Camp Taylor Campground and Lakota Wolf Preserve

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This past weekend was gorgeous! Perfect camping weather! We hadn't been camping yet this summer (not even deck camping where we sleep in the tent on our back deck), so, on Friday afternoon, we decided to check if our favorite campground had any available sites. Fortunately, they did! So, early Saturday morning we headed off with our tent, sleeping bags, and campfire foods to Camp Taylor Campground in Columbia, NJ, about 55 minutes from Madison near the Delaware Water Gap.

We've stayed at Camp Taylor Campground a few times, and love reminiscing about when we took the kids just a month after Becca learned to walk 8 years ago. Let's just say, taking a new walker to a place where roots and rocks are common, and large pits with flames entice little hands, might not be the best idea. But now that the kids are 9 and 11, it was the perfect weekend trip.

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While we were checking in, our son spied a 99 cent pocket knife at the gift shop. We bought one for each kid, and they entertained themselves by whittling sticks while we set up the tent. Next, we took a hike through the campground and up a hill to Lakota Wolf Preserve. This preserve, located on the campground, has  four different packs of wolves. The Preserve has tours twice a day (10:30am and 4pm) many days a week (though call ahead to check and reserve since the schedule can change) that start from the Camp Taylor Campground gift shop. Since we were staying at the campground, they said we were allowed to hike up ourselves during non-tour times to look at the wolves, bobcats, and foxes (in separate fenced-in areas). Though the packs' areas are huge, there were some wolves near the fence, so we could see these beauties. One wolf started to howl, and after about the sixth howl, the other packs way back in the woods chimed in. The howls were incredible! We felt like we were in a movie.

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Our hike then led to the campground's two-acre lake, where we rented a paddleboat and kayak ($2.50 each for a half-hour) to explore the lake. We spent numerous nickels on fish food to feed the fish, and then splashed in the beach area (decided to skip swimming that day). Then on to the $1.50 per person mini golf course. Camp Taylor has been around for years, so some of the amenities, such as the mini golf course and playground, are a bit, ummm, rustic (rusty?), but for us, that just added to the kitschy feel of the place that we find charming. Putting around the puddles and mossy sections of the golf course added extra challenges for us!

We then headed back to our site, attempted to make a fire (which eventually worked!), and cooked up our hot dogs and s'mores. As we settled in for the night in our tent, we could hear the wolves howling in the distance, which was pretty awesome!

Camp Taylor Campground does offer a few different site options. Our site was a primitive tenting site, with no water or electric hook-ups. ($32 per night, for 2 people. Additional adult is $12 each; additional children $4 each.) There were pit toilets (a wooden structure built around a pit with a seat) and flush toilets (like a trailer port-a-potty with lights, kind of like an airplane bathroom), and a water pump in close walking distance. There are also sites with water and electric, seasonal sites, rustic cabins, deluxe cabins, and RV rentals. If you like the idea of sleeping in a tent, but not so sure about the "rustic" aspect of it or bringing all the gear, they also have a two "glamping tents." These tents are 10' x 20', have pre-hung tarps to protect from the rain, charcoal grill, and two chairs outside. Inside there is a padded floor, double bed, two chairs that can be reclined to single beds, electric fireplace heater, and lights inside and out. Just bring your own sleeping bag or bed linens, and you are set for a comfortable night of "glamping"!

Camp Taylor Campground is located at 85 Mount Pleasant Road, Columbia, NJ. Call (908) 496-4333 or (800) 545-9662. www.CampTaylor.com

Lakota Wolf Preserve is located at 89 Mount Pleasant Road, Columbia, NJ. Call (908) 496-9244. www.lakotawolf.com