July 2021
Reeling in a fish as the sun sets at Button Bay State Park - A. Vincent
Greetings Everyone!
As we bank the turn from July into August, I am struck by the beautiful challenge of operating Vermont’s amazing park system. We are grateful every time someone enters the park as it validates our hard work and our mission to share these incredible spaces. At the mid-summer mark, we are blessed with near record visitation, despite the challenging weather patterns.
The ever changing weather is one of the many things I appreciate about Vermont, but it sure makes packing for a day visit or camping trip more interesting!
Vermont's range of weather reminds me of the broad diversity of our 55 parks. Each park offers its own unique setting and opportunities. Whichever type of outdoor experience you may value the most, I am sure we have a park that fits your needs. I encourage you to research the parks on vtstateparks.com then get out there and explore the richness of our parks!
I was reading a note this morning from a visitor whose memories were shaped from their childhood experiences camping at a state park. I know the memories of my own kids have been cemented by their time in our state parks. The incredible thing about memorable experiences is that every one of them is different - they can be rooted in the senses or may stem from joy, or from unexpected circumstances that you make the best of, or from shared experiences with others. 
I hope you have found more than your share of memories in a Vermont State Park, and I trust there are many more to come for you.
What many believe to be the greatest part of the park season is still ahead of us. Please let us know how we can help you make the best of it!

Nate McKeen, Director of State Parks
Vermont is fully open!
Right: A Mt. Philo State Park Ranger at the park entrance - T. Loiter.

On June 14, 2021, Governor Scott removed all State COVID-19 restrictions and the State of Emergency expired on June 15.

For more information, current considerations, and operational recommendations, please visit Vermont.gov/Vermont-Forward.

Ready to unplug?
Join the Venture Vermont Outdoor Challenge! Complete activities, earn points, and win your VIP coin for free access to Vermont State Parks.

Left: Venture Vermont Champions starring in their parks music video 'Unplugged' as part of the 2020 Challenge.

Disc Golf Course Officially Open for Business
at Lake St. Catherine State Park
Right: A new disc golf tee at Lake St. Catherine State Park.

Thanks to a full-scale community effort an 18-hole disc golf course is officially open for business at Lake St. Catherine State Park.

The idea for the course began back in July 2019 when Green Mountain College (GMC) in Poultney was shuttered for financial reasons. Disc golf aficionado Tim Johnson, owner of Johnson and Son Bikeworks in nearby Hampton, NY, reached out to Parks Regional Manager Reuben Allen, suggesting that the college was willing to donate the baskets from its disc golf course to Lake St. Catherine State Park. Johnson put Allen in touch with GMC Provost Tom Maughs Pugh, and by the end of July the baskets had been moved from the GMC campus to Lake St. Catherine State Park.
Left: A player throws a disc on the course.

“From the beginning it was really amazing how this course was created from the ground up due to the generosity and work of the local community,” Allen said.

The parks division didn’t have a budget to pay for the course to be designed. That hurdle was quickly overcome when Allen was chatting with one of his colleagues, Rutland County Forester and avid disc golfer Kyle Mason. Mason volunteered to help get the project off the ground. A few weeks later Allen and several other park staff members met at the park with Mason, Johnson and his friend Ed Larson, who is another avid local disc golfer, to take a walk through the woods and see where a course would fit.

“Tim, Ed and Kyle’s knowledge of and passion for the game was critical in laying out the course and resulting in the final product that we have today,” Allen said.
Right: A custom disc features a scene with two people sitting at a campfire looking up at the sky and the constellations are camping/park related images.

Although that trio was largely responsible for the course layout, it was through a community-wide effort that the work was completed to make that layout a reality. More than 100 hours of volunteer labor partnered with the work by various Vermont State Parks staff members to clear the 18-hole course and get it ready for play.

“The course has been playable for a while now, but we continue to work on the finishing touches,” Allen said. “All 18 holes are now complete, but we still have some signage to finish up, and we hope to get some benches built and installed at a few points along the course.”

The courses wanders through the open fields and trees at Lake St. Catherine and takes approximately 1-2 hours dependent on the player's skill level. While the park has plans to offer loaner discs in the near future, make sure to bring your favorite disc for the time being.

The course is available for play by campers and day-use visitors. The day-use area is open from 10 a.m. – sunset daily. Regular park entrance fees apply. Camping reservations can be made online at www.vtstateparks.com

Did you know...
that we partner with the Vermont Dept. of Libraries to help you "check out" the parks?

Library patrons can check out passes directly from their local library. These passes allow for free day use admission of one car holding up to eight people into a Vermont State Park day use area!

To the right: Vermont Libraries State Parks and History vehicle passes.
Park Events are in full swing!
Outdoor Observer: Summer Secrets
Left: Campers gather round as sparks rise from the campfire.

While you are snuggled in your tent, lean-to, cottage or cabin sleeping away after a busy day of outdoor fun, there is a world of activity going on in the forest around you. When the sun sets and we start pulling out the marshmallows and lighting our evening fire, nocturnal animals are just waking up to get their day started. 

Think about the last time you were woken in the middle of the night by a strange sound. Did you ever figure out what it was? Recently I was camping at Brighton State Park, and as I settled in for the night, I heard loud bird calls coming from nearby. It sounded like, Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you-all?" You may recognize that call; it is the call of the Barred Owl, our most common woodland owl. Owls are birds that are nocturnal; they are adapted to being active at night.

During the day owls find hidden places to roost in the large forest tracts they call home. At night they hunt by sitting on perches in trees, watching and listening for small prey (such as mice and other small mammals, birds, amphibians, or invertebrates). Owls have amazing hearing and they can detect a small mouse shuffling through the leaves on the forest floor, and swoop down quickly to make their kill.
Right: A Barred Owl perched and sunning itself - R. Schwan-Noble

Owls have special feathers that allow them to fly silently. Each feather has a fringe on the edge. This fringe is like a comb and allows the feathers to interlock, sort of like Velcro, when they fly. This cuts down on the wind turbulence on their wings and allows for silent flight. While you are sleeping, these amazing raptors are catching their prey through excellent hearing and swift silent flight. 

Sometimes you can see Barred Owls because they often become active at dusk—right when things start to dim after the sun sets. You can recognize them by their whitish under parts with brown streaks (the “bars” that give them their name). Barred Owls are large owls with no ear tufts and they have dark brown eyes. Their body is mostly brown. 

Even if you don’t get the chance to see one, you can definitely hear these common owls during the night in any wooded area with large tracks of forest. They live in many state parks around the state, listen for them on your next visit to Woodford, Emerald Lake, Coolidge, Maidstone, and New Discovery State Parks (among many others). If you practice the call yourself, you might even be able to call a Barred Owl in close to get a good look.  

Rebecca Roy, Parks Interpretive Program Manager

Risk Free Reservations Make
Vacation Planning A Breeze
Left: Sunrise from Beech lean-to at Stillwater State Park - J. Esposito.

Want to snag your favorite site for next summer, but afraid you'll need to cancel due to life's unexpected twists and turns? Go ahead and make that camping reservation now! Our Risk Free Reservation policy has you covered.

You can shuffle reservation dates, sites, or parks for free as long as you:

  • Keep the same number of nights, sites, and site type within the current operating season.
  • Make changes by 2:00 p.m. the day prior to your original arrival date.
We book 11 months in advance beginning 9 am on the first business day of the month and now accepting reservations for 2022!

Reserve online and make changes to reservations 24/7 or call 1-888-409-7579 Mon - Fri 9am - 4pm

Now that's happy camping!
With your help this year, Vermont Parks Forever, the nonprofit foundation for Vermont State Parks, has doubled our Park Access Fund and expanded our reach into all 14 counties of Vermont! Together, we’re raising awareness and funds to remove barriers and help even more Vermonters enjoy a visit to one of the 55 state parks.

We’re still looking to do more! Have suggestions for an organization that we can help into the parks? Email us at info@vermontparksforever.org. Check out who we’ve helped into the parks so far this year at www.vermontparksforever.org/park-access-fund/.

Spending time in nature is important for everyone, and since 2016, Vermont Parks Forever has provided free day passes to help those who otherwise would not have the chance to experience the state parks.  Free passes given to foster families, essential workers, youth programs, and Vermonters with mobility impairments, ensure the natural relief a day in the parks can bring.  Vermont’s state parks are for everyone and together we can promote a more equitable outdoor experience! 

Interested in helping us further this good work?
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

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

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.” — John Lubbock