Vermont State Parks e-newsletter                                       July 2016
Sand Bar State Park at Sunrise by 2016 photography intern Jesse Keck 

Hello Everyone!

Craig Whipple,
Director of State Parks 
Welcome to the mid-summer edition of Vermont State Parks' e-newsletter. It's always a pleasure for us to prepare these little communications for all you folks who love your parks as much as you do. Honestly, it can be a bit of an eye-opener for us, too, as we step back from our day-to-day operations, maintenance and management of the park system to reflect on the breadth and depth of all the parks have to offer and the incredible value it holds for our visitors. We are proud of the work we do. My hat goes off to all our staff who are busy making sure your summer-time visits are fun, relaxing and secure. It is fun and meaningful work but...there is a lot of it! 

So, enjoy your visit to Vermont State Parks and don't forget to thank the hardworking people that happily bring this service to you! See you out there!  

Craig Whipple
Director, Vermont State Parks

The Outdoor Observer
By: Rebecca Roy 
How to be Six Years Old Again 
Red Eft in Early Summer  

Think about your earliest, most vivid experience in nature. Perhaps it was the smell of pine needles in the sun when you were three; maybe it was the first time you jumped off the pier at Silver Lake State Park; or maybe you accidentally squishing a prickly caterpillar in the palm of your hand. Vivid, first hand encounters are what make the most important and most memorable experiences for people. It gets harder to notice the significance of these events as we grow into adults, but there are ways to encounter our familiar world in new and incredible ways. Summertime is the perfect season to practice being six years old again.

One technique is to take a closer look at the things around you. Have you ever purchased a new car and then suddenly noticed all the cars around you that are the same make and model as yours? Previously you did not really notice GMC Sierra pickup trucks, but after buying one you are seeing those trucks everywhere! The same technique of noticing things for the first time as they become interesting to you can be used to make new discoveries in nature.

You can try out this up-close observation method to look for salamanders in the forest during your next visit to your favorite state park. Spring conditions in the parks have been perfect for moisture-loving amphibians so they have been very active. You have probably seen or heard frogs in the weeds next to your choice swimming spot, and perhaps you have seen toads hopping around in the forest. Frogs, toads and salamanders are all amphibians-animals that lead two lives because they start out as tadpoles in the water and then they become adults that can live on land.

I wonder if you have noticed a small bright orange salamander walking along a trail beside you? Those salamanders are red efts-the juvenile form of a unique amphibian called the eastern newt. This salamander is special because it leads three lives instead of two.

If you look closely in the right places, you will be able to see at least two of these life stages. Eastern newts start out as tadpoles in water like other amphibians, then they change into the land-dwelling red eft stage, then they move back into the water for their adulthood. These hardy amphibians can live in lakes and ponds with fish, and can live up to fifteen years in the wild.

Early summer conditions are great for amphibians, so it is the perfect time to test your observational skills. Look for the bright orange red eft along any wooded trail or on the forest floor near your campsite after a rain shower. Watch for the brown colored adults resting on the bottom of your favorite pond near the shore, or swimming along the surface with their wide tails. Now that you know what to look for, you will be seeing these unique amphibians everywhere, just like you started seeing GMC Sierra pickup trucks all over the place after you purchased one. Hold one in your hand and you will remember what it was like to hold a salamander for the very first time.

Last Minute Camping 
Is your getaway van ready? 
Love camping and the feeling of being on vacation? Hate being limited to your one or two regularly scheduled camping trips per summer? So do we.. and who says you have to wait? 

Last minute camping can be a great way to take advantage of beautiful weather and summer vacations. Quite a few parks (including some of our busiest) are not far from populated areas, but still offer quiet and a chance to spend time outdoors. Long summer days make it easy to fit in an evening hike or paddle. Grab some to-go food after work and picnic at your site if you don't feel like cooking much at the park. Parks have bathrooms and shower facilities, and electric outlets in the bathrooms. And, many of the most popular parks that are fully booked on the weekend will still have spots open on weeknights.

Through the Trees at Little River 
by 2016 photography intern Olivia Wolfe

Below is a list of suggestions for parks close to larger towns:
Close to Burlington: Grand Isle, Mount PhiloButton Bay
Close to Waterbury/ Stowe: Little River, Smugglers' Notch 
Close to Manchester: Emerald Lake 
Close to Rutland: Gifford Woods, Bomoseen 
Close to Windsor/ Hanover NH: Mt Ascutney, Wilgus 
Close to Middlebury: Branbury
Close to Benningotn/ Brattleboro: Molly Stark, Woodford, Ft. Dummer

We will be posting regular updates of parks with weekday availability on our website.
Featured Article: Emerald Lake State Park
Written by Tara Schatz

Emerald Lake State Park is nestled in a deep valley between the Taconic Mountains to the West and the Green Mountains to the east. The two mountain ranges are only a few hundred yards apart here, and they rise up steeply on either side of the lake. Covering just 20 acres, Emerald Lake isn't big, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in beauty. It's clear green waters and sandy bottom attract swimmers, paddlers, sunbathers, and anglers throughout the summer.

My family and I aren't strangers to Emerald Lake's charms. We've picnicked on the shores and spent countless hours exploring in and out of the water. Last week we decided to dig a little deeper and explore the trails and campground of this beloved local park. We quickly learned that there's more to Emerald Lake than swimming. It's also a hiker's paradise, a haven for dog-lovers, and a perfect spot for family camping. We'd love to share some of our discoveries with you.

Camping at Emerald Lake State Park

There are more than 100 campsites perched on a wide ledge on the west side of Emerald Lake. While I wouldn't call any of the sites waterfront, you do catch enticing glimpses of the sparkling water far below the campground. The sites are wooded with beautiful giant hemlock trees, interspersed with a spattering of maple, oak, beech and cherries.

We chose site 19, at the end of the A loop. There are three sprawling campground loops, each with its own trail down to the lake. Loop A is closest to the swimming area and usually a bit more popular than the other two. On our visit, loop A was home to just three other camping families. Except for the chirping birds, and the distant sound the cars on route 7, the campground was blissfully quiet.

Tips for Camping at Emerald Lake State Park
Beware of cheeky chipmunks and squirrels. 
They're quite opportunistic and will happily eat any food you leave out.

Bring quarters for your shower. 
A hot, 5-minute shower will cost you $.25, which is a pretty good deal in the world of campground showers.

Be mindful of the steep banks. 
Half of all the campsites are perched on the edge of a steep, wooded embankment. If you're camping with small kids, ask for a site without a drop-off.

Be prepared for bugs. 
Like most campgrounds in the Green Mountains, mosquitoes can be a nuisance here throughout the summer. Black flies start biting in late May and are usually gone by the end of June. We also found a couple of ticks as we hiked the meadow and vista trails.

Our crew of adventurers consisted of two adults, three teenagers, and a frisky German Shepherd. Aside from the excessive amount of food we had packed to keep the kids happy, our camping set-up was relatively simple. We pitched the tents, hung the hammock, and headed down to the lake. The pup and I meandered through the campgrounds, choosing to hike down to the lake from the C loop. Dogs are welcome at Emerald Lake State Park, but they're not allowed on the beach or in the picnic areas. This suited us fine, and we set out to explore.
The Trails at Emerald Lake State Park

The meandering trails at Emerald Lake State Park were quiet when we visited-  unless of course, you want to count toads, newts, chipmunks, and songbirds. Over the course of our two-day visit, we explored every single trail on the map. We were surprised by the diversity of the trails, but not the beauty - we explored meadows bursting with wildflower blooms, cool ancient forests, and wetlands teeming with life. Here are our favorite Emerald Lake Trails and some highlights of each:

Lake Trail to Campground C

The Lake Trail hugs the shore of Emerald Lake. It's strewn with boulders and flanked by huge hemlock trees.Like a magical promenade,  there are secret swimming spots, ephermal wildflowers, and lots of photo opps. At the southern end of the lake, you can continue on the trail to the C loop in the campground. This trail meanders along a sunny wetland, where you're likely to see song birds, turtles, frogs, and beaver. When you arrive in the campground, you can walk the campground roads back to your site.

Vista Trail

For awesome views of the lake from high above, you can't beat Vista Trail. It's a moderate hike through beautiful, shady woodlands, with a good variety of ferns and spring wildflowers. The climb is steady heading up to the views, but the trail is very even and well-marked. The vista loop is .7 miles, and walking at a good clip with lots of photography breaks, it took me a half hour. Work up a sweat on the Vista Trail and then hit the lake for a swim before heading back to camp.

Meadow Trail

To hike the Meadow Trail, you can either start past the ranger station near the park entrance or on Lower Trail, which starts in campground loop A. I started on Lower Trail and gradually ascended through a mixed hardwood forest. Little red efts were making their way across the trail in droves and we had to be very careful where we put our feet. After walking along a level, wooded ridge for a while, the trail turns sharply and begins to descend through a series of meadows flanked by tall trees on every side. In June, when we visited, the meadows were teeming with birds, butterflies, and wildflowers. The North Dorset Cemetery is located toward the end of the trail. It's a tiny local graveyard with headstones crafted from local marble. The oldest headstone we found was dated 1811.

The best part about Emerald Lake State Park is that there's something for everyone. The sandy beach and shallow waters are perfect for frolicking kids. Families can rent paddle boats, canoes, and kayaks for paddling around the lake. Teens and more adventurous kids can search for the island rope swing for a little adrenaline rush. For me, the quiet trails, secret coves, and abundant wildlife were enough to keep me coming back again and again.

Tara is a local writer and photographer based in Bennington. She writes about her family's many adventures at

Local Bands Put on a Show at Vermont State Parks

Concerts a part of first annual Make Music Vermont Day 

Outside the Nature Center at Grand Isle State Park

The inaugural Make Music Vermont Day took place at venues all across the state on Tuesday, June 21st. This is a global event held every year on the summer solstice, featuring free musical events in public places. Five state parks across Vermont hosted free concerts: Silver Lake, Jamaica, Boulder Beach, Kingsland Bay, and Grand Isle. Over 15 bands participated. A big THANK YOU to all musicians, audience members, and photographers. 

Make Music Vermont Day was organized by Big Heavy Word, an independent locally based group promoting Vermont music and musicians. More information on Make Music Vermont Day can be found at their website. 
Playing in the Theater Building at Kingsland Bay State Park 
Parks Prescription Program Expands 
by Craig Whipple

For decades, scientists have been telling us that spending time outdoors, recreating and being active are good for our health. More recently a huge number of studies focusing on children have shown an alarming trend toward a more screen oriented, sedentary lifestyle for young people. All sorts of physical and emotional health problems for people of all ages can be directly attributed to this trend. Healthcare providers and outdoor recreation service organizations have been working hard to raise this alarm thinking of creative ways to draw attention to the message. There's a lot at stake.
One of things Vermont State Parks is doing is teaming up with the Vermont Governor's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports to encourage physicians across the state to issue "Park Prescriptions". Twelve thousand "Prescriptions" have been distributed to over 130 doctor's offices. Physicians, PA's and nurses can issue a prescription for any of their patients to get outdoors and the prescription serves as a free admission to a state park day area! Having a person's doctor make the suggestion to spend time outdoors carries a lot of weight, for sure. Everyone listens to their doctor, right?

Ways to Enjoy Time on the Water This Summer  
We all know the drill. When it gets hot, head towards the water! Here's a list of suggestions for ways to keep cool, and enjoy some of Vermont's beautiful lakes, rivers and ponds.

Catch a Fish
Lakes and rivers are prime spots for all kinds of fish. And, at 12 different parks, you can rent fishing gear through our REEL FUN program.

Rent a Kayak, Rowboat, Pedal Boat, or Canoe
There are lakes of all sizes in Vermont! Lake Carmi and Bomoseen are large, busy lakes in the summer months. In contrast, Emerald Lake is small and quiet place for paddling, restricted to non-motorized watercraft.
Demonstrating proper paddleboard technique 
What's up, SUP?
The stand-up paddleboard craze has been going on for a few years now. Waterbury Center State Park and Elmore State Park are great spots to try this out, if you haven't yet.

Skipping Stones
This activity is an art form, and summer is the perfect time to practice!

Take a selfie by a waterfall (but don't fall in)
Hike to Hamilton Falls by Jamaica State Park, or Cascade Falls, on the Weathersfield Trail at Mt. Ascutney State Park.

Falls of Lana near Branbury State Park

Ride the Island Runner to Burton Island State Park
Even if you aren't camping at Burton Island, you can still ride the ferry across Lake Champlain. Watching the boats in the lively marina can be quite a spectacle.

Fly- Fishing at Seyon Lodge
Fun fact: Noyes Pond at Seyon Lodge State Park is the ONLY public fly- fishing- only pond in the State of Vermont.

Bonus activity: Go Swimming
I know, "duh." Everyone has their own favorite beach spot, but in the spirit of adventure, set aside a day to try someplace new!

Check out our swimming page for more details and suggestions on places to go.

Silver Lake Swim
Cooling off at Silver Lake 
Random Acts of Camping returns to the parks! 
Random Acts of Camping kicked off at Vermont State Parks for 2016! We were at Camp Plymouth State Park the weekend of June 25th- congratulations to our first winner of the season, Eric! 

Random Acts of Camping is a giveaway where a visitor to a day use park wins 2 nights of free camping.

Newest Random Acts of Camping winners at Camp Plymouth State Park!

On Wednesdays, if the weather forecast looks good, we will announce the location of Random Acts of Camping on our website, Facebook  and Twitter, so stay tuned!

Fun activities going on at a park near you! 
Bomoseen Nature Program
Looking for something to do this summer for yourself or for your kids? Vermont State Parks offer a variety of events all summer long, both fun and educational. Outdoor summer concerts, hikes, crafts, and nature activities for kids are just some of the events offered. Here is a sample list of upcoming events:

7/8/16: Lipizzaner Stallions in Residence at Knight Point State Park: Weekend performances Friday and Saturday at 6 pm, Sunday at 4 pm. Though August 7th. 

The most recent events list is on our website. This list is updated as new events are scheduled, so check back regularly to see what's new! 
New State Parks Merchandise for sale!
Vermont State Parks apparel, including hats, t-shirts, and hoodies, is a wonderful and inexpensive way to enjoy the parks all season long. Our new item for this season is a trucker-style hat that comes in two colors, orange and slate gray, and green and yellow. The hat has a white mesh back. 

Trucker cap in green and yellow 

Vermont State Parks passes are also a great deal. Individual passes are $30 per person and are good for day-use at any Vermont State Park for the entire season. Punch cards also cost $30, and provide 10 day-use entries for an adult or child, and best of all, they never expire! Vehicle passes cost $90, are good for the entire 
season, and entitle the owner to unlimited day use for themselves and up to eight people in their vehicle. Additional vehicle passes, for vehicles registered to the same household, are available at a discounted rate of $50. 
2016 Vehicle Pass

Park passes and merchandise make great gifts for birthdays, holidays, or any outdoorsy person in your life. To order a pass or other item visit our website or call 1-888-409-7570. Many items can also be purchased directly at the parks. 

Venture Vermont Outdoor Challenge 2016 


The Venture Vermont Outdoor Challenge is underway for 2016. You still have time to play! The rules are simple- download a score sheet and complete fun outdoor activities to earn points. Once you reach 250 points, you win a coin that gives you free park entry all this year AND next. 


Happy Venturing! 


Download a score sheet here.

Thanks to our featured 2016 Photo Interns! 
Jesse Keck 
Olivia Wolfe

Jesse Keck is a Fine Art Landscape Photographer based in the Champlain Valley of Vermont. He was born in the Midwest, but has lived in New England for 15 years. More of Jesse's work can be seen at his website,
Olivia Wolf is a senior at the University of Vermont and is majoring in Environmental Studies with a focus on Sustainability and a double minor in Anthropology and Spanish. If not found outside working in the dirt or taking photos in the summer, Olivia can usually be found watching sitcoms, hanging out with family, friends and her dog and eating creemees. 

Quick Links 

Random Acts of Camping

Bomoseen State Park

Boulder Beach State Park

Branbury State Park

Burton Island State Park 

Button Bay State Park

Emerald Lake State Park 

Fort Dummer State Park 

Gifford Woods State Park

Grand Isle State Park

Jamaica State Park

Kingsland Bay State Park

Knight Point State Park

Lake Carmi State Park

Little River State Park

Mt. Ascutney State Park

Molly Stark State Park

Mount Philo State Park 

Sand Bar State Park

Seyon Lodge State Park 

Silver Lake State Park

Smugglers' Notch State Park

Waterbury Center State Park

Wilgus State Park

Woodford State Park

Parks Passes and Merchandise



Cabins & Cottages

Vermont State Parks Merchandise

REEL Fun Program 

Big Heavy World Foundation, Make Music VT  

VT State Parks Blog

VT State Parks Facebook page



General Info

Vermont Parks Forever 

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, follow their tweets, or sign up for their quarterly e-newsletter at
Like us on Facebook   Follow us on Twitter 
We greatly appreciate their support and yours!

Park sign in the town of Jamaica, Vermont 
This is the official newsletter of Vermont State Parks
Wishing you summer's best:  hot days, warm campfires, cool breezes and cold beer. 
-Vermont State Parks 

Vermont State Parks | 888-409-7579 |
 1 National Life Drive, Davis 2
 Montpelier, VT 05620