Burton Island is a 2.5 mile long island state park off of the shoreline of Lake Champlain. It is a car free paradise that requires a boat or ferry to get to but yield the rewards of peace, nature, and gorgeous shoreline.
Campsites at Burton Island book far in advance. When we booked our Labor Day weekend tent site back in March, there were only 2 leantos (out of 26) left and a handful of tent sites (out of 14). You can visit https://vtstateparks.com/burton.html to book a reservation. The campground is open from Memorial Day Weekend through the Tuesday morning after Labor Day.
We stayed at site 7 in the main tent site loop. While we didn't technically have shore line access, there was a short path through the woods that led to a rocky shoreline where we left our canoe and kayak. There was ample space among the trees for hanging hammocks. The dirt and gravel pad was mostly flat, without any pesky roots to poke us. The site also drained very well--it rained all night our last night and we had zero seepage into the tent floor.
The tenter section was just a short walk to a clean bathroom up on the hill. Each side had one shower that cost 50 cents per 5 minutes of shower time. There are two other bathrooms available but a further walk. The tent site section was also nice and close to the Marina area, which included a store that serves coffee and sandwiches (the coffee was decent!). While one could hear the folks docked down in the Marina when they hung out on their boats, our site was not close enough for their noise to be a nuisance. There is a water access point within 300 feet of most campsites--which was perfect.
Dogs are allowed at Burton Island, but there are areas at the State Park that they are not allowed, such as the beach area. Alcohol consumption is also allowed, but there wasn't any problem with people partying loudly or obnoxiously.
There are beautiful trails that cover the island. The south tip of the island gets more wind, and therefore waves, which my children greatly enjoyed for swimming. The northern part has shale beaches, and a few areas of mucky/pebbly beaches. Lots of old trees abound as well. There are also tons of frogs! The trails are all short enough that they could be explored during one day--or go on them multiple times for sunsets and sunrises.
Getting to the island was the hardest part. Depending on the weather, the 3/4 mile crossing from Kamp KilKare State Park can be rough and windy. If you are an experienced paddler, have a good copilot, and not too much gear, you would be fine. Also, if you have a boat with a motor, most of the time the water is not too rough. However, the Island Runner Ferry is likely the best option for most people who want to enjoy the island without being stressed about swamping a boat! The ferry is $8 per person, with no extra charge for gear. They do charge $2 for bikes. If you want to use the ferry, but still want a kayak or canoe at the island, you have to paddle it across separately
Overall, we had a fabulous time. We watched a sunset on the South tip, caught frogs at our shoreline, rented a paddleboard, played int the waves, and enjoyed the icecream sandwiches form the camp store, skipped stones in the lake, and explored the island. Our kids can't wait to go back.
Since I am a Ranger for The Dyrt, I have the fun task of testing products every now and then.
This camping trip I was quite thrilled to be chosen to test out a product from Nature's Coffee Kettle. We LOVE coffee, and generally bring our French Press and hand coffee grinder along camping so we can have a good cup of joe.
As parents of 5 kids, we always need LOTS of coffee while camping. During this trip, we tested out the International 16-Cup Pack. We even left our own coffee at home so that we would not be tempted to use it instead.
-- Nature's Coffee Kettle is basically an ultra-lightweight version of a pour-over coffee system. The basic component of the system is a heavy duty plastic bag with a spout and built-in funnel. Their coffees are really ground coffee (not instant) packaged in portions for 4 cups. The envelope of coffee gets placed into the funnel portion of the plastic reservoir, and you pour boiling water slowly over it. Sometimes you have to pause for the water to finish trickling down. The whole process takes about 4 minutes. The trickiest part of the system is the need to hold the bag upright while pour--a few times it tipped over since the base didn't have enough weight in it.
Coffee verdict: It tasted GOOD! Not quite as amazing as the stuff we brew at home, but honestly, as good as most coffee I have had at coffee shops! We liked the Sumatran and Guatemalan flavors the best, though we also tried the Columbian and French Roast.
System verdict: It was a little tricky to use at first--be careful not to burn yourself! I did love how lightweight it was, and how little space it took up. The plastic brew system folds flat, and is reusable. It would be fantastic for backpacking. It was so much better than instant coffee.
No power hookups and no water hookup at site; ferry takes you to the island; for a few, your equipment will be delivered to your campsite; restaurant and store on site; wood for sale
Wonderful lean-tos and campsites on an island in Lake Champlain. Great Experience!
Such a nice, peaceful place with kind, helpful, and professional staff. Has a store and freshly made cafe food. There is a day area with a beach as well as many places around the island to swim. Just wear water shoes since it is mainly a rocky coast. Bathrooms are clean and have flush toilets.
We stayed on Burton Island in a camper site for two nights. The island convenience store has awesome breakfast! You can swim anywhere you can find, and walk down their well-maintained trails. Only negatives: a lottttt of bugs/mosquitoes, and not the best bathrooms. Otherwise we think it’s worth the visit!
I've been exploring Vermont State Parks since before I could walk, and Burton Island State Park is my all time favorite! There's a million reasons to love camping here, and if you are visiting Vermont in the summer, I think it's one of those must-visit destinations. Here's why it's my favorite place to camp in the whole state.
- It's like going to to a tropical island without leaving Vermont.
- There are no cars on the island. You have to paddle yourself out or take the VT State Park passenger ferry from St. Albans.
- It's super family friendly - maybe it's because there aren't cars all over the place, but the island is full of free range kids, and they're having a blast.
- There's a camping bistro where you can buy pancakes, coffee, local beer, and fine wines
- Sunsets are magical - if you can, get a lean-to right on the water. If not, hike to the western shore for the main event.
- You can bring your dog - there's even an off-leash dog beach!
- You can stay in a cabin! If you don't want to rough it, you don't have to.
- There are lots of trails to explore, and almost all of them lead to the water where you can cool off in Lake Champlain.
- There are kayaks and canoes to rent.
- There's a marina (with WiFi), and you can rent slips for the night.
Waterfront sites book very quickly (like 11 months in advance), but if you don't mind being farther from the main campground and running water, you can almost always rent one of the four primitive sites, which are secluded and waterfront. You can paddle out to Burton Island on your own from Kamp Killcare State Park, where you'll leave your car. It's a very short paddle and shouldn't take more than 10 minutes. The passenger ferry runs throughout the day, if you don't have a boat of your own.
Once you're on the island, you can borrow a cart to bring your gear to your site, or you can pay one of the park rangers to haul it in one of their golf carts. We have stayed in a few different sites over the years -- we aren't picky, because we usually get one of the last sites available. We've never been disappointed a site. They're all great, and within easy walking distance of the beach.
This is one of my favorite places to camp because it's on an island and just getting there is part of the experience. After getting all of our stuff packed on the ferry and arriving on the island, we chose to have the campground deliver our stuff to our campsite for $10… it was well worth it. We were lucky enough to get a waterfront lean-to and the view was spectacular! The campground is very clean and the staff are friendly and helpful. There are a lot of activities to do on the island. We went fishing, swimming, and out in a canoe. We rented a canoe from the campground and paddled over to Wood Island. The one downfall is the shower. The water pressure is barely enough to rinse the soap off.