Friday, July 17, 2015

Accessibility in the Vermont State Parks

Accessible Lean-to at Jamaica State Park
The Vermont State Parks have been taking 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 current projects is taking place at Waterbury Center State Park, where we are linking the parking area, swimming beach, and picnicking areas with ADA accessible paths!

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.

For Lovers of the Outdoors:
Stowe Recreation Path
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.

Jamaica State Park – *ask for Briar lean-to*
Similar to the Stowe Recreation path, Jamaica State Park provides access to the West River Trail, a 16 mile long universally accessible converted rail bed with a packed gravel and (in some areas) packed sand surface. This trail also provides access to Cobb Brook, one of the Vermont State Park's featured nature relaxation spots!

For Anglers and Adventurers:
Shorefishing Platform at Kent Pond
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.

Scenic Gondola at Killington
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:
Molly Stark State Park– *ask for Cherry lean-to (accessible picnic pavilion as well)*
Located along the Molly Stark Trail Scenic Byway, our state park is on the main east-west route in Southern Vermont that connects Brattleboro, Wilmington, and Bennington, which provides anyone interested in history or the arts some great opportunities to explore each of those towns. Bennington in particular is home to numerous museums and historic sites, and Wilmington's Memorial Hall Center for the Arts hosts movie screenings, television festivals, and live music which is sure to satisfy anyone looking for a bit of culture!

Quechee State Park – *ask for Hemlock lean-to*
Falcon Demonstration at Vermont Institute of Natural Science
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.

Mt. Philo
For a Little of Everything: 
Little River State Park - *Ask for tent sites 44 or 80, or Spruce lean-to*
If you're not sure what kinds of activities you're looking for, or want access to everything from woods to nightlife, Little River State Park in Waterbury is probably your best bet. Its proximity to Burlington (40 minute drive) gives it access to everything the city and surrounding area has to offer: bike paths, recreational trails, and even an adaptive sports complex that offers pick-up games. If you're looking to stick closer to the campground, the Stowe Recreational Path (mentioned above) is a half hour away as well.

Depending on where you decide to camp, Vermont Adaptive Sports can schedule daily, weekend, or even weekly outings specific to your group, which range from climbing, paddling, hiking, biking, sailing, trips to museums, horseback riding and more. Contact if you're looking for a grand, planned adventure, or check out Inclusive Vermont, a part of that has a myriad of resources for planning a getaway tailored to your needs.

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 with your summer plans, and if you have any questions don't hesitate to contact us at (888) 409-7579.

See you out there!

By Carlie Timbie
Vermont State Parks

Mrs. Vermont 2015 Teams Up with Vermont State Parks

We go together like pageantry and parks! Dorilee LeBlanc, AKA Mrs. Vermont 2015, is building her pageant platform around getting kids outside, active, and re-connected with nature, and we couldn't be happier to help.

"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."

This summer, Dorilee will be visiting several state parks to do activities with kids that will also count toward their Venture Vermont Outdoor Challenges. She already assisted us in the awarding of our first Random Acts of Camping certificate at Elmore State Park, and is gearing up for a grand tour of the parks on the following dates:

Friday, July 17th, 10am-1pm: Sand Bar State Park for Sandcastles and Creatures
Sunday, July 26th, 11am-1pm: Waterbury Center State Park for a Nature Trail Scavenger Hunt
Saturday, August 1st, 10am-noon: Mt. Philo State Park for a Summit Hike
Sunday, August 9th, 11am-1pm: Kingsland Bay State Park for Lawn Games and/or Water Fun
Saturday, August 15th, 11am: Little Loop Trail Hike from Groton Nature Center
Saturday, August 15th, 5:30pm: Picnic Dinner on Owl's Head (meet at Groton Nature Center)

Don't forget to bring your Venture Vermont Score Sheets to these events to take advantage of the points! We can't wait to see you out there getting active with Mrs. Vermont and the Vermont State Parks.

by Carlie Timbie
Vermont State Parks

Thursday, July 16, 2015

"Of Land and Local" Brings Artists to Several Vermont State Parks

By Rebecca Shwarz
Burlington City Arts (BCA), in conjunction with Vermont State Parks, Shelburne Farms and Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, are pleased to announce Of Land & Local 2015, the 3rd annual statewide exploration of contemporary art. Of Land & Local is an annual multidisciplinary, statewide project designed to initiate a dialogue about issues surrounding art and the environment. New this year is a partnership with Vermont State Parks, which allows artists to be in summer residencies in select parks through August, as well as at Shelburne Farms and Marsh Billings.

Artists will be in residence at these locations making new work that responds directly to their specific location. This work created in the parks, along with additional work from 14 artists total, will be exhibited at Shelburne Farms from October 1 - 18, 2015, and at The BCA Center on Church Street in Burlington from September 25 - November 14, 2015. Click here for full details about the residencies and exhibitions.

By Alyssa Oxley
“We are so pleased to be part of the Of Land and Local partnership. State Parks have always been perfect places for nature inspired art of all kinds and this program allows us a chance to really showcase that value,” said Craig Whipple, Director of Vermont State Parks.

Artists will be in residence at Vermont State Park locations from late June through August. Many artists will be available to visit with while they are working. Visit the project website or the park office to determine whether an artist is currently on site. Project Curatorial Assistant Xian Chiang-Waren will be visiting the artists in residency and posting weekly updates from each location on the project blog.


By Wendy Copp
Button Bay State Park
Artist in residence:
Alyssa Oxley - from Vergennes, VT - Kiln formed glass inspired by nature
Rebecca Schwarz - from Burlington, VT - Participatory, post-consumer plastic sculpture

Residency Schedule: Alyssa Oxley has been sketching on site during June and early July and will be constructing her kiln formed glass panels in her studio in Vergennes. Alyssa’s onsite schedule will be updated on the project website. 

Rebecca Schwarz will be conducting two open studio weekends at the Nature Center in August. Please join Rebecca on August 7-9, and August 14-16. Visitors will have the opportunity to participate in the creation of Rebecca’s sculpture that embodies visions and revisions of the land, and dreams, nightmares and questions of the Earth. The materials come from discarded things we have on hand collectively and individually: plastics, trash, packaging, and other discarded and found materials.

Kingsland Bay State Park
Artist in residence: Alyssa Oxley
Alyssa Oxley has been sketching on site during June and early July and will be constructing her kiln formed glass panels in her studio in Vergennes. Alyssa’s onsite schedule will be updated on the project website.

By Elizabeth Nelson
Grand Isle State Park
Artist in residence: Riki Moss - from Grand Isle, VT - Imaginative mixed media creatures with an environmental focus

Residency Schedule: Riki Moss will be working at the Nature Center at Grand Isle State Park from 10am – 2pm on Sundays and Mondays, July 12 through August 17.

Elmore State Park
Artist in residence: Elizabeth Nelson - from West Glover, VT - Plein air painting in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom

Residency Schedule: Elizabeth Nelson will paint outdoors at Elmore State Park or in the Nature Center at the Park once a week during the months of July and August. As her residency is weather dependent, we will update her schedule weekly on the project website.

By Lynn Sullivan
Groton Nature Center
Artist in residence: Lynn Sullivan - from Adamant, VT - A study of language in juxtaposition with the natural world

Residency Schedule: Lynn Sullivan will install her work in the landscape at Groton Nature Center during early August. We will post the installation dates and artwork locations on the project website once they have been determined.

Shelburne Farms
Artist in residence: Wendy Copp, Angelo Arnold, and Susan Raber Bray - from Burlington & Charlotte, VT - Functional forms constructed from grape vines

Residency Schedule: Wendy Copp and Susan Raber Bray will continue their project at Shelburne Farms mid- August from 9:00 am -1:00 pm Monday through Friday. The specific schedule for August will be on the project website once determined. Their first finished sculpture is currently visible, situated on a tree covered knoll by the Farm Road and walking path and can be viewed when heading west toward the lake.

By Lyal Michel
Marsh Billings Rockefeller National Historical Park
Artist in residence: Lyal Michel - from Tunbridge, VT - Contemporary narrative paintings in dialogue with the Marsh Billings Rockefeller collection

Residency Schedule: Lyal Michel will be in residence at the Marsh Billings Rockefeller National Historical Park from August 15th to September 15th. Lyal’s painting studio will be based in the rehabilitated Rockefeller Horse Shed and he plans to paint plein air within the park grounds as well. Lyal will set up an art related activity for the public at The Marsh Billings Community Day, taking place on August 22nd, 2015.


Stella Marrs from Burlington, VT

A performative exploration of feminism, the environment, and community

Olga Koumoundouros from Los Angeles, CA
A Coast to Coast examination of class and labor within a precarious economy

Jeroen Jongeleen from Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Pushing the human body to its limits, while considering its impact on our surroundings

Kaylynn Sullivan TwoTrees from Hinesburg, VT
An installation drawing attention to Vermont’s often marginalized past

Jim Westphalen from Shelburne, VT
Capturing the decay of the built landscape in rural America

BCA Contact: Eric Ford 802-865-5355 or
Vermont State Parks contact: Rochelle Skinner 802-522-0841 or

By Jeroen Jongeleen
Of Land & Local 2015 is sponsored by Seven Days and the Vermont Department of Tourism, and produced in conjunction with Vermont State Parks, Shelburne Farms and Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park. Of Land & Local is part of Vermont Arts 2015, a project of the Vermont Arts Council, and is funded in part by a grant from the Vermont Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Farrell Distributing, Harpoon Brewery, Fluid Bar Service, Aqua Vitea and Bluebird Tavern are proud sponsors of BCA Center exhibitions and events. Of Land and Local 2015 is an important part of Burlington City Arts, celebrating over 30 years of supporting the arts, which is dedicated to the promotion of excellence, experimentation, and education in all forms of contemporary art. For more information about gallery exhibitions, special events, classes and workshops, please call 802.865.7166 or visit BURLINGTONCITYARTS.ORG.

Friday, June 26, 2015

ECHO Center, Smokey Bear, and Woodsy Owl Promotion!

This year, the Vermont State Parks are teaming up with ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center to run a great promotion that entitles overnight campers to use their receipt in exchange for $4 admission to the ECHO Leahy Center for a group of up to four people! ECHO members are also eligible for free day-use parks passes to any of our awesome state parks, and the promotion runs until September 13. 

ECHO is currently featuring an awesome exhibit called “Home Sweet Home” with Smokey Bear, Woodsy Owl, and other furry critters to teach kids how to care for our planet, it’s natural resources, and about what is important to know when you head out into the woods. Kids have a chance to explore a Ranger Station, build bird houses, learn about native plants, and even get a mini forestry lesson.

In the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” Rain Garden, children learn to reclaim water and help a pretend raindrop find its way from shed roof to rain barrel, then to feed flowers and vegetables to help them grow. “Would You Believe it Come From a Tree” offers a new perspective on wood products and demonstrates growth cycles. There’s even a “Find It In the Forest Trail,” which encourages coordination with a balance beam, tipsy bridge, hollow stump and rock climbing wall for kids to explore.

A campsite helps young adventurers understand fire safety with sing-alongs, tent shadow puppets, and the fire lookout tower, which gives everyone an inside look at forests, reforestation, and how wildfires affect the woods.

Every other Friday from 10 a.m. until noon, the Burlington Fire Department will help Smokey work to prevent fires by bringing different fire trucks and equipment to the exhibit! Check out all their cool gear, and get safety tips from the pros.

We’re so excited to be in ca-hoots with Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl, so please take advantage of this great promotion and check out the Home Sweet Home exhibit at the ECHO Leahy Center! 

by Carlie Timbie
Vermont State Parks

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

"Reel Fun" Fishing Program is Making a Splash

Vermont State Parks and the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department are teaming up this season with an exciting new program that will encourage park visitors to take advantage of the diverse, easily accessible and family-friendly fishing opportunities that exist in most Vermont State Parks. 

"We're thrilled to partner with Vermont Fish & Wildlife to help make fishing more accessible to anglers at Vermont State Parks," said Craig Whipple, Director of State Parks. "There's a strong history of recreational angling at our state parks and we want to continue to bolster that tradition through the 'Reel Fun' program. Whether you want to fish from shore or take out one of our canoes, kayaks or paddleboats, we hope that you will make fishing at a state park a must-do activity this summer."

In addition to hosting "Let's Go Fishing" clinics with trained instructors, 10 state parks will now be providing fishing equipment to visitors on a loaner basis.  Included in the equipment will be rods, reels, fishing line and an assortment of lures or baits that can be signed out by park visitors in order to help provide instant access to the sport of fishing. A guide will also be available that includes information about the waterbody, a lake or river map, a list of fish species present, fishing tips, and techniques applicable to each waterway, as well as information about obtaining a Vermont fishing license.

The following state parks will be participating in the "Reel Fun" initiative in 2015: Grand Isle State Park on Lake Champlain, Lake Carmi State ParkStillwater State Park on Groton Lake, Branbury State Park on Lake Dunmore, Silver Lake State ParkWilgus State Park on the Connecticut River, Half Moon State Park on Half Moon Pond, Lake St. Catherine State ParkWoodford State Park on Adams Reservoir, and Brighton State Park on Spectacle Pond.
"From my personal experience camping and fishing with my family, I can attest that Vermont's state parks and fishing are a natural combination," said Eric Palmer, director of fisheries with Vermont Fish & Wildlife. "The 'Reel Fun' program will help to make fishing in our state parks an easy option to anyone who might want to try it out." 

The program will include a "Reel Fun VT" photo contest where visitors can submit photos of themselves fishing at state parks to either Vermont State Parks or Vermont Fish & Wildlife.  At the end of the summer, three winners will be chosen. The first place winner will receive two starter fishing kits as well as a weekend of free camping in a Vermont State Park.  The second place winner will receive one starter fishing kit and a 2016 season vehicle pass for Vermont State Parks.  The third place winner will also receive a starter fishing kit and a punch card good for 10 visits to any Vermont State Park!

Visitors can submit "Reel Fun VT" photos via email to or, or can use #ReelFunVT to tag photos on Twitter. 

by Chris Adams
Vermont Fish & Wildlife

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

A Day in the Life of a Park Ranger: Map Turtle Edition

by Lisa Liotta

The Proud Mother
As a park ranger, you see some unusual things. Take last Friday, for was a beautiful, warm, sunny day at Niquette Bay State Park in Colchester. The sun was low in the afternoon sky and the sand on our south-facing Lake Sand Beach radiated warmth after baking all day under the sun’s rays. I didn’t see her right away, but, as I neared the prime spot on the beach, there she was…a lone park visitor, basking in the warm sun, with her toes buried in the sand. As I approached, I realized…..she was laying eggs!  

 This wasn’t just any park visitor, it was a Northern Map Turtle.  Map Turtles aren’t endangered in our state, but they are a species of special concern, which means they are ones that we want to keep an eye on.  Map turtles are in a few lakes besides Lake Champlain, but Lake Champlain is the mother lode.

Map Turtles live in the bottom of rivers and lakes, where there are places to bask on fallen trees, and they highly prefer unshaded sites with sandy soil in which to nest. With the Park’s sandy beach adjacent to an undeveloped natural area of Malletts Bay, Niquette Bay State Park had just what this visitor was looking for. Lake Sand Beach natural communities are also uncommon in Vermont, with most of them having been developed as recreation areas or private homes. (Vermont’s largest remaining Lake Sand Beach, along with its most intact natural dune system, is protected at Alburg Dunes State Park.)
Quick Thinking by Lisa and Megan

Within 90 minutes of my encounter with this park visitor, she had completed her labor and was long gone. After laying eggs and covering the nest using her hind feet, a mother turtle's responsibilities are complete. Now, it was up to nature to take its course. Left undisturbed, the eggs would hatch in about 70 days, depending on the weather. The problem was, this female turtle chose the spot on the beach that was the busiest of all for all of the other park’s other visitors; dead-center and right next to a picnic table.

Although turtle nests can be quite inconspicuous, especially in sand after it’s been gently washed with rain, this one was poorly placed for survival. Quickly, Park Attendant Megan Kane and I constructed and placed a small cage and sign to protect the nest from disturbance.

Soon-to-be Turtle
Turtles choose their nest sites carefully, relying on 200 million years of finely honed instincts. Nests should only be moved in extreme circumstances by experienced and trained people. Fortunately, I was able to reach one of those people after 5pm on a Friday. Steve Parren is the Coordinator for the Wildlife Diversity Program of Vermont’s Fish and Wildlife Department. After describing the next location and the species of the turtle, Steve agreed that the nest’s best chance of survival was to relocate it from the busiest part of the beach to another section that was not frequented by people.

The following Wednesday, Steve came to the park to help. After removing the wire cage, he very carefully removed the sand a little at a time using a paintbrush so as not to break the eggs, uncovering sixteen eggs in total. Map turtles typically lay between six and twenty eggs, each one measuring approximately 1.25” long, in a cluster located 4-5” beneath the surface.

Park Attendant Megan Kane 
During early development, rotating the shell may impact the turtle’s development, so the eggs must be handled very carefully and placed in the new nest location with the same side facing up as they were in the original nest. Steve delicately laid the eggs on a bed of sand in a bucket, then carried them to a new location a little farther up the beach. The new location was the same environment as the original nest, but less developed as an active beach area where human park visitors don’t often venture. After placing the eggs with care in the new nest, with the same shell sides facing up just as they were in the original nest, we carefully covered the nest with sand, and wished the baby turtles well.

Random Acts of Camping Coming to Vermont State Parks This Summer!

MONTPELIER - Designed to share the joy of camping with Vermonters, the “Random Acts of Camping” program will be coming to a state park day use area near you. "Random Acts of Camping" rewards lucky park visitors with two free nights of tent, RV, lean-to, or cabin camping in any Vermont State Park campground. One winner will be chosen at random on nice weather weekends through August 3, beginning in Elmore State Park on June 27.

The program was developed as a way to increase statewide accessibility to camping and to foster a lifelong love of the outdoors. Vermont State Parks will be giving away the free park stays to day users at Elmore, Silver Lake, Sand Bar, Alburgh Dunes and Kingsland Bay state parks during busy weekends this summer. The winners will be chosen at random by park staff. Winners will also receive personal trip planning assistance from the Parks Sales & Service Manager.

"Camping with your family and friends is so much fun and the outdoors is so good for you. Our hope is that this program encourages a few more people to give camping a try," says Rochelle Skinner, Parks Sales & Service Manager.. 

Random Acts of Camping will kick off at Elmore State Park this weekend. Every Wednesday, if weekend weather is looking good, we’ll announce which park we’ll be at for the upcoming weekend on the Vermont State Parks’ website, Facebook and Twitter feeds..