Vermont State Parks e-Newsletter                                     September 2015

Greetings everyone!

Welcome to the latest edition of Vermont State Parks' e-newsletter. As we transition from our very busy summer season into the glorious Vermont autumn, I want to give a hearty "hats off" and thank you to the hundreds of passionate and dedicated people who work in your parks to make them the best they can be. From Park Rangers and Attendants to our interpreters and maintenance staff, we all work together to make sure you have a top notch experience. It's not always easy but it is always very rewarding work. Thank you all.

Although we have passed Labor Day weekend which is considered the "end of summer," it is hardly an end to anything in Vermont State Parks. Twenty four of our campgrounds are fully operational so you can have the kind of great camping adventure Rebecca writes about in her article below. And besides, state parks never really close. Many of us believe the best time to camp, hike and paddle in state parks is in the fall with cooler weather and fewer crowds. So, get outside now and find out for yourself!

See you out there!   

Craig Whipple
Director, Vermont State Parks
The Outdoor Observer - Advent of Autumn
By Rebecca Phelps

It's happening all around you. It's starting to feel a little cooler at night. The dew is heavier on the grass in the morning. You had to put on a long sleeve shirt today. You are serenaded by a symphony of crickets each evening. I just saw a rack of mums for sale at the florist. Fall is on the way.

Let's face it, we are all summer people. Ask anyone their favorite outdoor childhood memory. The answer will be something like: watching the Milky Way from the comfort of a sleeping bag, the cool feeling of water closing over your head as you plunge off the pier, the smell of summer rain after a drought; all summer memories. Even my brother, Luc, who claims to love winter first and foremost, secretly loves summer best. I've seen it in his eyes from the stern of his canoe floating on Spectacle Pond at Brighton State Park

Preserve those summer memories in the way you enjoy most-a collection of photographs, a scrap book, a journal of tidbits about your adventures, and then get excited about the advent of autumn by watching seasonal changes. The woods grow quieter as your favorite songbirds sing less and less. Breeding season is done for these migratory birds; their babies have fledged. There is no reason to sing anymore. Soon the early migrators will gather together to head south for the winter months. 

Moose spent the summer on our highest mountain peaks, or in the murkiest bogs, to stay cool at higher elevations or submerged in cool water. Now you will find them moving into the lowlands. The breeding season for moose, known as the rut, begins in mid-September. Moose tend to move around more during the rut, so you are more likely to see them. They can be aggressive however, so watch from a very safe, very far distance. Look for them while driving the back roads during visits to Ricker Pond, Half Moon, Gifford Woods, and Underhill State Parks this fall. 

The eggs that mama snapping turtle you saw lay at Silver Lake and Grand Isle State Park earlier this summer are hatching now, under the sand. Mama turtle laid 20-40 eggs and now little turtles are emerging. These baby turtles may stay right where they are for the winter, or they may dig their way out of the sand now and crawl to the nearest body of water. 
One of Vermont's greatest treasures is the symphony of fall foliage. Even in early autumn, some trees start to tinge vibrant reds and yellows. Stick around and watch these bright colors wash across the Vermont landscape. Spend a weekend at Wilgus State Park and gather orange maple leaves floating in the Connecticut River for your scrap book; or visit Woodford State Park and gape at the brilliant, bright hillsides all around you. 

One of the best changes we feel with the advent of autumn is the decline of biting insects. September and October are fantastic months to camp, no insect repellent needed. Hang out in the woods, sit by your campfire, sleep under the stars, watch for all the seasonal changes, and make lifelong autumn memories.
Of Land and Local Program Still Going Strong

As most of you know, the Vermont State Parks have been hosting artists in several parks this summer, all of whom have been working on various projects and teaching workshops.

We hope you've had the chance to see a few installations in the Of Land and Local program, but if you missed some or are such a fan that you want more, here are some highlights of the exhibition that will be at Shelburne Farms from October 1-18:
Lynn Sullivan - Multimedia artist

Lynn Sullivan's installation will be at Shelburne Farms along with the rest of the artists we had in residency. Her work "plays with language juxtaposed against the backdrop of the natural world," she explains.

Wendy Copp and Susan Raber Bray - Natural Media

Wendy Copp and Susan Raber Bray are at work on an installation that will stay at Shelburne for seasons to come. Using an invasive species of vine that grows on the property to weave sculptures, they have created an elaborate archway that will serve as an entrance to the installation on the knoll, which is located along the road that leads to the Coach Barn. Their plan is to create a pathway, perhaps with audio elements, that visitors can follow through the shady, wooded area. The pathway will end next to a fully functional, chair-inspired sculpture that looks in the direction of the lake. As one passing child said, "how did the beavers make that?"

The friends and artistic collaborators are also at work on other pieces made from bark and other natural materials found on site, which will be part of the indoor Of Land and Local exhibition at the Coach Barn.

Liz Nelson at Elmore State Park - Painting

Elizabeth Nelson painted nature scenes at Elmore State Park, which evolved over the course of the summer and shared a glimpse into her artistic process. 
Making the Vermont State Parks More Accessible to Everyone

The Vermont State Parks have taken strides to make our campgrounds and facilities more accessible to visitors with varying needs. Many of our pavilions and picnic areas are universally accessible and we're doing more every day to increase trail and water accessibility as well. One of our projects was celebrated during an event commemorating the 25th anniversary of the American's with Disabilities Act at Waterbury Center State Park, where we linked the parking area, swimming beach, and picnicking areas with ADA accessible paths!
Briar Lean-to at Jamaica State Park
Searching through our system to locate accessible campsites and activities can be challenging, so we've compiled a brief list to make it a little easier. One thing to keep in mind when looking through our interactive campground maps is that any site listed as "universally accessible" is within 150 feet of drinking water, toilet facilities and showers. The full version of this guide is available on our blog

For a bit of everything: 
Smugglers' Notch State Park - *ask for tent site #4 or Oak lean-to*
Smugglers' Notch is a great option for anyone looking a hike with lovely views as well as access to restaurants, lodges, and local businesses in Stowe,VT. Why is that? The Stowe Recreation Path is a 5.3 mile paved multi-use trail that criss-crosses the West Branch of the Little River. For more details check out their website. The town of Stowe also hosts the Smugglers' Notch Adaptive Programs, which are primarily for kids but do have some options for adults.
Stowe Recreation Path
For anglers and adventurers: 
Gifford Woods State Park - *ask for Alder lean-to, Moose cabin, Coyote Cabin, or Whitetail cabin*
Gifford Wood State Park is a great option if you're looking for a smaller, more secluded campground with some good fishing. Across the street is access to Kent Pond and the Kent Pond shorefishing platform, both great spots to relax and unwind with fish and family.
Kent Pond Fishing Platform
If you prefer a more exciting adventure, head over to the nearby Killington Adventure Center, where you'll find two scenic lift rides (the open-air Snowshed Express Quad and the K-1 Express Gondola), a Terra Maze, and motorized Utility Terrain Vehicle mountain tours that are all wheelchair accessible. Their Snowshed Pond is also accessible, with some sand and rock just at the water's edge. And as if that wasn't enough, their 4,800 ft alpine "Beast Mountain Coaster" will also be accessible, and opens in late July or early August!

For History and Arts Buffs: 
Quechee State Park *ask for Hemlock lean-to*
A long-time favorite park for sightseers and anglers, Quechee State Park has access to the Quechee Gorge Visitor Center and the gorge itself (wheelchair accessible from the bridge by the visitor center), Quechee Gorge Village for shopping and dining, and is only fifteen minutes away from the Vermont Institute of Natural Science and Nature Center, with tons of exhibits, activities, and live shows. There's a wildlife rehabilitation clinic in the nature center, live raptor shows, and accessible nature trails on the property.

Falcon Demonstration at the VINS Center
The Vermont State Parks constantly seek to make our parks more easily accessible to every current and prospective visitor who comes our way. Hopefully this mini-guide helps you in your adventure planning, and if you have any questions don't hesitate to contact us at (888) 409-7579.
2015 Park of the Year Awards!

Park of the Year awards were given at our annual meeting, and the regional winners are...

Wilgus State Park Ascutney, VT
Head Ranger: 
Eric Hanson

Branbury State Park
Brandon, VT
Head Ranger: 
Lesley Porter

Mrs. Vermont 2015 and the Vermont State Parks Get Kids "Unplugged"

We had a wonderful series of events hosted by Dorilee LeBlanc (AKA Mrs. Vermont 2015) in an effort to get kids unplugged and outside. She visited several parks throughout the summer and helped kids participate in activities that earned them points toward their Venture Vermont Outdoor Challenge medallions. 


"There are so many reasons why I love this challenge," says Dorilee. "It encourages folks to get outside and be active; it's free or super affordable; and it creates a bonding experience and goals to reach as a family."
REELFUN Week a Success - Still Looking for Photo Contest Submissions!

Our REELFUN Week in August had some awesome participation, with parks reporting frequent use of free loaner equipment including rods, reels, fishing line, lures, and information about waterbodies and fish. 


The Vermont State Parks are still looking for entries into the #ReelFunVT photo contest - submit your picture to our Facebook or Twitter pages, or email them to Fish and Wildlife for a chance to win free fishing gear and camping!  (You don't need to be using our equipment to enter the photo contest.)

 Muckross Youth Day Camp a Success

The inaugural summer of the Muckross Youth Day Camp was a success, as the camp served over one hundred Springfield, VT youth from grades 1 through 8. 

The camp is named after the estate of the late Edgar May. Called "Muckross," the property is slated to become the newest Vermont State Park once the property transfer becomes official; hopefully later this year. Edgar May, the first national assistant director of AmeriCorps' VISTA program 50 years ago, wanted his property to belong to the state with the promise that it be used to provide outdoor recreational and educational opportunities with an emphasis on Springfield youth and elders. Since his passing, his family continues to move his vision forward.

Terry Carroll, a native of western New York, is a VISTA volunteer serving with Vermont State Parks since last August. He has led the summer camp project from its inception, and is serving as de-facto camp director this summer.

"It has been a very rewarding experience," Carroll says. "Having the opportunity to see the program through has been a tremendous challenge, but it is great to see the results in action."
Featured Fall Parks
We have a lot of parks to choose from, even after Labor Day. Here is a list of a few parks that have always been great hits in the cooler months! 

Brighton State Park
Located in Island Pond, Vermont, Brighton is one of our more remote parks, which makes it all the better for leaf peeping. It's not uncommon to hear loons calling across the pond, and spot deer along the hiking trails. You can rent boats, hang out on the beach at Spectacle Pond, or just relax in any of our cabins, tent sites, or lean-tos. 

Coolidge State Park
Coolidge is a wonderful park for those who want a rustic experience complete with some of the best views in Vermont, straight from your lean-to. Nestled in Plymouth, the park also has some remote camping options and access to miles and miles of hiking trails both within the park and nearby Okemo and Aitken State Forests. If you're feeling lucky, you can even pan for gold in the Black River Valley!

Gifford Woods State Park
Gifford Woods has long been a favorite in the Vermont Park system for viewing fall foliage and for awesome hiking. Located at the base of Killington and Pico peaks, autumn will nearly swallow you up in beautiful colors. The nearby Killington Adventure Center offers visitors the opportunity to spice up their stay with an adrenaline-fueled high ropes course, or campers can relax on the shores of Kent Pond and see if the fish are biting. 

Ricker Pond State Park
If you're looking for an abundance of multi-use trails fit for biking, hiking, and horseback riding, look no further than Groton State Forest. Between the cottages, cabins, lean-tos and tent sites, Ricker Pond has something for everyone. As an added bonus, campers and day users receive free admission into the other Groton parks, including Boulder Beach, Kettle & Osmore Pond, and New Discovery

Woodford State Park
Located in Bennington, Vermont, Woodford State Park is the perfect place for those who take to the water - rowboats, canoes, and kayaks are available for rent, and the only scene prettier than fall foliage might just be its reflection in the Adams Reservoir! The park also borders the Green Mountain National Forest, which offers endless miles of hiking to those who prefer the woods. 

Foggy Morning by Ranger Jessica Walker
Parks Operating Past Labor Day

Labor Day might be upon us, but that's not the end of the Vermont State Parks season! Here's a list of parks you can enjoy through September and October: 

Fully Operational until October 12th

Fully Operational until October 18th
Vermont Parks Forever

Vermont Parks Forever - the new foundation for Vermont State Parks!

Keep an eye out for this dedicated group of park enthusiasts working to leverage private resources to make Vermont's state parks even more wonderful. Vermont Parks Forever works in close partnership with VSP staff to expand access to parks, increase educational opportunities, and welcome the next generation of park visitors. Stay informed and help spread the word about Vermont Parks Forever! Check out their Facebook page, twitter, and sign up for their quarterly e-newsletter at 

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2015 Park of the Year Awards!

New Discovery State Park
Marshfield, VT
Head Ranger:
Don O'Donnell

Sand Bar State Park
Milton, VT
Head Ranger:
Eric Weber

Thank you to all of our wonderful staff who make visiting the Vermont State Parks such a great experience throughout the season!
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Vermont State Parks
1 National Life Drive, Davis 2
Montpelier, VT 05620