Hey, What's In My Water? Swim Water Testing At Vermont State Parks

On a hot day, nothing feels as good as a swim. But before you jump in that pretty, pristine-seeming lake, do you ever wonder how clean it is? We all know that appearances can be deceiving, and that even the cleanest looking lake can harbor bacteria, algae, and other lurking nasties.
This is one reason people enjoy and appreciate visiting our swimming areas. Vermont State Parks tests swim water at managed areas weekly and have for over 25 years. “We do it to assure our visitors that we are keeping an eye on the water in which we recreate,” says Frank Spaulding, Parks Projects Coordinator who compiles the swim water testing results each week. Occasionally there are elevated readings and alerts are posted, but, as Spaulding points out, “consistently, over time, our water is great.”
Every week, 38 different managed swim areas at state park beaches are tested for e-coli., an indicator bacteria. E-coli may not cause sickness itself, [but] its’ presence could reflect the possible presence of …

5 Underrated State Parks to Visit

Coolidge State Park
Plymouth, VT 
Other mountain parks like Smugglers’ Notch get all the love, but Coolidge is an underrated gem, conveniently located off of Route 100, and not far from a string of beautiful lakes. It’s a rustic, retro location for those looking for a quite weekend in a lovely mountain setting. Sites are well-spaced out, giving privacy, and there are several very remote sites that can still be accessed by car. There are hiking trails in the park, and in the Coolidge State Forest, as well as the nearby Long Trail. When you want to go for a swim, hop in your car and drive 15 minutes to Camp Plymouth State Park on Echo Lake. Show your car tag, and get in for free.
Fort Dummer State Park Brattleboro, VT
If you’re in southern Vermont and looking for a base to explore the area, Fort Dummer is a good choice. It’s located just outside the town of Brattleboro, and close to other southern Vermont locations like Bennington, Wilmington and Dover. New Hampshire is also just across the …

Sunscreen Dispensers at State Parks Make It Easy to “Stay and Play Longer”

Summer in Vermont is in full swing, and people will be able to stay and play longer, safe under the sun – thanks to free sunscreen stations being installed in Vermont State Parks and several other recreational areas.

“We are always looking for ways to encourage people to spend time outdoors and enjoy everything Vermont has to offer,” said Craig Whipple, State Parks director for the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation. “We’ve had a great run of beautiful, sunny days, and using sunscreen is an important part of being able to safely enjoy outdoor activities,” Whipple said. “We want to make sure no one has to call it a day just because they ran out of sunscreen.” 
The sunscreen stations are a joint effort by the Vermont Department of Health, State Parks and the skin cancer education and prevention organization IMPACT Melanoma. The stations are intended to provide convenient access to SPF 30 sunscreen, but they also to serve as a reminder of how important it is to protect your skin …

Guest Blog: Camping at Emerald Lake, The Green Gem, by Matt Parsons

This guest blog is by Matt Parsons, longtime photography intern, writer and avid parks explorer. 
An Emerald is described in the Cambridge English Dictionary as a transparent, bright green, valuable stone that is often used in jewelry. Emerald Lake State Park is nestled in the setting of the Taconic mountain range and the Green Mountains of Vermont. The luscious green trees from the mountains high above are reflected in this 28-acre lake, hence the name Emerald Lake. Hidden on the heavily wooded ridge, are 37 lean-to and 66 campsites. Most of the sites are spacious and semi shaded. There is enough distance between the sites to be neighbors and far enough apart to be real good neighbors. Many families were enjoying the park when we visited. The paved loops through the sites made for excellent bike rides for young and old alike.
There is plenty to do if you choose to stay within the park. There is a small beach for swimming, a snack bar and boat rental facilities (canoes, kayaks, row and…

Vermont State Parks Announces First Time Happy Campers Program

Try out camping for free, gear included

Vermont State Parks is excited to launch the new First Time Happy Campers Program at five parks during the months of July and August. Created in partnership with the Outdoor Gear Exchange, this program provides free camping for new campers, whose names will be chosen at random when they register through

The program is designed to encourage families who haven’t camped before to give it a try. Participants will receive a free campsite, firewood, tents, camp stove, lantern and sleeping pads. If campers don’t have sleeping bags or don’t want to bring bedding from home, they can purchase sleeping bags online from the Outdoor Gear Exchange for a discounted rate of $34.95 for delivery to their home or pick up upon arrival at the park.
On Friday night, campers will be met by friendly park interpreters who will show them around and help set up their camp, providing camping tips and support throughout the week…

Adventure Time: 21 Day Trips To Take This Summer

Don't have camping reservations this summer? Not to worry. Here are 21 suggestions for park day trips that ought to last you all summer long. 
Hit the beach- take your pick! 36 parks have easy access to a body of water, and swim-water test results are posted here. Rent a canoe, kayak or SUP. Prices are listed on our website.Check out fishing gear for free from one of 17 participating parks with the Reel Fun program, and try casting a line.Look for loons: common spots for sightings are Brighton State Park, Green River Reservoir, and Boulder Beach on Lake Groton.Get a bit of learnin’ with your vacation at a nature program. Guided hikes and paddles, or nature crafts. Get a listing of park programs and events happening during your visit.Climb a fire tower at the following parks: Allis, Elmore or Molly Stark.Participate in the Venture Vermont Outdoor Challenge and win free park entry all season long!Go mountain biking one of the new trails at Little River State Park, or take the histor…

Stay the Weekend: Woodford State Park

If you had to guess what state park campground in Vermont has the highest elevation, most would probably nominate Smugglers’ Notch, located on a steep, narrow road near Mt. Mansfield, the tallest mountain in Vermont. But, this is not accurate. The park with the highest elevation is an unassuming spot called Woodford, located in extreme southern part of the state only a few miles from the Massachusetts border. The elevation (2,400 ft) is due to its’ location on a plateau in the southern Green Mountains, not far from the Appalachian Trail/ Long Trail. Spruce/ fir forest is more common here, again more reminiscent of the northern forest of the Northeast Kingdom than the hardwoods usually seen in southern Vermont. In addition to hiking, Woodford is also popular with boaters who want to explore the waters and wetlands of the Adams Reservoir. 

Here is a sample itinerary to help plan your trip.
Friday night: Check in & set up camp, dinner and relax
Saturday morning: Kayak or fish on the Ada…