December 2011
A beautiful fall day overlooking Waterbury Reservoir in Little River State Park
(taken by 2011 Photo Intern Lene Gary)
Vermont State Parks
Greetings Everyone,

It's late fall, and those of us who really love Vermont winters are anxiously awaiting its arrival. Soon, no doubt! Despite our anticipation, we mustn't overlook the great outdoor opportunities we have during this late fall season.

Hiking and paddling this time of year offer views through the forests that we can't get during the summer. With the foliage completely off the deciduous trees, you can easily see the terrain, cliffs, boulders, and even old stone foundations that are well hidden by the foliage or snow the rest of the year. And, you can observe virtually all the natural world preparing for winter in the north. So, take a little time, set aside your holiday preparations, bundle up, and head out for a few great excursions before you bring out the skis and snowshoes!

Speaking of the holidays, check out our State Park Holiday Packages on sale now through our website and call center. Easy shopping and..."no assembly required"!

Also, for the first time, we are organizing a series of "First Day Hikes". What a great way to start the New Year and get a crack at fulfilling those resolutions! Join us for some short, easy, family fun guided hikes at several State Parks on January 1. Stay tuned by checking our website as we complete our planning!

Happy Holidays!

Craig Whipple
Director, Vermont State Parks
Outdoor Observer: Autumn
By Rebecca Phelps,
Education Coordinator

Big Deer Fall View
Sitting quietly in
Big Deer State Park
Park Rangers have packed up for the season, heading to warmer climates or on to their winter jobs. The leaves have mostly fallen off the trees and weather forecasts threaten snow with more and more frequency. When you head out into the Vermont woods today, smell the sweet stink of decomposing leaves and feel the sharp sting of a cold breeze. Vermont in late autumn may look simply like a landscape sliding into winter, but when you get out into it, you will be amazed at what you can find. Last fall, I scouted the woods for days and then sat still on a rock for hours before spotting a giant eight point white tailed deer buck emerge from a clump of low shrubby hemlocks. Sometimes seeing animals in the fall takes great patience, like waiting for a deer for hours while your feet slowly turn into ice cubes. Sometimes you will stumble upon unexpected activity in the woods that will surprise you.

Kingfisher Bird
A kingfisher taking in the scenery
Wildlife may seem more elusive at this time of year, and by now most migratory birds have left the northeast to travel to warmer wintering grounds. Red-tailed hawks, wood ducks, and belted kingfishers are the last migratory birds to leave Vermont. You should feel lucky if you spot one of these during your autumn ramble. However, you can readily see some of the familiar winter forest companions, the chickadees, nuthatches, and juncos. Watch for these small forest birds as they stock up on seeds for the long winter months in chattering, active, feeding flocks.

In spring, we look forward to beautiful flowers emerging from the wet soil and unfolding from the tips of tree branches.There is one small shrubby tree in Vermont that does not pay attention to this usual schedule of reproduction. When you head out into the late fall woods of Vermont, you can see some fresh, new flowers opening on witch-hazel branches.

Witch hazel blooms
In late fall, after all leaves have fallen off the witch-hazel, the seed pods pop out seeds at great distances, sometimes as far as 20 feet! Then, the spindly yellow blossoms appear on the branches. You can see these flowers as last remnants of life on trees in the autumn woods; it is sometimes startling to see fresh yellow flowers in the otherwise cold and sometimes snowy woods. Witch-hazel trees grow all over Vermont, often in wet areas or on edges of streams. Look for them during autumn rambles in Gifford Woods, Mt. Ascutney, Underhill, Branbury, Little River, Maidstone and Smugglers Notch State Parks.

Autumn in Vermont is a great time to explore nature and look for signs of life, so go ahead and take a break from stacking your wood or your raking leaves, and have an autumn adventure in a state park near you.
Meet Nick Caputo
Regional Ranger Supervisor and Avid Park Visitor in the Off-Season

Nick CaputoNick hails from Williamsport, PA where as a child he loved being outside. His family would go to Hills Creek State Park, in Pennsylvania which might be what laid the foundation for his future career in parks.

After college, Nick was offered a position with Vermont State Parks, where he met his now wife, Leila (who also worked for the parks). They have a one-and-a half-year old daughter, Chloe, who has already been camping in Elmore State Park! When he's not spending time with his family or in his backyard gardening (and eating his delicious crops while he works), you can find him in the state parks.

Nick started out working as an Assistant Ranger in Maidstone State Park and admits, because it was his first experience in a Vermont State Park, it remains a favorite. But, if he had to choose his absolute favorite park, it would have to be Brighton State Park. His reason being, "There's so much to do in and around Brighton. Between the great canoeing, kayaking, hiking, fishing, and cool history, you're never bored and I love how remote it is. The sounds of the loons on Island Pond make you feel like you're the only person in the Northeast Kingdom."

Nick shared more of his experiences below:

Nick's chloe
Nick and his little one, Chloe, enjoying a day in the parks

What's your favorite thing about your job?
I love many things about my job, but most, I would say is watching people having fun in the parks. I really enjoy the fact that I get to help provide families and friends with the opportunities to make great memories.

With over thirteen years in the parks, what memories of yours stand out as unforgettable?
An unbelieveable one was when I was living in Mt. Ascutney over the winter. I was away from the park for the day, but left the gate (going up the summit road) open for maintenance staff on snowmobiles. The road is closed, as many steep Vermont mountain roads are in the winter, so I wouldn't have even expected anyone to attempt driving up in a car, but I was wrong. I came back to a couple who had made it a whole mile up the road before getting utterly stuck. They were lucky to have not been hurt! We called a truck to get them out, which wasn't inexpensive for them.

Another really nice memory was when I switched parks as a ranger over the years (going from Maidstone to Woodford to Ascutney to Bomoseen), I had families follow me! I've made some great connections which is another thing that I love about my job.

A partridge

It's hunting season. Do you hunt and if so any secrets?
I do duck and partridge hunting usually in the Northeast Kingdom. Maidstone State Park has some great land for bird hunting, which is where I like to go. As for secrets, I eat everything that I get while hunting, so I have a secret recipe that makes any bird taste delicious. It involves using apple and bacon as stuffing, but I can't tell you the rest, because it's a secret.

Finally, you've traveled a lot, have you found any state parks to rival Vermont's and if you could improve one thing about VT State Parks what would it be?
I would add more playgrounds, but actually, that is something that is in the works! As far as how I like other states' parks, they don't compare in my opinion. Vermont's are the best!

Thanks Nick!

The New & Improved

Frank Spaulding, Parks Projects Coordinator, highlights some great work in the parks that is ready to be enjoyed in the 2012 season.

Kill Kare House
Kill Kare's restored house
1. The Kill Kare House (Kill Kare State Park) - this renovated  historic building now has an improved event room, a small kitchen, new bathroom facilities, accessibility, and beautiful new porches.

2. New Cabins (Woodford State Park) - Woodford now has 4 brand new cabins ready for campers to use this upcoming season! 

3. Solar Panels - in many of the state parks, such as Bomoseen, Gifford Woods, and Silver Lake, newly installed solar energy systems will provide hot water to the bathrooms while saving energy costs.

Underhill's restored picnic pavilion
4. Civilian Conservation Corps Restoration Work - back in the 30s many of the parks' buildings were built by the CCC. This past year, many of these historic structures were restored including: log lean-tos, pavilions, and fireplaces at Maidstone, Allis, Coolidge, and Underhill State Parks.

While you're visiting the parks in the off season, check them out. You can reserve your pavilion or lean-to for 2012 by calling our Reservation Call Center 888-409-7579 or by visiting our online reservation system.
This is the official newsletter of Vermont State Parks

Thanks for such a great season!
For a video of our favorite highlights, click here.

-Vermont State Parks
Holiday Gift Packages are Back with New Items!

A full season of family fun package
Make gift buying easy on yourself this year! Vermont State Parks is offering three different gift packages for the holidays. We send them gift wrapped and ready for opening to your address or the person you are giving it to! See what's in each below (Prices listed include gift wrapping, shipping, and handling):

Day Tripper

Includes: 1 punch card (good for 10 visits to any Vermont State Park, no expiration), 1 hour boat rental, 1 state parks hat, the newest winter issue of Vermont Life, and 1 state parks tote bag
Cost: $39


Waterbottle with Scene
Stainless steel water bottle

Weekend Getaway
Includes: 2 nights of lean-to or tent/RV camping, 1 armful of firewood, 2 state parks water bottles, the newest winter issue of Vermont Life, and 1 state parks tote bag
Cost: $79

Full Season of Family Fun
Includes: 1 vehicle pass (good for one vehicle with up to eight people in it for unlimited day use entry into any state park for the whole 2012 season), 2 state parks water bottles, 1 state parks bumper sticker, the newest winter issue of Vermont Life, and a state parks tote bag
Cost: $99

2012 season pass
A 2012 vehicle pass

In addition, we have passes, t-shirts, pins, hats, travel mugs, gift certificates, sweatshirts, and more.

Visit our Buy State Parks Gear or call our reservation center (888-409-7579) to place your order today!


2011 Photo Intern Spotlight: Caitlin Vollmann

We are so grateful to all of the Vermont State Parks Photography Interns. They did an exceptional job of capturing rare moments and scenes in the parks this summer. Thank You!  One intern exceeded all our expectations. Meet Caitlin Vollmann.
Caitlin Vollman 2011 Photo Intern
In her words, "I am an 11 year old who loves everything. I love to be outdoors enjoying nature and love trying new things. I also enjoy doing a variety of sports and activities: playing ice hockey, golfing, horseback riding, fencing, skiing, and I am a member of the Green Mountain 4H Club. Learning and experiencing new things I find fun and exciting."

Check out the great photos that Caitlin took while interning click here.

Thanks to Caitlin and all the other Photo Interns for providing many of the great photos you see online and in our published print. To see more photos click here.
Off-Season Camping and Day Use: What You Need to Know

winter lean-to
An off season visitor
Off-season day use visits and camping are magical experiences with many perks. Entry into the parks is FREE (the camping is free too), the parks are very quiet, there are no bugs, and a fire never felt so good. Before you head out to do some cooler visiting and camping, remember:
  • Make sure you've filled out an off season request form
  • Restrooms are closed and water is shut off
  • There are no trash facilities - carry-in/carry-out
  • There are no rangers or staff present
  • Park outside the gate (even if it is open, a staff member might just be doing a quick check and can lock you in!) For parking info click here.
  • Hunting is permitted in State Parks, so be sure to wear orange if not near the developed parts.
Enjoy the parks during the cooler and quieter months.
Congratulations to All Venture Vermont Winners!

Over 330 people of all ages completed the Venture Vermont Outdoor Challenge for 2012. Well Done! 

Venture Vermont 2011 Coti familyTheir prize for earning 250 points or more is a medallion that allows day use entry into any Vermont State Park for 2011 and 2012 seasons - a valuable prize!
Venture Vermont 2011The photos taken as part of the challenge were fantastic. Check out some of the ones we thought were the best by clicking here.
A Big Thanks!
Lene Gary Photo Intern 2011Lene Gary:
A writer, poet, and recreational photographer living in central Vermont. Her writing has won national literary awards and appears in both print and online journals. Her photographs have been published in One New England, Vermont Nature, and The Bridge. When she's not writing or snapping photos, she can be found paddling her well-worn Mad River canoe. Lene captured the Little River scene at the top of the newsletter.

Ellie Stover 2011
Ellie Stover:
A student at the Rochester Institute of Technology in NY majoring in Biomedical Photographic Communications. She also completed a ten-week internship for Vermont State Parks over the summer to study and help remove invasive species from many of the parks. Ellie took the up-close photo of our Stillwater toad.
Follow-up Links
What can we do better for you? Send us an email! We appreciate your feedback and thanks!

Check out our blog, facebook, and twitter pages. Click on the icons below to get there.
Frog Bottom Banner Ellie Stover
One of the residents of Stillwater State Park (taken by 2011 Photo Intern Ellie Stover)