January 2020
Sunset at Knight Point State Park - K. Yoder
Greetings Everyone,
Welcome to the winter edition of the Vermont State Parks e-newsletter. As you read this, I picture you sitting comfortably by the wood stove sipping a hot beverage and gazing out the window at the glorious Vermont winter landscape. Enjoy! But as soon as you are finished, bundle up in your warmest clothes and head out the door to really connect with the winter.

Despite popular mythology, Vermont State Parks are far from closed in the winter months. To the contrary, some of them are almost as busy as they are in mid-summer. They are great places to launch cold-weather adventures, whether just a short hike with your dog, a sledding afternoon, a ski journey or even a sub-zero camp out ( with permission and proper equipment). The cold, clear air and the beautiful snowy woods combine to make memorable experiences that can last a lifetime. I hope you take full advantage of the park nearest you.

But, even in the midst of all this winter fun, we at Vermont State Parks are hard at work planning for next summer already. There’s a lot of recruiting, hiring, supply purchasing and building repair that has to happen to make your summer visit a success. We’ll be at it all winter, but we will definitely be ready come spring!

Speaking of next summer…don’t forget to make your reservations for camping through our website or by calling the amazing Julie in our call center right here in our office. Grab your favorite campsite now while it’s still available!

See you out there!

Craig Whipple , Director of Vermont State Parks
Now Hiring for the 2020 Season
Outdoor Observer: Winter Foxes
To the left: Illustration of a woodchuck sleeping in a winter den - from 1899-1900 edition of 'St. Nicholas' Magazine for Children

We made it past the darkest days of November and December, and the passing winter solstice is bringing more sunlight. It happens slowly, but we are on the steady march to summertime. Despite that wonderful news, in Vermont we know January is our coldest month, the heart of our chilly winter weather. While I struggle to close my storm windows and dig out my warmest long johns, I think about the ways Vermont wildlife copes in the winter woods.

Recently I was running with wild abandon down a snowy slope near my home and tripped in a woodchuck den entrance. These sorts of things happen to me often as there are lots of subterranean animal homes around and I am not great at looking where I am going. After I rolled down the hill, my eight- year-old daughter and I went back to investigate the den entrance. We saw big crystals of frost around the entrance that looked like frozen condensation from breathing or maybe from the warm bodies of the woodchucks below. It was fun to imagine them safe and warm below the frost line in their underground den.

We were out running around that day playing foxes, one of our favorite games. Usually we play gray foxes, as they climb trees and that makes the fox game more fun. There is a gray fox family living in the neighborhood. We had the good fortune to find their den in a much more graceful way.
To the right: A red fox sits in the snow - J. Peaco

In the white snow we saw dirty fox tracks giving away the den location. Each winter we look for the den, and it always moves. Gray foxes are fascinating, but my daughter’s favorite animal is the red fox. Unlike gray foxes, red foxes rarely use dens in winter months. They grow a long winter coat with insulating guard hairs underneath. Instead of using a den, they curl up in the forest with their big, bushy tail curled around their body covering their nose and feet.

If you move quietly through the winter woods, you could have the great fortune to spot a red fox curled up and covered with snow. You have a good chance of seeing red foxes as they are the most widely distributed mammal in the world (except for humans of course). Red foxes have adapted to many different habitats.

You can also listen for red foxes in January. This is the coldest part of winter, but it is also the start of the red fox mating season. Listen for their nighttime calls, high-pitched screams and barks. Some nighttime noises long attributed to fishers are the high-pitched screams of red fox trying to attract mates.

Sometimes it is easy to feel grumpy about the inconveniences of winter, but if you take the time to explore the woods you will witness the miracle that is wildlife adapting to these frigid days. Look for red foxes in the woods at Woodford , Gifford Woods , Underhill , and New Discovery State Parks, or your favorite woods near you. 

Rebecca Roy, Conservation Education Coordinator
Get Outside and Play!
To the left: The new playground.

"Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury. Play is a necessity."
- Kay Redfield Jamison

Lake Shaftsbury State Park is home to the newest playground in Vermont State Parks. The playground has several choose-your-own adventure features including two slides, swings, and monkey bars.
You asked. We delivered.
Say good-bye to the old bumper sticker vehicle pass!

No more stickers. No more mess.

Rustic Mountainside Cabins Now Available for 2020
To the left: Outside view of the Cascadnock cabin.

It just got a little easier to take in the views at Mt. Ascutney State Park ! Leave behind the bustle of everyday life to experience these scenic cabins nestled along the Mountain Road. Located mid-way up the Mt. Ascutney Parkway, these cabins soar above the Connecticut River Valley. Three out of five cabins are universally accessible ( see map ), and Cascadnock even allows pets! This is the perfect place to unplug and keep some of the creature comforts of home. Restrooms with hot water and showers are located a short distance away.
Above: View inside of the Cascadnock cabin.

Cabins sleep up to four people inside, although two more can set up a tent outside or sleep on the floor. Each cabin has one futon and a set of bunk beds as well as a table with four chairs. Make sure to leave your electronics at home as rustic cabins do not have electricity.
Above: A park visitor enjoys the glow of the campfire.

Soak up the starlight next to your fire ring. Each cabin has a picnic table and campfire ring with grill on site.
Seeking 2020 Photo Interns 
Interns take digital photographs or videos of parks, campsites, visitors, recreational activities and more! This internship has several perks including free camping, day passes, and park merchandise. This internship can be tied to an academic internship if desired. 

Calling All Performers!
We are seeking park performers for our 2020 season! 

If you are a musician, storyteller, birder, crafter, or have another talent that you would like to share with us, let us know! 

Share your pictures!
We love to see your Vermont State Parks adventures! Post them on our Facebook page or share them with #vtstateparks on Instagram or Twitter
Winter’s here and Vermont Parks Forever is celebrating a great 2019 and planning for an even better 2020. 

With donor support in 2019, Vermont Parks Forever:

  • Funded park entry fees for over 200 adaptive kayaking trips for those with mobility impairments
  • Distributed park passes for 150 foster families
  • Provided park entry for 100 students who could not otherwise afford a field trip
  • Put a student intern on Mt. Philo to learn about state park stewardship
  • Finalized the fundraising for an exciting nature education project in Groton coming in 2021…stay tuned!

Just imagine what we can do together in 2020! 

Vermont Parks Forever,
the foundation for Vermont’s state parks
P.O. Box 815, Montpelier, VT 05601

Thank you for reading the official newsletter of Vermont State Parks!
Vermont State Parks | 1 (888) 409-7579 | anr.parks@vermont.gov | www.vtstateparks.com

"Winter is not a season, it's a celebration." - Anamika Mishra