52 Parks in 365 Days

The Molly Stark State Park fire tower
Every summer, people come from all over to visit Vermont State Parks. Return visitors are loyal to their favorite campsites and swimming spots and choose to come back year after year because of their connection to the park. Every park is different and offers an abundance of fun outdoor activities.

Last winter, after receiving Vermont State Park passes as gifts, Vermont couple Anne and Steve set a goal to visit every Vermont State Park within the year. There are 52 state parks in Vermont, spanning the length of the state, and visiting all of the parks would mean seeing many during the summer months as well as during the off season, which begins in October. The couple began the challenge in mid-January 2013 with some cross-country skiing at Little River State Park in Waterbury.

We asked Steve and Anne to give us some insight as to why they decided to embark on the state park challenge, how they did it, and to describe some of their favorite experiences in the parks.

VSP: What inspired you to start this project?
Steve and Anne:
 $25 State Park passes; it seemed like a good value, and it got us to thinking about just how many parks we could make it to…we figured the parks would be a great way for just the two of us to spend some time together away from work and home.

The entrance to Little River State Park
VSP: Which parks and experiences really stand out? 
Steve and Anne: a.
Waterbury Reservoir.  In spite of working in Waterbury for 7 years, and running on the trails along the west side of the reservoir, Steve had never been on the reservoir, so it was a really pleasant surprise to be out paddling on the reservoir late on a Sunday afternoon:  just a few other boats around, and only one campsite in use.

b. Lake Champlain – we paddled our kayaks as part of our visit at one of the parks (Knight Island) and there was no wind on the lake, the water surface while not perfectly flat, was mirror like and the reflections of the sky and the boats was really nice.  We haven’t been on Lake Champlain too many times, but we understand that we were able to experience some remarkably calm conditions.

VSP: Did you decide on an order of parks to visit based on season and activity?
Steve and Anne:
Initially we would visit some parks on our way to some other activity: Going to visit family in Massachusetts? Let’s stop at a park that is accessible from I91. Headed over to the ADKs for an ultra-marathon trail run?  Let’s stop at a couple parks on the western side of VT. Then we started clustering some of them:  There are a handful of State Parks in the Northeast Kingdom, so one day we went to in Crystal Lake (canoeing on the lake), Brighton (circumnavigate Spectacle Pond . . . using a Fish and Wildlife boat access point on the pond – stop at the Brighton beach and do a little walking around the campground) and padding on the Green River Reservoir. Then in September it dawned on us that we’d better visit all the island parks before winter sets in; we aren’t well equipped for paddling around a big lake in really cold weather, and we couldn’t count on the lake freezing over from the mainland to the island so we could walk out to them.  So in September we visited Knights Island, Woods Island, and Burton Island.”

Kayaking on Lake St. Catherine
VSP: Which park was your favorite to visit?
Steve and Anne:
Do you remember the lyrics to the Eagles’ song ‘The Last Resort?’  “…you call someplace paradise and kiss it good bye.”  Well, our favorite park(s) are partly our favorite due to there not being too many people there.  So we figure that other folks need to also get out to visit the parks and figure out which ones are their favorites.  Each park was interesting and it was easy to think that it would be fun to visit them again. 

VSP: Would you recommend the “state park challenge” to other people? 
Steve and Anne:
Why not?  It might be better to not limit yourself to doing them all in one year.  I’m sure if we didn’t have our time limit, we would have planned more camping trips as part of the park visits and spent more time at each of the parks.  Maybe someone else can raise the bar:  camp at each park (at least the ones that offer camping).

Thank you to Anne and Steve for sharing their story and photos with us! Is anyone else out there taking part in their own state park challenge? Let us know! 


  1. What a great idea! We love that Steve and Anne are challenging themselves to visit all of the VT state parks. Everyone should do that for every state park system!


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