Frequently Asked Questions about
Recreational Boating on the Lower Passaic River
(from Dundee Dam & south)
When our club was first formed in 2006 there really wasn’t any good resource on the internet where a boater or fisherman (or fisherwoman) could go to get information about boating and fishing on the river. Therefore we have assembled a list of frequently asked questions which may be of help to you if you are considering venturing out on the Passaic.
Q: Is there any recreational boating activity on the Passaic River today?
A: Yes there is but not to the extent that it was many years ago. Today you may see a power boat cruising out on the river on rare occasions or you might see one of the rowing teams out on the river during a training session. Other than that the river is rather quiet.
Q: Are there still boat ramps along the lower Passaic River where I can launch a boat?
A: Technically the answer is “yes”. Remarkably today there are still 4 public boat ramps in existence on the lower Passaic though not all are usable. The list of boat ramps is:
Kearny, Nutley, Lyndhurst, and Rutherford
Q: Which of the boat ramps can be used to launch a boat from a trailer?
A: Only the Nutley and Kearny ramps can be used to launch a boat on a trailer and launching is limited to approximately 2 hours before and after high tide but no guarantees to this time frame.
Q: What general conditions can I expect to find at each of the boat ramps?
A: Conditions at the present time are as follows:
· The Lyndhurst ramp is currently closed by a locked gate and therefore not usable at the present time.
· The Rutherford municipal ramp is in poor condition and is not considered usable at all.
· The Nutley ramp and boat launch facility is actually in decent shape all things considered. However due to years of maintenance neglect the ramp is only usable when the river level is above low tide. We estimate that you have about a 2 hour window before and after the river’s high tide crest. At low tide the bottom of this ramp is engulfed in mud and not usable and badly in need of dredging. Parking is also VERY limited at this site.
· We are happy to tell you that the Kearny ramp is also in remarkably good shape. The town has provided an excellent parking lot. But again, just as you will find at the Nutley ramp, boat launching from a trailer is limited at this ramp to just before and just after high tide. The problem with this ramp is not mud and river silt as is the case in Nutley. The problem is that the concrete boat ramp stops at the river’s waterline edge at low tide and therefore is just not long enough at this tide condition. Again you probably have about a 2 hour window before and after the high tide crest to use this boat ramp as well.
Q: Do any of the boat ramps have floating service docks?
Q: What are the current town regulations regarding usage of these ramps?
A: At the present time we can only provide you with information that Nutley charges a fee for a boat launching permit. You’ll need to contact the Nutley recreation department for more information on how to purchase one. As we find out more information about the other ramps we will post that information here on our website.
Q: What about launching a canoe, kayak, or other paddle craft?
A: Due to the lighter weight and nature of launching paddle craft you would not have the tide conditions to worry about as you would with a boat on a trailer. The Kearny ramp provides easy paddle craft launching at all tide levels. However we can advise you that the Nutley ramp is rather “muddy” at low tide and launching a paddle craft there at a very low river water level would be challenging. We recommend that you visit the boat ramp prior to actually launching.
Q: Are there any floating service docks at any of the ramps where I can tie up my boat and temporarily disembark?
A: There are no floating service docks at any of the public ramps. The Kearny ramp does have a service dock that extends perpindicular out into the river but unfortunatley it is fixed and not floating. Thus at low tide it really doesn’t provide any real benefit other than a structure to temporarily tie up a bow or stern line.
Q: Are there any facilities on the river to obtain fuel for my boat?
A: There are no marine fuel facilities on the river. However there is a gas station on the opposite side of the river from the Nutley boat ramp which may be of use to you should you require emergency fuel. We will be surveying available nearby gas stations this coming season and will post that information on our boaters resource page.
Q: How far upriver towards the Dundee Dam can I travel by boat?
A: That depends on the draft of your boat. If you're using a paddle craft, kayak or canoe, then you could probably make it just about up to the Dundee Dam. However in most power boats that draw, let's say, about 12 or so inches of water then you're probably only going to be able to travel up to the Union Ave bridge that connects Passaic to Rutherford.
Q: As I enter the Passaic River from Newark Bay and travel upriver what bridges will I encounter? Can you tell me what their respective opening schedules are at the present time?
A: Being only surpassed by dredging and boat ramps the topic of bridges and bridge openings on the Passaic River is probably the #3 challenge facing boaters on the Passaic River today. Are there bridges on the lower Passaic? Yes. Do they open? (We were afraid someone was going to ask that question!) Technically the answer is “yes”, they DO open. But it is certainly a challenge. You can expect the bridges to require anywhere from a 4 hour advance notice for some of them to 24 hour advance notice for others. In the near future we will be adding additional information about bridge openings in the boater’s resources section. But at the moment we can at least provide you with a list of the bridges and their locations and what the current published opening schedules are. Here is a list of bridges:
Route 1& 9 Bridge: (Newark) Location: Mile 1.8, Advance notice: 4 hours,
Point-No-Point Railroad Bridge: (Newark) Location: Mile 2.6, Advance notice:4 Hours +10 mins)
Jackson Street Bridge: (Newark) Location: Mile 4.6, Advance notice: 4 Hours
Dock Street Railroad Bridge: (Newark) Location: Mile 5.0, Advance notice: On Signal (except rush hours)
Bridge Street Bridge: (Newark) Location: Mile 5.6, Advance notice: 4 hours
NJ Transit Morristown Line Railroad Bridge: (Newark) Location: Mile 5.8, Advance notice: 1 hour
Route 280: (Harrison) Location: Mile 5.8, Advance notice: 24 hours
Clay Street Bridge: (East Newark) Location: Mile 6.0, Advance notice: 4 hours
Abandoned Railroad Bridge: (Newark) Location: 6.1, (always in the up/open position)
West Arlington RR Bridge: (Kearny) Location: 8.0, Advance notice: 8 hou
Rutgers Street Bridge: (Kearny-Belleville) Location: 8.9, Advance notice: 4 hours
Avondale Bridge: (Nutley-Lyndhurst) Location: 10.7, Advance notice: 4 hours
NJ Transit Mainline Railroad Bridge: (Clifton-Lyndhurst) Location: 11.7, Advance notice: 4 hours
State Highway Rt. 3 Bridge: (Clifton-Lyndhurst) Location: 11.8, Advance notice: 24 hours
Union Ave Bridge: (Passaic-Rutherford) Location: 13.2 (fixed, no opening)
Gregory Ave. Bridge: (Passaic-Wallington) Location: 14.0 (fixed, no opening)
Second Street Bridge: (Passaic-Wallington) Location: 14.7 (fixed, no opening)
West Eighth Street Bridge: (Passaic-Garfield) Location: 15.3 (fixed, no opening)