy a beautiful half-mile nature walk up to the Preserve or catch a ride on their shuttle bus.

From the observation area alone, you’ll be able to see four different packs of wolves play and interact with each other. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll even get the chance to watch the howl. 

During the tour itself, you’ll learn about wolf packs’ social structure, eating habits, and other facts. Lakota Wolf Preserve is home to British Columbian, Timber, and Arctic wolves.

Winter is the Perfect Time for Photography!

Winter is an excellent time of year to go if you are a shutterbug interested in photographing the animals of Lakota.

Photography sessions are open from September through April, as the fall and winter months are the ideal time to photograph the wolves.

Professional and beginning photographers are welcome to register for a private, guided session around each wolf compound.

Since the preserve is a stress-free environment for the wolves, you’ll get the best photos, as the wolves will be living in their natural habitat. 

There is something extraordinary about this place. It is a hidden gem and a must-visit for any family or couple. The howling wolves are sure to give you goosebumps, and the wild nature of the foxes and bobcats is sure to put a smile on your face.

Complete Your Journey With a Hike

Make a day of it! Go for a hike in the Water Gap, head to Lakota Wolf Preserve, and then grab a beer at Buck Hill Brewery, only 15 minutes from the Preserve.

Have you visited Lakota Wolf Preserve before? Who is your favorite animal on the property? Let us (and other potential visitors) know in the comments.

Note: on their website, you can learn about Wolf Watch Tours, Photography Sessions, and more, including how you can help support the Lakota Wolf Preserve. Lakota also runs extraordinary events like their Midnight Howl and Dinner with Sassa. You can follow them on Facebook and Instagram to get the latest updates on the animals and the organization.

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