September 2012
Vermont State Parks

Greetings Everyone!


Even though schools are back in session, that doesn't mean state parks are closing down! As you can see from this latest edition of our e-newsletter, there is still a lot going on in your favorite parks! Camping, hiking, fishing and picnicking are at their very best this time of year.  For many of us, early fall is THE time of year to camp.

Fewer bugs, fewer crowds, clear skies and air with just a hint of a chill...all come together to make spending a few nights outdoors truly special. Of course that doesn't even account for the renowned Vermont foliage! It is beginning to come on strong and all reports are that we should have another outstanding fall season for the vivid forest coloring that people from all over the world travel here to see. Experience it for yourselves, up close, by "camping in the colors" in one of the many state park campgrounds that are still fully operational. In most cases, there is plenty of room so reservations aren't needed, but feel free to call ahead just to be sure. Fall really is a wonderful time to get outdoors and experience all that Vermont and our state parks have to offer!

See you out there!   


Craig Whipple

Director, Vermont State Parks

Outdoor Observer: 
Scary Noises in the Night
by Rebecca Phelps, Education Coordinator

Recently I was sleepily wandering around my yard with my little dog at bedtime.  She sniffed car tires, her favorite patch of grass and some rocks while I wandered around near her.  Normally this whole bedtime routine takes about fifteen minutes.  Not that night.  Suddenly this very loud and long wailing sound echoed across the yard.  The source was very close by on a bank on the other side of the driveway.  My dog and I both hightailed it to the front door as quickly as possible.  Normally I need to cajole that dog into coming back into the house, but not that night, she heeled like a well-trained pet.  Ever since then I have been trying to figure out what made that noise and also drum up the courage to take the dog out after dark again. 


Think of the last time you were snuggled in your tent, zipped up in your sleeping bag snoozing away only to be abruptly awakened by animals scurrying around your campsite.  Your brain instantly starts to try and identify the source of the noise.  It seems too loud to be a mouse; it seems too loud to be a raccoon.  No matter what, it always sounds like a huge animal.  In the dark, your brain always thinks the worst because you cannot see anything, especially through the wall of your tent.  Any animal scurrying around your campsite makes much more noise than expected based on their size.


There have been black bears around my neighborhood, but the first thing that came to my mind when I heard the noise that night was a catamount!  There have been no documented sightings of catamounts in Vermont for some time, so that is not at all likely.  I am a trained naturalist and that is where my mind went even though it defies all logic.  There is just something fundamentally scary about hearing a weird noise in the dark.  


Have you ever had mice nibble their way into your bag of trail mix stashed for the night in the leanto, or had a raccoon chew on your water bottle because it was the only thing left out overnight on the picnic table?  Both these things have happened to me in state parks, and on both occasions I sat in my tent pondering what was going on with my heart racing.  During the raccoon incident I got up the nerve to run out of my tent and chase it away and save my water bottle, but the mice pooped in my gorp.      


Nocturnal animals are active at night and they are going to search for the easiest food sources they can find.  Food left out on your campsite is like a buffet for them.  Make sure you pack things away safely so you do not end up awake at midnight wondering what on earth is making all that noise at your campsite.


It turns out that my mystery noisemaker was a fisher (Martes pennanti).  I discovered this by waiting and watching for it in the forest.  This particular fisher has been wandering around the housing development where I live looking for things to eat.  Fishers are wonderful predators that will eat whatever they find including mice, squirrels, rabbits, birds and even porcupines.  I do not think that there is much that will scare my dog, so I am not surprised to learn that the noise we heard that night was from such an excellent

forest predator.  Have fun camping this fall in the state parks and pay attention to what you hear from those nocturnal animals.  Oh yeah, and please put your food away.  
Fall Into Vermont: 
Scenic Drives & Hikes in Vermont State Parks 
Route 232 in the Groton State Forest by Norm & Sharon Rabtoy

Vermont has become a Mecca for fall leap peeping. What is leaf peeping you might
ask yourself? Leaf peeping is an informal term, used to describe people who travel to view and photograph in areas where foliage change colors. The colors have already begun but the most stunning colors arrive in late September through early October and in my opinion the peak is always around Columbus Day weekend. Whether you are a native Vermonter or visiting from out of state the colors are always stunning and everyone goes for a drive at some point to admire their beauty.
View from Big Deer by
Debbie Thomas
Viewing the beautiful fall colors from a mountain summit is a fantastic way to view the foliage. Below you will find some of our favorites, with links to trail maps and guides:

Here in Vermont State Parks we have an abundant number of areas of land that are just beautiful. And depending where you are in the state there are several scenic drives so you can take it all in. and remember foliage peaks from the north to the south.

 More links: Scenic Byways, Foliage Forecaster, Latest Foliage Report
Vermont State Parks are always "Open" for you
27 of our State Parks are still open right now through Columbus Day, October 8th and 5 of those parks are open until October 14th. There are still places to hike, bike, boat and camp. For a complete list click here

One of the best hidden gems still open is Camp Plymouth. They have made a great comeback after Tropical Storm Irene last August. Looking at the park you would never tell a tropical storm turned the park upside down. We have some cottages available to rent at Camp Plymouth this season, so call quickly to reserve one today!
Looking to visit the Vermont State Parks after they have closed for the season? 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:

Vermont Fairy 
Have you ever needed something to perk up your day at work? We have received two Vermont Fairies in the mail. The latest one came with a hand written note. "I'm an artist who draws fairies to make people feel the spirit & vibes of things. This Vermont fairy will bring vibes of my thoughts & feelings & love for Vermont. I truly believe she'll work!" The artist is Courtney Benton of Michigan, she is an autistic artist who wants to bring joy into people's lives. Thank you Courtney for sending us this fairy! Learn more about Courtney.
cooking at camp
Let's Go Camping!
Learn from the experts at this free how-to clinic 
Love the Vermont State Parks and day trips but not quite sure about camping? Or are you looking for some new tips to improve your camping experience?

Come to a free clinic:

"Learn S'more About Camping"
 Saturday, September 22
11:00 AM - 4:00 PM at  

Experts from Eastern Mountain Sports & Vermont State Parks will teach you about camping gear, how to set up a campsite from simple to swanky, camp cooking and more!  
This event takes place rain or shine and no pre-registration is required. Park entry is free for clinic participants. Stay for a little while, or make a day of it! 
Check out the schedule:

11 AM Camping Gear 
PM Setting Up Camp
1 PM Kids Activities
2 PM Camp Cooking
3 P
M S'mores and Q & A


You'll also receive gear checklists and coupons to take home. Learn about camping this fall and make your reservations for next summer and plan your getaway.

Our Park of the Year awards have been announced. These teams were selected for their excellent customer service, superb park maintenance and working together to make our visitors' experiences exceptional. Hopefully you'll get a chance to visit these parks to see for yourself! The winners are: 

Northwest: Kill Kare

Northeast: Elmore

Southwest: Branbury
Southeast: Quechee

2013 Reservations  


We are now taking reservations for the 2013 camping season. Here is what you need to know:   


- Find a park using our Park finder on the website (top right hand corner)  


- Use the interactive map in each park to find the location you would like.  


- Make a reservation on-line or call the call center for more advice and to reserve.

 Coolidge Leanto

See you in 2013! 

Sept. 12 - Oct. 17
9:00 am - 10:00 am 
Tai Chi at Mt. Philo
$75 for six weeks
All proceeds go to Vermont Food Bank

Sunday, Sept. 22
11:00 am - 3:00 pm
Learn S'more About Camping
at Mt. Philo. Learn from the experts about camping gear, how to set up a campsite, camp cooking, activities for kids and more! No pre-registration required.

Saturday, Sept. 29
West River White Water Release at Jamaica. Watch canoeists and kayakers from all over New England ride the whitewater of the West River. Great viewing from the West River Rail Trail.

Saturday, Oct. 13
alloween Celebrations
at Quechee



We want to give a big shout out of thanks to Matt Parsons for his opening and  closing photos of Kettle Pond State Park  and Seyon Lodge State Park.  


He was born and raised in Northwestern Vermont. He was fortunate at a very young age to see many of Vermont's splendors; most of which are found in our State Parks. Most of his  favorite childhood memories are of his visits to Vermont's State Parks.


These visits have given him a love and appreciation for our State and it's natural resources that Matt can't seem to shake.

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