Vermont’s 55 state parks are open for the season, including 36 campgrounds ready to welcome overnight visitors.
This year, Vermont State Parks are not offering boat rentals or opening its concession stands. The parks suspended rentals of cabins and cottages this year, and picnic tables have been removed from day-use areas.
The good news is that camping at Vermont State Parks is open for tent, RV, and lean-to camping. Day-use areas are open for swimming and exploring.
“It’s going to be a little different, and we hope people will understand,” says Vermont State Parks Director Craig Whipple. “I think we’re going to be very busy, and we’ll be working hard to follow cleaning and sanitizing protocols.”
Bathrooms will be cleaned twice daily, and staff members are required to wear masks. Whipple says visitors will be strongly encouraged to wear masks as well.
“We’re reminding park visitors that they have a role in all this—to come prepared with wipes and sanitizer,” Whipple says. “They should assume whatever they touch is only as clean as the last person left it.”
Getting Outside and Camping at Vermont State Parks
Vermont State Parks are a big draw for locals and out-of-state visitors, drawing just over a million visits per year. Over the past decade, Vermont State Parks has experienced a 40 percent increase for day use and camping, Whipple says.
Whipple, who was interviewed shortly before Vermont State Parks opened for the season in late June, couldn’t predict how busy the season would be, given the unpredictability of the pandemic.
“I’ve been in this industry for a long time, and I have never seen anything play out as powerfully as this,” Whipple says. “People are concerned about their health, and they’re stressed. The parks are seeing a lot of people, and it’s playing out the theory that in those times of personal and social anxiety, people want to get outside.”
Now that campgrounds are open at Vermont State Parks, reservations are filling up, especially on weekends. Some of Vermont’s busiest parks, including Grand Isle State Park, Burton Island State Park, Little River State Park, and Branbury State Park, are located in the central and northern regions of the state. In the southern area of the state, places like Quechee State Park, Camp Plymouth, and Silver Lake (one of my personal favorites) are also popular.
At Camp Plymouth, located along Echo Lake in Ludlow, weekends are nearly booked for the season as most camping reservations were made before the pandemic arrived. Camp Plymouth offers only group camping, and the same groups tend to reserve year after year. Meanwhile, its day-use area is one of the busiest in the state.
“We have a nice swimming beach area, a playground, and in normal years, boat rentals and concession stands,” says Tiffany Soukup, who co-manages the park with her husband, Chris Brader. “A lot of people love to flock here. We are trying to get the word out to people that for this year, they should bring their own chair or picnic blanket and spread out. We have a lot of nice grassy areas in this park, and so far, visitors have been able to find a nice little spot to enjoy the park while keeping their distance from others.”
Those looking for the quieter side of the park can cross the road and take a half-mile walk to a vista or enjoy a quiet spot to sit alongside Buffalo Brook, she says.
“Our location is right on Echo Lake, and with beautiful forests all around and a sugar house with great maple creemees just down the road, it makes us a very Vermonty place to visit or hold events,” Soukup says.
Camping at Vermont State Parks: How to Make Reservations
- You can reserve online, call the Reservation Call Center at 1-888-409-7579 (Mon–Fri, 9 a.m.–4 p.m.), or call the park directly during the season.
- Reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance up to the day prior to arrival. Same-day reservations can only be made by calling the park. Payment is due in full at the time of making reservations.
- Reservations for day use facilities at Kill Kare, Kingsland Bay, and Mount Philo cannot be made online. These must be handled by the Reservation Call Center or the park.
- Reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance. The inventory for the entire month opens the first business day of the month at 9 a.m. for all parks with the exception of Burton Island (where the inventory opens the first business day at 9 a.m., on or after the 15th of each month).
- Pets are permitted in all campgrounds for a per-night fee.
For more information, visit vtstateparks.com