The Sounds of Silence A Trip to Greenbrook Sanctuary

For more than 60 years, the Greenbrook Sanctuary has served as an unparalleled refuge of natural beauty and wonder for city dwellers and suburbanites in search of a landscape without cars, without noise and without the flat grayness of concrete.

Located in Bergen County, New Jersey, the 165-acre Greenbrook Sanctuary is administered by the Palisades Nature Association and is situated less than five miles north of the George Washington Bridge. Throughout its six-decade history, the sanctuary has been the place to go for people who love the peace of nature but simply cannot find it in a city park or a greenery-filled rooftop.

"We're close to the metropolis," says naturalist Nancy Slowik, Greenbrook's director. "Folks come here to get away. This is a place where people have the opportunity to unplug." The nature preserve has no electricity, so "up until the arrival of cell phones, you never even heard phones ringing here," says Slowik. As its brochure says, Greenbrook is "a sanctuary rather than a park" and it is dedicated to the "protection and appreciation of nature rather than recreation…." This is no day at the beach with watercraft and the smell of grills. This is a place for serenity and quiet.

One of the best features of the sanctuary is its proximity to densely populated urban areas. It's close and reachable by anyone who wants to visit, either by car or by city bus. It should be noted, however, that Greenbrook is a closed nature preserve, meaning that membership is required before setting foot on the grounds. Greenbrook's staff and volunteer leadership have kept membership prices low—$35 per year for individuals and $45 per year for families—in an effort to ensure that the sanctuary is open to any and all people who want to experience it.

"It's clearly affordable," Slowik says. "We try to keep it that way by generating more memberships, not raising prices." Greenbrook has approximately 1,900 members, and 40 percent of those are family memberships.

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