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From The Blog Best of: Camping spots

Trade the clock for a compass

Picture it now: big splashes into clear, cold water; hiking to breathtaking mountain views; s’mores over a roaring campfire; sleeping under the stars. You can make it your reality with help from this list of our favorite summer camping spots. May the forest be with you…

Lean-to shelters on the Appalachian Trail near Woodstock

This is the most rustic (and strenuous!) option on our list, but those seeking a multi-day trek through Vermont’s grand open spaces spanning Woodstock, nearby Killington, Pomfret, and beyond won’t want to miss this slice of the AT! Park at Thunder Falls in Killington or on the Elm Street shoulder in Norwich to begin your journey. Each shelter, including the Stony Brook lean-to, Winturri lean-to, Thistle Hill lean-to, and the more contained stone and log Happy Hill structure features 3+ sides of coverage that still provide the intrepid hiker an open-air experience, complete with the sensation of sleeping under the stars.

  • Address: See map for location (longitude/latitude) details
  • Season: June – mid-October recommended
  • Camping options: Lean-to, tent
  • Amenities: Privies, nearby water sources, hiking

Of all the paths you take in life, make sure some of them are dirt

John Muir
Happy Hill Shelter on the AT
Pablo de Gárate
Happy Hill Shelter on the AT

Quechee State Park

“Vermont’s Little Grand Canyon,” the Quechee Gorge, awaits, featuring jaw-dropping views 165 feet above the chasm – carved out by the Ottauquechee River over 13,000 years. Quechee State Park and its campground settle around this stunning natural attraction, providing easy access to hiking trails into the gorge (a great spot for fishing and swimming), Dewey’s Mill Pond, and even the Vermont Institute of Natural Science’s Nature Center. Choose from tent, RV, and lean-to sites and don’t miss hands-on programs for the whole family, including night hikes, nature crafts and games, campfire programs, and amphibian explorations. Need a break from roughing it? Take a short drive to Woodstock for delicious food, charming family-owned shops, Woodstock Town Hall Theatre for movie night, and more.

  • Address: 5800 Woodstock Road, Hartford, VT 05047
  • Distance from Woodstock: Approximately 15 minutes
  • Season: May 17 – October 20
  • Camping options: Tent, RV, and lean-to sites
  • Amenities: Restrooms, coin-operated showers, picnic area, hiking, fishing, nature programs, RV sanitary station, wheelchair accessible, pets permitted, horseshoe pit, volleyball net
Quechee Gorge
“Quechee Gorge”, by Len Radin, is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Quechee Gorge is only steps away from the camping area

Quechee/Pine Valley KOA

If you want Quechee Gorge access with more cushy accommodations, check out the nearby KOA! With Wi-Fi, a swimming pool, general store, dog park, and a fishing pond all on-site – you’ll have all the comforts of home enveloped in the beauty of the great outdoors – complete with entertainment for all.

  • Address: 3700 Woodstock Road, White River Junction, VT 05001
  • Distance from Woodstock: Less than 20 minutes
  • Season: May 3 – October 21
  • Camping options: RV and tent sites, cabins
  • Amenities: Wi-Fi, pool (May 25 – September 3), on-site general store, restrooms and showers, kitchen, 50 max amp, cable TV, fishing (no license required), a pavilion and dog park, playground, activity field, tetherball, Saturday hay rides, as well as firewood, rentals (bike, canoe, pedal boat), and propane for purchase
Quechee KOA cabin
Quechee KOA
Quechee KOA cabin
Quechee KOA map
Quechee KOA
Quechee KOA map
family fishing
Quechee KOA
Silver Lake

Silver Lake State Park

Locals’ go-to beach spot is also a picturesque camping destination, with sites for tents and RVs, as well as seven lean-tos.

A soft, sandy beach along this 84-acre lake is perfect for little ones, and a playground, horseshoe pit, volleyball net, and boat rentals ensure all ages can find their own brand of fun.

While shops and restaurants like the Barnard Country Store and the Barnard Inn & Max’s Tavern are nearby for provisions and a tasty meal, Woodstock and all its amenities are a mere 20 minutes away!

  • Address: 20 State Park Beach Road, Barnard, VT 05031
  • Season: Memorial Day Weekend – Labor Day Weekend
  • Camping options: Tent, RV, and lean-to sites
  • Amenities: Restrooms, coin-operated showers, grills, snack bar, picnic area, swimming, fishing, nature programs, playground, horseshoe pit, volleyball net, canoe/kayak access, kayak, canoe, pedal boat, and row boat rentals, RV sanitary station, wheelchair accessible, pets allowed (not on beach)

Coolidge State Park

President Calvin Coolidge, AKA “Silent Cal” lets his legacy do the talking with this striking state park. Standing much the same as the day it was created in the 1930s, the park combines rustic campsites and dramatic mountain views for an authentic, historic experience of nature. Choose from a lean-to featuring sweeping views of the Black River Valley and Green Mountains or forested tent and RV sites – then hike, nature-watch, mountain bike, play, or picnic on a hilltop to your heart’s content.

Coolidge State Park
Image from thedyrt.com uploaded by Michele S.
Tent and lean-to with spectacular views at Coolidge State Park
The Blueberry Leanto at Coolidge State Park
"CoolidgeStatePark BlueberryLeanto," by Magicpiano is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
The Blueberry Leanto at Coolidge State Park
  • Address: 855 Coolidge State Park Road, Plymouth, VT 05056
  • Distance from Woodstock: Less than 25 minutes
  • Season: Memorial Day Weekend – Columbus Day Weekend
  • Camping options: Tent, RV, and lean-to sites
  • Amenities: Restrooms, coin-operated showers, picnic area, grills, Wi-Fi areas, hiking, mountain biking, horseshoe pits, playground, nature center, RV sanitary station, wheelchair accessible, pets allowed

Gifford Woods State Park

Located at the base of Killington and Pico, just across the street from the 101-acre Kent Pond, this state park has glorious natural vistas in spades. Claim your spot at a tent, RV, or lean-to site, or upgrade your accommodations with one of four cabins – then enjoy the elements that make Gifford Woods unique, including one of the few old-growth hardwood tree stands remaining in Vermont. Hike the 1.1 Kent Brook Trail loop, hike part of the AT via an easy hook up from the park, or enjoy the lake with a round of swimming, boating, or fishing. The world is your oyster!

  • Address: 34 Gifford Woods Road, Killington, VT 05751
  • Distance from Woodstock: Less than 30 minutes
  • Season: May 17 – October 20
  • Camping options: Tent, RV, and lean-to sites, cabins
  • Amenities: Restrooms, coin-operated showers, picnic area, Wi-Fi area, hiking, fishing, swimming, nearby mountain biking, play area, horseshoe pit, volleyball net, trailer sanitary station (no hookups), firewood and ice available for purchase, wheelchair accessible, pets allowed (but not in most cabins)
Cooking on a campfire

Mount Ascutney State Park

Derived from several Abenaki words meaning "mountain of the rocky summit," Mount Ascutney looms 3,144-feet into the clouds for a panoramic camping experience. When you’re not stargazing or cooking over a campfire, four trailheads and over 12 miles of trails provide not just a chance to stretch your legs, but also experience a blast from the past as you encounter the sites of former quarries, homesteads, and logging operations – many complete with viewpoints of the Connecticut River Valley. The pièce de résistance of a camping stay at one of the tent, RV, and lean-to sites: the summit observation tower that seems to set you on top of the world! And adrenaline junkies, take note. Two launching sites make this mountain a hang-glider’s paradise.

  • Address: 1826 Back Mountain Road, Windsor, VT 05089
  • Distance from Woodstock: Approximately 30 minutes
  • Season: May 17 – October 13
  • Camping options: Tent, RV, and lean-to sites
  • Amenities: Restrooms, coin-operated showers, picnic area, grills, lookout tower, hiking, hang-gliding, horseshoe pit, RV sanitary station, pets permitted, wheelchair accessible

Nature never did betray the heart that loved her

William Wordsworth
View from the peak of Mt Ascutney
“Ascutney state park - view from the top,” by brenda, is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
View from the peak of Mt Ascutney

Camp Plymouth State Park

This park has more to offer than just its pristine lake beach, snack bar, rentals, and scenic camp and cottage sites. It’s also brimming with history. From its varied past as a supply route in the French and Indian War and the American Revolution, a farm, gold mine, and summer camps, Camp Plymouth State Park – there are many remnants you can still see today. Hand-pan for gold in Buffalo Brook. Hike the Vista Trail for waterway views. Swim in Echo Lake, enjoyed by summer campers nearly a century ago. No matter what you choose, you’ll find it’s all good in the woods!

  • Address: 2008 Scout Camp Road, Ludlow, VT 05149
  • Distance from Woodstock: Less than 35 minutes
  • Season: Memorial Day Weekend – September 29
  • Camping options: Group lean-to camping sites (horses allowed), cottages
  • Amenities: Restrooms, picnic area, grills, pavilion with stoves and refrigerators, gold panning, swimming, hiking, fishing, canoe/kayak access, boat rentals, playground, horseshoe pit, volleyball net, RV sanitation station, snack bar, wheelchair accessible, no pets allowed
Echo Lake at Camp Plymouth
"Echo Lake, Calm," by Aimee & Paul Bogush is liscensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Echo Lake at Camp Plymouth

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