May 2011 

Vermont State Parks


Greetings Everyone!

Craig hiking with his grandson 

All of us at Vermont State Parks are busily preparing your favorite parks for this coming summer! Even though parks are open for use year-round, the summer season is when we fully staff the areas, turn on all the utilities, and offer the full course of state park services. It's an exciting time for us! And we have lots of new things for you this year.

There are more camping cabins at Button Bay, Woodford, and Wilgus State Parks. The beach house renovation at Elmore is done and the historic hotel building at Kill Kare State Park should be ready for your visit also. Fun events have been planned, our Junior Ranger program has a whole new look, and our skilled Park Interpreters are back with us to help us all understand the wonders of Vermont's outdoors! All our popular programs, Venture Vermont Outdoor Challenge, Outdoor S'More, and Check Out the Parks library pass program are back and stronger than ever!

So get your summer outdoor gear ready, make your plans, and fire up your friends and family for summer adventures just around the corner!

See you out there!

Craig Whipple
Director, Vermont State Parks 

Outdoor Observer: Partridge Spooking
By Rebecca Phelps, Education Coordinator

Hen Grouse
A hen grouse

Have you ever walked silently through the Vermont woods only to have your peaceful solitude destroyed by a bird explosion right at your feet? If so, you have experienced what my mother calls "partridge spooking." (As in, I was running down the Shore Trail at Brighton State Park when I spooked a partridge and almost peed my pants!) These otherwise quiet forest birds are more accurately called ruffed grouse, and right now, you can hear ruffed grouse making a completely different type of noise.

It is spring time in the valleys of Vermont. Trees are growing leaves and wildflowers are popping up out of the earth. This time of year brings so much new life, including some baby animals in the forests of Vermont. Ruffed grouse are getting ready to make their shallow leaf lined nests at the foot of trees, rocks, or logs. To attract a mate, the male ruffed grouse makes a very unique noise.

If you ever thought you heard a distant motor starting in the tranquil early spring woods, you may have heard the male grouse. Males attract females by making a drumming noise-rapidly beating their wings on a fallen log on the forest floor. This drumming is so low pitched, you might feel the percussion of this call and not audibly hear it.

Ruffed Grouse
A ruffed grouse

These birds are cryptically colored to match the colors of the forest floor where they live. Although they are pretty large in size, and shaped like chickens, they are difficult to see because of their camouflaged coloration, and their super slow movements. You are more likely to hear them drumming or hear them exploding off the forest floor, than you are to see them. Grouse prefer early successional mixed hardwood forests, which is great news because those types of forests are abundant in Vermont. Listen for them in Big Deer, Coolidge, Fort Dummer, Mount Philo, Woodford, and Lake Carmi State Parks, and you might get to hear them drumming too. 

Free Park Entry All Weekend!
girl with fish
What a catch!
Come help celebrate Vermont Days with FREE day use entry all weekend into any Vermont State Park, June 11-12, 2011. In addition to lots of activities in the parks (hiking, boating, games, and programs), everyone can fish for FREE on Saturday, June 11th in any Vermont State Park - no license is required.

If you are doing Venture Vermont, you can get points for: making your own fishing pole and catching a fish with it, fishing in the parks, practicing catch-and-release fishing, bringing in a friend with you who is under 15 years old, and touring a fish hatchery. That could be a lot of points! Click here to download a 2011 scorecard.

This is a great weekend to explore a park you've never visited before. Visit for more information.

Have fun getting outside and getting a great value on special natural resources near you. With 52 parks to choose from, we hope that you experience more than one this VT Days weekend!

BOF_eventJune 3rd - 5th (Friday - Sunday)
Becoming An Outdoor Family

All Weekend
Stillwater State Park

Gain hands-on basic outdoor skills and experiences for the entire family! A variety of classes are offered over this special weekend set in the Groton State Forest. Registration is required and classes are on a first-come first-served basis. The cost is $165 per family which covers your campsite, instruction, and materials. Visit UVM Extension's website for more information. 

casting-fishingJune 4th (Saturday)
Casting Workshop  
9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Seyon State Park

Fish like a pro! This special casting clinic is taking the first 10 who sign up for three hours of personal instruction. The cost is $60/person and includes a two-hour boat rental, equipment, instruction, and a lunch afterwards. Call Seyon for more information or to reserve your spot, 802-584-3829.

birdJune 18th (Saturday)
Bird Walk with Sue Wetmore
7:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Branbury State Park

Sue will take participants on a morning walk to find breeding birds of the Branbury area. Warblers, thrushes, vireos, and more are some of the possible species to spot. If you're lucky, you may see a peregrine falcon nesting on Rattlesnake Point! If you aren't camping in Branbury the night before, be sure to call the ranger to RSVP as the gates will be closed that early in the morning. 

music_kids playing WilgusEvery Saturday Evening
Music with Gary and Pat  

7:00 PM
Townshend State Park

Bring your own instruments and sit in, sing along, or just kick back and enjoy. Park staff will lead this fun evening of music in a beautiful setting.

We're so excited to open our gates for the season. They're a fun place to visit and to work! See you in the parks! 

Vermont State Parks

Parks Are Open! 

Branbury Open

The season has begun! Eight Parks are now open!  Read about them and some of the reasons why we love these particular parks in our blog article.

The open parks are: 


Gifford Woods

Grand Isle
Lake Carmi


Little River

Smugglers Notch



The rest of Vermont State Parks open May 27th in time for Memorial Day Weekend!

Wanting to see which parks have camping availability for the Memorial Day Weekend? Check out this list on our home page.

Can't wait!

ANR Secretary Deb Markowitz and Why Venture Vermont Outdoor Challenge and State Parks are Important!
Deb Markowitz
Click on the image to view the video

Secretary of ANR Deb Markowitz and her daughter, Sandra, have started their challenge this year. Click here or on the photo above to watch them in action!

When asked about Venture Vermont and Vermont State Parks, Deb had this to say,

"Vermont's State Parks offer something for everyone. They provide opportunities to have fun swimming, hiking, camping, and enjoying our beautiful natural environment. Our great interpretive programs and park naturalists can make Vermont State Parks a great place to learn about the special place we live. Vermonters take great pride in our state parks - and those of us who work at the Agency of Natural Resources take great pride in giving all Vermonters the chance to get outdoors -- and enjoy!"

Having a blast is spreading! In its first year, Venture Vermont had over 250 people complete the challenge. Last year, 350 people submitted successful scoresheets. This year, we hope even more people are ready to get outside to do fun activities. 

Smelling buttercups
Stopping to identify (and smell) the flowers (1pt)


Those that earn 250 points or more will win a valuable prize - a medallion good for day use entry into any Vermont State Park this season and all of next season! Check out some photos

from previous year's participants.

We look forward to seeing your scoresheet and wish you Good Luck in the Challenge! Download a scorecard here and get started today!

Flooding at Sand Bar
Flooding in Sand Bar State Park

High Water on Lake Champlain

The recent heavy rainfall combined with snowmelt have made for record breaking water levels in rivers, streams, and Lake Champlain. Sand Bar, Burton Island, Woods Island, Knight Island, Kill Kare, and Alburg Dunes State Parks have all been impacted by the high waters, but luckily all 46 other state parks are opening on time including, DAR, Grand Isle, Kingsland Bay, and Button Bay on Lake Champlain.

A park opening update can be found on the Vermont State Park homepage. Click here to access it.

In addition to the normal preparations for the parks - raking leaves, picking up sticks or garbage, moving the picnic tables, painting, etc., some Lake Champlain parks need even more attention this year. Although we have to wait awhile until the lake levels decrease, we'll gladly accept interested volunteers!

If you are able and willing to generously give your time and energy to any of the Lake Champlain parks, Sand Bar, Niquette Bay, Knight Point, North Hero, Burton Island, Knight Island, Woods Island, Kill Kare, or Alburg Dunes, please contact Lisa Liotta at 802-343-7236. Leave a message that you are interested in volunteering and she will get back to you.
Middlebury Mountain Club Volunteers at Branbury State Park
For your efforts, you'll receive a free night of camping or a punch card for 10 day use visits. 

Stay tuned for more information!
Follow-up Links
Half Moon State Park Cookout
A family cookout at Half Moon Pond State Park