Early Season Options at Vermont State Parks

Summer is almost here.... right? Well, we hope so! Are you looking to get out into the parks and do some camping, or just get out for the day? We hear you, and so are we. Being outside this time of year can be unpredictable. Days are either surprisingly warm or or quite cool, and most nights are still distinctly chilly. On the plus side: good views when trees don't yet have all their leaves, many opportunities to spot spring wildflowers and birds- plus, fewer bugs than later in the season! All of our parks are open for day use year round, and a handful of parks open before Memorial Day. The rest are getting the grounds clean and ready for the season, so camping is not permitted until the official opening date.

 Here are some options for enjoying State Parks before Memorial Day:

View of Camel's Hump from Grand Isle 
Located on South Hero island, featuring 4,150 feet of Lake Champlain shoreline. Grand Isle is our most popular park measured by visitors. It's also the closest state park to Burlington with camping. Grand Isle offers boat rentals and boat launch, beach, nature center, playground, hiking trail, and a whole bunch of pretty scenery. There is also good access from Grand Isle to the rest of the Champlain Islands, Burlington, New York, and Canada to the north.

A lot of people in northern and central VT forget about this southern Vermont park, which is a shame. Highlights: fishing, swimming at the Salmon Hole, walking or biking on the West River multi-use trail, access to Hamilton Falls Natural Area, and some very sweet campsites right on the West River. There is also a picnic area and a playground. Every September, whitewater paddlers come from all over for the white water release from the Ball Mountain Dam

Trail by the river at Wilgus State Park
Our first state park to open! Located right on the Connecticut River and adjacent to Mount Ascutney, Wilgus is a small park but has a very devoted following. It is popular with fishermen (and women) and paddlers, since it is actually the only developed park on the Connecticut River in the state. Wilgus also has 4 cabins overlooking the river, and a group camping area. The park is also popular because it's a practical base for weekend trips: nearby Mount Ascutnety, which you can hike or drive up, and the pretty town of Windsor VT, which has a sculpture garden, brewery, distillery, and Old Constitution House State Historic Site, and Windsor Covered Bridge.

Niquette Bay State Park: Colcester, Vermont (Open May 7th)

View from Niquette Bay trail
Ok, so there's no camping at Niquette Bay, but we had to include it on the list anyway. The park is located right on Lake Champlain, and is a great place to go for a spring walk in the woods or by the bay. Niquette Bay is an old name for the bay area that is part of what we now call Malletts Bay. Inland, there are three interconnected hiking loops that pass a brook, ravines, limestone ledges, and in early spring, an abundance of wildflowers! Niquette Bay also has 4700 ft of rocky and sandy shoreline, and two beach areas for swimming.

Opening on May 20th:


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