With just a little over half a million people, Vermont is one of the least-populated states in the U.S. This is a major appeal for those that call the Green Mountain State home—less people means more wilderness. With immense forests, a vast network of trails and waterways, and nearly 100 locations to pitch a tent, Vermont is home to top-notch outdoor recreation. Among these, Vermont state parks make fantastic destinations for year-round camping.
Your Guide to Vermont State Parks Camping
Vermont is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. Boasting nearly 60 state parks—with camping options available at most of them. Locals and visitors alike have abundant opportunities for hiking, paddling, fishing, biking, and hunting, as well as plenty of winter recreation options. Here’s our picks for some of the best state park destinations in southern, central and northern Vermont.
Forests and Local Foods in Southern Vermont
Featuring the Green Mountain and Finger Lakes National Forests, southern Vermont is home to a number of ponds, rivers, and lakes that offer clear water swimming, boating, and fishing. Visitors will also find an avid local foods movement in this part of the state. Roadside farm stands, farmer’s markets, and numerous locally-sourced cafes and restaurants are common, and offer a healthy and delicious treat to camping trips in this region.
Bordering the George Aiken Wilderness Area, Woodford State Park is the highest-altitude state park in Vermont. Situated on a mountain plateau at 2,400 feet, the park surrounds Adams Reservoir in a dense forest of spruce, fir and birch trees. For those wishing to fully immerse themselves in nature, this is the place to go. Fishing, swimming, and paddling can enjoyed on the reservoir, and 2.7 miles of hiking trails in the park are just waiting to be explored. For a walk on the wild side, you can take a guided hike with the park naturalist, or watch for some of the park’s resident wildlife.
Just 10 miles west of Wilmington, the campground at Woodford State Park offers 76 tent and RV sites, as well as 20 lean-to shelters. There is also four rustic, one-room cabins available to rent. Onsite facilities include drinking water, flush toilets, coin-op showers, picnic areas and recycling stations; a dump station is located outside the camp area. A beach and designated swim area is located on the north shore of the reservoir, and boat rentals are available. Seasonal campsite rates range from $18–$27/night; cabins range from $51–$53/night.
“The views [of] the lake are beautiful. The grounds and facilities are well kept. A great spot to camp in Southern Vermont!” —The Dyrt camper Sandy M.
Not a state park, but part of the Green Mountain National Forest, Grout Pond Recreation Area is popular for a number of year-round outdoor activities. Located just 20 miles north of Wilmington, the area is home to numerous lakes and rivers for fishing and paddling, as well as 10 miles of multipurpose trails for hiking and riding. After summer, visitors can enjoy cooler days and plenty of vibrant autumn color, and in winter, many of the area’s trails are open for snowshoeing and skiing.
The campground at Grout Pond is small and more on the primitive side, which offers a quiet, peaceful location that offers a more wilderness-like setting. There are only 6 drive-in sites and 11 walk-in campsites available; some of the latter are also boat-accessible. The only amenities in the campground are vault toilets and water pumps, and these are available only during the summer. Sites are available on first-come, first-serve basis. Campsites are $16/night.
“While it’s always beautiful [Grout Pond], is just too busy in July and August. Early October is just about perfect—no bugs, no people, and fantastic views all around.” —The Dyrt camper Tara S.
The Best of Everything in Central Vermont
Central Vermont is the home of our nation’s smallest state capital—both in size and population—Montpelier. But there’s more to this region of Vermont than a small big city. It’s the home of Ben & Jerry’s, a number of great breweries, and some excellent farmer’s markets. Similar to parts farther south, the central area takes pride in its local foods and access to the outdoors. Featuring numerous small lakes and plenty of hiking trails, this region is ideal for those who want to dabble in it all.
Situated in the popular Groton State Forest, New Discovery State Park is a favorite with both campers looking for a scenic overnight stay, and day-use adventurers who come for the trails and trout fishing. Visitors to New Discovery also have easy access to several other state parks, making this location a great basecamp for enjoying more than 35 miles of multiuse and winter trails. Nearby, the Groton Nature Center offers a variety of exhibits, nature programs and guided hikes for all ages, interests and abilities.
With 39 tent and RV sites, and 15 lean-to shelters, the campground at New Discovery State Park is just a 40-minute drive from Montpelier. The campground also offers 7 designated horse-camping sites, and 7 remote sites on Osmore Pond, for those looking for a little more seclusion. Amenities include flush toilets, coin-op showers, kids’ play area, and two picnic pavilions. There is a dump station for RVs, but hookups are not available. Seasonal campsite rates range from $18–$27;
“We had the most perfect spot in a private site on Osmore Pond that was accessible only by canoe! Quiet, serene, & beautiful! Can’t wait to go back!” —The Dyrt camper Sambath T.
When one thinks of lakes and Vermont, Lake Champlain is often first to come to mind, yet Lake Bomoseen is certainly a special place in its own right. Boasting the largest lake entirely within Vermont’s borders, the park at Lake Bomoseen offers water sports, hiking, and swimming in the forested Taconic Mountains. Once the site of Vermont’s booming slate mining operations, visitors can take a self-guided walk around the quarry’s old remnants, or view a selection of period artifacts in the old home that serves as a small museum and the park ranger’s quarters.
Just 20 miles west of Rutland, the campground at Lake Bomoseen State Park With offers 55 tent and RV sites and 10 lean-tos shelters. Sites are fairly well-spaced out, allowing for some decent privacy either in wooded or open areas, or near the lakeshore. Campground facilities include drinking water faucets, flush restrooms and coin-op showers. Hookups are not available, but there is a dump station onsite. At the lakeshore, campers and day-users have access to a swimming beach, boat launch, kid’s playground and volleyball courts. There is also a concession stand that offers snacks, firewood and boat rentals. Seasonal campsite rates range from $18–$27/night.
“We wanted an escape from the crazy crowds on Memorial Day and this was the perfect spot. More local based and on a gorgeous lake in Vermont.” —The Dyrt camper Jessica H.
Backcountry Bliss in Northern Vermont
The northern third of Vermont is home to popular outdoor destinations including Burlington, The Islands, Lake Memphramagog, and the virtually untouched Northeast Kingdom. State park camping in this area can range from more populated areas in the northwestern section, to vast and dense forests in the northeast. This being the more mountainous section of Vermont, many of these parks are frequented by avid hikers and backcountry campers looking for an immersive outdoors experience.
Accessible via US Route 2, Grand Isle is the largest of the Lake Champlain islands. On the east side of the island, Grand Isle State Park is the most-visited park in Vermont’s state park system—and for good reason. Campers can enjoy an abundance of water activities on the lake—swimming, fishing, paddling, boating, and skiing—or tour the islands and local villages by bicycle on nearly 1,000 miles of designated bike paths. A 1-mile walking trail explores the hardwood forest and wetlands near the park. In summer months, campers often gather at the common area for picnic dinners while enjoying live, local music.
The campground at Grand Isle features 115 tent and RV sites, 36 lean-to shelters and four rentable cabins. Sites are located in both open and wooded areas. Most of the lean-tos are located along the lakeshore. The campground provides drinking water faucets, flush restrooms, coin-op showers, and recycling and dump stations; hookups are not available. Campers also have access to a swimming beach, kid’s playground, nature center with interpretive programs, horseshoe and volleyball areas, and a boat launch. Seasonal campsite rates range from $18–$27/night; cabins range from $51–$53/night.
“Right on Lake Champlain with clean, beautiful sites. Lots of awesome lake activities.” —The Dyrt camper Emma B.
Perhaps the best part about Brighton State Park is just how remote it is. Located in the heart of the “Northeast Kingdom” (coined by Governor George D. Aiken in 1949), this region of Vermont is known for its expanse of wild country and all the outdoor recreation it invites, as well as its local foods, breweries and arts. This precedes its days as a bustling railroad community from the late 1800s to the early 1900s. Today, the rolling, tree-covered hills of this area are a haven for wildlife, so it’s not uncommon to happen upon a bear or moose, or hear the haunting call of a loon from your tent at night.
Located 25 miles northeast of Lyndon, the campground at Brighton State Park offers 54 tent and RV sites, 23 lean-to shelters, and five cabins on the shores of Spectacle Pond. The campground is divided into three separate loops, which spaces out campers and contributes to the park’s remote atmosphere. Each loop is equipped with drinking water faucets, flush restrooms and coin-op showers. The park also features two swimming beaches, a kid’s playground, sports courts, nature center, and an amphitheater that hosts seasonal nature programs. There are also 2 miles of hiking trails that explore the park’s Red Pine Natural Area. Seasonal campsite rates range from $18–$27/night.
“Peaceful. Great place to relax, good for kids, hiking, biking, kayaking, and canoeing.” —The Dyrt camper Katy S.
Now that you’ve gotten a taste of some of Vermont’s best state parks, and all the outdoor fun they have to offer, you just have to start planning your camping getaway. Can’t decide? Visit them all!