Gateway National Recreation Area at Great Kills Park
Hiking, fishing and sightseeing. These are some of the exciting activities your family can enjoy at Gateway National Recreation Area in Great Kills. But as popular as these activities are, there are some other unique things to do at this South Shore park that could easily have your family spending a fun afternoon there—all for free!
What is Gateway National Recreation Area?
First, let’s address the question: What exactly is Gateway National Recreation Area? In short, it’s a local park system with several locations in New York and New Jersey that is part of the National Park Service (NPS) (that’s right—it’s federal!). Great Kills Park is one of those locations.
Great Kills Park became part of the NPS in 1972, when Gateway National Recreation Area was established. Fort Wadsworth and Miller Field are two other Staten Island parks that are part of Gateway.
If you’re curious about Great Kills Park’s history, it was created by urban planner, Robert Moses, and operated by the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation between 1947-1972 until it became part of NPS that same year.
At 523 acres, it surrounds Great Kills Harbor and is—quite simply—beautiful! And it’s so easy to plan a fun afternoon here.
Things To Do at Gateway National Recreation Area: Great Kills Park
Whether you and your kids love hands-on adventures like fishing and biking, or just like to take in views of beautiful scenery, here’s a list of things to do at Gateway to help create an exciting family-time itinerary:
Fishing. This outdoor sport is a great way for families to bond and immerse themselves in nature. Saltwater fishing is the only kind of fishing allowed at Gateway. While a license isn’t required for saltwater fishing, there is a saltwater registry for both NY and NJ. Note that permits are required at all times to park in Crooke’s Point, which is located at the southern end of the park. Permits are also required to park after hours here and at all Staten Island Gateway units. Important information about the necessary permits and fishing regulations is available at nps.gov.
Take photos! Great Kills Park is packed with beautiful land and harbor scapes that make for the perfect Instagram photo! Take a picture by the marina with some cool boats in the background, or on the beach or trails for great summer-time photo memories.
Hiking and biking. Almost any day of the year, park-goers can see many people walking, jogging and biking at Great Kills Park.
Go star gazing! Take in views of the night sky. The Amateur Astronomers Association hosts observing sessions at Great Kills Park. They’re free, open to the public, and even the telescopes are provided! The group meets once a month at 8pm. Upcoming 2023 dates are Saturdays, Aug. 19, Sept. 16, Oct. 21 and Nov. 18.
Birdwatching. Grab some binoculars, pack some snacks and head to this sprawling park to see some cool feathered friends! In spring, you might see shorebirds, waders and warblers. Summer brings in gulls, Baltimore orioles, swallows and American oystercatchers. You might see warblers and songbirds come fall, followed by hairy woodpeckers and waterfowl in winter. (These are just a few examples of bird species you’ll see in Great Kills Park. Check out Staten Island Parent’s bird-watching guide to learn more!)
Look for cute ground-dwellers! While you’re searching for birds soaring through the sky, perching on trees or gliding on the water, don’t forget about animals who love the ground! You might see a chunky groundhog munching on grass, or cute cottontails lounging on the lawns. Prey animals such as these blend in really well with their environment, so you’ll have to look closely to spot them.
What You Need to Know About Visiting Gateway National Recreation Area: Great Kills Park
Where is Great Kills Park located?
Great Kills Park is located at Hylan Boulevard and Buffalo Street in Great Kills.
What are the hours?
The park is open every day, 6am to 9pm, except by permit.
Is there a fee to enter the park?
No. The park is free and open to the public!
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