Geology of the New York City Region

73. Jones Beach State Park

Jones Beach is the most popular bathing beach on Long Island. The park opened in 1929 and comprises 2,413 acres with 6.5 miles of ocean beach and a half mile of bay-facing beach. The construction of the park facilities at Jones Beach was a massive task, involving the transport of over 4,000,000 cubic yards of sand to build up beaches and raise the developed parklands areas.

The best time to go is in the late fall to early spring when the crowds have vanished. During the winter the beach builds up a dark veneer of garnet sand sorted by the constantly blowing wind. (The garnet is derived from the reworked glacial till that originally came from ancient metamorphic rocks from the Connecticut Highlands and northern regions of the continent.) Wind is constantly moving the sand eastward, whereas the longshore drift is moving it westward. Like all the other inlets along the south shore of Long Island, a jetty has been built to prevent the filling of Jones Inlet. Much of the West End of the park is an undeveloped area set aside as a plant and bird refuge. Bird watching is popular along the coast during migrations.

Unfortunately, Jones Beach is really a heavily-used recreational playground, and it really isn't a good place to take a class to study the beach. During the warm months it can be extremely crowded, especially on the weekend, and the western end of the park where some of the best shore dunes can be found is an official "clothing optional area." Robert Moses State Park and Fire Island offer greater resources for nature study (except perhaps human physiology).

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Last modified: 3/11/2019