Camping in the picturesque state of Vermont for a camping trip means seeing magnificent fall foliage, enjoying breathtaking views, and numerous outdoor activities. As always, SunWaterDirt has everything you need to know for an amazing Vermont camping adventure, from what to pack to where to go.
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Packing Essentials for Camping in Vermont
As with any camping trip, there are a few major, essential items you’ll need for a safe, successful excursion. The following general guideline is a good start, but remember you may need activity-specific equipment as well.
Shelter and Sleeping Gear
- Tent: Choose one that fits your needs based on size, weight, and weather resistance.
- Sleeping bag: Make sure your sleeping bag is rated for all of Vermont’s beautiful seasons, from humid summers to very cold winters.
- Sleeping pad or air mattress: This will make sleeping on uneven ground more comfortable.
- Tarp or footprint: Place under your tent to protect it from moisture and sharp objects.
- Rain gear: A waterproof jacket and pants are essential as unexpected showers can occur anytime in Vermont’s unpredictable climate.
- Layers: Pack lightweight layers such as long-sleeve shirts, fleece jackets, and thermal leggings that can be easily added or removed depending on how the temperature fluctuations throughout the day.
When packing for your camping trip, keep in mind the specific location you’ll be visiting. For planning central Vermont, you may want to bring warmer clothing since temperatures tend to be cooler in the mountainous regions. If you’re camping in the southern part of the state, however, you may need lighter clothing as temperatures can be milder.
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Vermont Camping Options
From state parks to private campgrounds, there’s something for everyone in Vermont. Whether you’re looking for a remote site in the Green Mountains or a base camp near Lake Champlain, Vermont has plenty of camping options to choose from. Many campgrounds are open year-round, so you can enjoy the beauty of Vermont in any season.
Here are some of the best camping options in Vermont:
Vermont’s state parks offer a range of camping options, from tent sites to RV sites. Many parks also have hiking trails, nature programs, and boat rentals. Some of the most popular state parks for camping include:
- Green Mountain National Forest
- Emerald Lake State Park
- Grand Isle State Park
- Woodford State Park
- Quechee Gorge
- North Beach Campground
- Discovery State Park
Private campgrounds in Vermont offer a range of amenities, including dump stations, firewood, and even Wi-Fi. Some of the best private campgrounds in Vermont include:
- West River Camperama
- Mountain Top Inn & Resort
- Green Mountain Family Campground
- Lazy Lions Campground
Regardless of the kind of camping journey you’re organizing in Vermont, it’s imperative to make certain that you have all the essential items and tools. With that in mind, let us now look at some of the top camping spots Vermont has to offer.
Best Campsites in Vermont
Vermont is a nature lover’s paradise, with its stunning fall foliage, gorgeous scenery, and numerous outdoor activities. Whether you prefer tent camping or RV sites, southern Vermont or northern Vermont, free camping, or state parks – you’ll find what you’re looking for in the beautiful Green Mountain State.
We’ve listed some of the best campsites this beautiful state has to offer below.
Green Mountain National Forest
Green Mountain National Forest offers both developed campgrounds and dispersed (free) camping throughout both central and southern Vermont. With over 400 miles of hiking trails, this national forest is perfect for those seeking solitude amidst breathtaking landscapes Some of the trails in this park are part of the Appalachian Trail and Long Trail and are maintained by the Green Mountain Club.
North Beach Campground
If you’re looking for a base camp near Lake Champlain, with easy access for boating and fishing, as well as mountain bike trails, look no further than North Beach Campground in Burlington. This popular campground features RV sites with hookups as well as tent sites on sandy beaches overlooking the lake. There are even boat rentals available on-site.
Grand Isle State Park
Nestled on the picturesque Lake Champlain islands lies Grand Isle State Park. The park has 117 tent and RV sites, including some with lean-tos. There are plenty of amenities, including boat launch facilities, nature programs led by park rangers, and access to the island’s hiking trails.
Woodford State Park
Woodford State Park is located in southern Vermont and uniquely situated on a mountain plateau surrounded by lush forests. Its higher elevation means cooler temperatures, making it an ideal summer camping getaway. There are 103 campsites, including remote sites near Adams Reservoir, popular with kayakers.
Quechee Gorge – Dewey’s Pond Campground
Quechee Gorge, also known as “Vermont’s Little Grand Canyon,” is a must-visit destination for campers seeking beautiful views of the state’s deepest gorge. Dewey’s Pond Campground is located in Quechee State Park and has both RV and tent sites. Nearby access to hiking trails let you venture directly into the gorge itself and explore the area.
Tips for Choosing Your Perfect Camping Spot:
- Consider your preferred type of camping. Where you camp will depend a lot on whether you’re RV or tent camping, and whether you want to explore northern versus southern Vermont.
- Explore dispersed camping opportunities. If you’re looking for free camping options or more secluded spots away from crowds, check out sites in the Green Mountain National Forest. For remote sites, Woodford State Park is a good option.
- Make reservations well in advance. Popular campgrounds such as North Beach Campground and Grand Isle State Park fill up quickly during the peak seasons of summer
Hiking Trails in Vermont
Vermont has hiking trails for every hiker’s skill level and interests. Trails run everywhere, from the awe-inspiring autumn foliage of the Green Mountains to picturesque Lake Champlain. We’ve hand-selected some of the best trails Vermont has to offer and listed them below.
The Long Trail
The Long Trail is Vermont’s most famous hiking route, spanning 272 miles from the Massachusetts border to Canada. Maintained by the Green Mountain Club, it traverses through some of Vermont’s most breathtaking landscapes including lush forests, mountain plateaus, and pristine lakes.
Shorter day hikes are also available on this trail while other sections can be tackled as part of a multi-day backpacking adventure.
The Appalachian Trail (AT), one of America’s most renowned long-distance hiking paths, passes through southern Vermont for approximately 150 miles. While exploring the Vermont section of the AT, you’ll travel through diverse terrains from dense woodlands to open meadows with spectacular views over valleys below.
Quechee Gorge State Park Trails
Quechee Gorge State Park has several picturesque trails perfect for families or beginner hikers. These easy nature strolls will allow travelers to enjoy panoramic vistas over Quechee Gorge, known as “Vermont’s Little Grand Canyon.” The park also offers a variety of nature programs and interpretive walks, making it an excellent place for those who want to learn more about Vermont’s unique ecosystem.
Green Mountain National Forest Trails
For hikers seeking solitude in the heart of Vermont’s wilderness, Green Mountain National Forest offers numerous remote sites with pristine trails ranging from short day hikes to challenging multi-day backpacking trips. Some popular options include Stratton Pond Trail, Lye Brook Falls Trail, and Mount Abraham via Long Trail. All provide unforgettable experiences amidst lush forests and serene landscapes.
Northern Vermont Hiking Gems
- Burlington Area: Explore the city’s natural beauty through various urban hiking trails such as Red Rocks Park or Centennial Woods Natural Area.
- Mt. Mansfield: As the highest peak in Vermont, Mt. Mansfield offers several trail options leading up to its summit. You’ll enjoy panoramic views over Lake Champlain and surrounding mountain ranges.
- Camel’s Hump State Park: Home to one of Vermont’s most iconic peaks, Camel’s Hump, this state park boasts well-maintained trails for both novice hikers and experienced mountaineers alike.
No matter your skill level or interests, there is a perfect hiking trail waiting for you in beautiful Vermont. So lace up your boots, grab your backpacks, and hit these amazing paths that showcase some of New England’s finest outdoor wonders.
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Fishing Spots in Vermont
Vermont is a paradise for anglers. The state is dotted with a wide variety of fishing spots with diverse species and gorgeous scenery. Whether a casual fisherman or a serious angler, Vermont has something for everyone.
Lake Champlain is a renowned fishing destination. This massive lake spans over 120 miles and is home to bass, walleye, northern pike, salmon, and trout. For those who own their own boat, there are several convenient launch sites around Lake Champlain.
Green Mountain National Forest
The Green Mountain National Forest has numerous rivers and streams that provide excellent opportunities for fly-fishing enthusiasts. Angels will find brook trout and brown trout among other species. The West River is particularly well-known for its stunning fall foliage backdrop during the autumn months.
Emerald Lake State Park
Emerald Lake State Park, located in southern Vermont, boasts beautiful views alongside great fishing experiences. Its clear waters are stocked with rainbow trout every year by local hatcheries. It’s a great spot to combine fun family activities like mountain biking, hiking trails, and exploring nearby Quechee Gorge.
Grand Isle State Park
Located off the shores of Lake Champlain, Grand Isle State Park offers excellent fishing opportunities for bass, pike, and perch. The park offers the chance to rent boats and provides a launch spot for those who wish to explore Lake Champlain.
Appalachian Trail Fishing Spots
The famous Appalachian Trail, which passes through Vermont’s Green Mountains, also provides access to remote fishing sites where you can enjoy peaceful solitude. You may catch brook trout, brown trout, rainbow trout, and other species native to these pristine waters.
However, check regulations before heading out as some areas may require special permits or have seasonal restrictions in place.
In addition to these popular spots, there are countless other lakes, rivers, and streams throughout Vermont that offer fantastic fishing experiences.
And remember to get a valid Vermont fishing license before casting your line.
Wildlife Viewing in Vermont
Vermont boasts an array of wildlife species, making it a great spot for outdoor enthusiasts and photographers. Birdwatchers find plenty of species to record amongst the fall foliage and several iconic mammal species are also known to wander the woods and lakeside areas.
With over 300 bird species recorded in Vermont, avid birdwatchers will have plenty to see during their camping trip. Some popular locations include:
- Green Mountain Club: Home to numerous hiking trails and remote sites, you’re likely to spy warblers, thrushes, and woodpeckers here.
- Grand Isle State Park: Located on Lake Champlain’s shores, this park is a favorite spot to find waterfowl. It also hosts annual hawk migration events.
- Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge: This refuge is a protected habitat for migratory birds like herons, egrets, ospreys, and bald eagles.
Vermont is known for several iconic large mammals that are among wildlife enthusiasts’ favorites to spot. The most common animal spotted include:
- White-tailed deer: Commonly seen grazing near wooded areas or crossing roads at dusk or dawn.
- Moose: These majestic creatures can be found in the northern parts of Vermont, particularly near wetlands and forests.
- Black bears: Although sightings are rare, black bears do inhabit the Green Mountains and are occasionally spotted by lucky campers.
Reptiles and Amphibians
Vermont’s ponds, rivers, and wetlands provide ideal habitats for various reptiles and amphibians. Favorite species that have been spotted include:
- Painted turtles: Frequently seen basking on logs or rocks near water sources during warm months.
- Eastern newts: These small salamanders can often be found under logs or rocks in damp forest environments.
- Northern leopard frogs: Listen for their distinctive calls around marshy areas during springtime evenings.
Tips for Successful Wildlife Viewing
To make the most of your wildlife viewing experience while camping in Vermont, keep these tips in mind:
- Bring binoculars to get a closer look at birds without disturbing them.
- Maintain a safe distance from all wild animals. Never approach or attempt to feed them.
- Tread lightly when exploring natural habitats to minimize your impact on local ecosystems.
- Respect posted signs regarding wildlife and follow all park rules and regulations.
Campfire Recipes for Vermont
Nothing beats the smell of food cooked over an open flame while camping in an idyllic setting. To help you make the most of your Vermont camping experience, we have some of the most popular camping recipes.
No camping trip is complete without indulging in some classic s’mores. This timeless treat requires just three ingredients and is always a hit with both kids and adults alike.
- Graham crackers
- Hershey’s chocolate bars
For a delectable treat, roast marshmallows and sandwich them between graham crackers with a piece of Hershey’s chocolate bar. Enjoy.
Campfire Chili Cheese Fries
This hearty dish is perfect after exploring hiking trails or mountain biking during the day. All you need are the following ingredients:
- Frozen French fries (oven-ready)
- Your favorite chili recipe (canned or homemade)
- Shredded cheddar cheese
- Sour cream (optional)
- Diced green onions (optional)
To make this dish, simply wrap frozen french fries in heavy-duty aluminum foil and place the foil packet on hot coals around your campfire. Let them cook for about 20 minutes, turning occasionally until the fries are crispy. Meanwhile, heat up the chili using another pot/pan placed directly on the coals/fire grate. Just top-cooked french fries with heated chili and shredded cheese, allowing the cheese to melt. Add sour cream and green onions as desired and enjoy!
One-Pot Campfire Jambalaya
This hearty one-pot meal is perfect for refueling after a day of exploring the Green Mountain Club’s hiking trails or paddling around Lake Champlain. You’ll need these ingredients:
- Olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 bell pepper, diced
- Celery (optional)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- Your choice of protein (chicken, sausage, or shrimp)
- Cajun seasoning
In a large pot over your campfire: Heat the olive oil and saute onion, bell pepper & celery until softened. Add garlic and cook for another minute, stirring frequently to avoid burning. Stir in the protein of choice cooking until cooked through or browned on all sides, depending on what you chose. Mix in the rice and cajun seasonings, allowing the flavors to meld together while cooking over low-medium heat directly on the coals. You’ll do this in a pot covered with a lid, occasionally stirring to prevent sticking/burning at the bottom. Serve hot and enjoy.
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7 Safety Tips for Camping in Vermont
Camping in the beautiful Green Mountains of Vermont is an unforgettable experience, but it’s essential to prioritize safety during your outdoor adventure. Below are some general tips that will ensure you’re prepared as possible for the unexpected challenges that can happen in the great outdoors.
Be Prepared for Changing Weather Conditions
Vermont’s weather can be unpredictable, especially in the Green Mountain National Forest. Pack appropriate clothing and gear for all possible conditions, including rain gear, warm layers, and sun protection. Check the local forecast before heading out on your camping trip.
Avoid Encounters with Wildlife
Vermont’s stunning natural environment is home to an incredible array of animals, including bears, moose, and deer. To avoid unwanted encounters while tent camping or hiking trails:
- Maintain a clean campsite by properly storing food and disposing of trash.
- Keep pets leashed at all times.
- Avoid approaching or feeding wild animals.
- If you encounter a bear or moose from a distance: Speak calmly yet firmly; make yourself appear larger by raising your arms and slowly backing away without turning your back on the animal. Do not run.
Familiarize Yourself with Local Regulations
Each state park has its own set of rules regarding firewood transportation (to prevent invasive pests), open fires (due to potential forest fires), boat rentals (for water safety), etc. Get familiar with the rules and regulations before you leave. Remember to visit the website of your destination, such as Grand Isle or Emerald Lake, to learn more.
Practice Leave No Trace Principles
To preserve Vermont’s stunning fall foliage and pristine natural environment, adhere to the Leave No Trace principles. These include disposing of waste properly, minimizing campfire impact, respecting wildlife, and leaving what you find for future generations to enjoy.
Hiking Safety Tips
Vermont offers a variety of hiking trails from easy walks in Quechee Gorge to challenging treks on the Appalachian Trail or Long Trail. Keep these safety tips in mind while exploring:
- Always carry a map and compass or GPS device with you.
- Stay on marked trails and avoid shortcuts.
- Tell someone your planned route and expected return time before heading out.
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FAQs about Vermont Camping
IS VERMONT GOOD FOR CAMPING?
Yes, Vermont is an excellent destination for camping. The state offers a variety of campgrounds and parks with diverse landscapes such as forests, mountains, and lakes. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy activities like hiking, fishing, wildlife viewing, and more while experiencing the natural beauty of Vermont.
IS IT LEGAL TO CAMP ANYWHERE IN VERMONT?
No. Camping is allowed only at designated campsites or on private land with permission from the owner. Public lands such as national forests may have specific areas where dispersed camping is permitted; however, you should always check local regulations before setting up your tent.
Is Boondocking Legal in Vermont?
In general terms, boondocking, or dispersed camping without amenities on public lands like National Forests, is allowed within certain limits in Vermont. Be sure to follow guidelines set by the managing agency.
What Is the Number One Rule of Camping?
The number one rule of camping is “Leave No Trace.” This principle encourages responsible outdoor behavior that minimizes human impact on nature so future generations can also enjoy pristine wilderness experiences. Learn more about Leave No Trace principles here.
Vermont offers a plethora of camping opportunities for nature enthusiasts. From the stunning fall foliage to the gorgeous scenery and wildlife viewing opportunities, there is something for everyone. Whether you prefer tent camping or RV sites, state parks or private campgrounds, Vermont has it all.
If you’re looking for an unforgettable camping experience in Vermont, visit SunWaterDirt.com. Our base camp in Southern Vermont offers access to the West River and Green Mountains with remote sites available year-round. Book your next adventure today!