15 Best State Parks in Vermont You Have to Visit!

Vermont’s state parks are some of the best places to enjoy the extraordinary natural beauty of this New England state.

Whether you’re a family or group of friends planning a vacation in nature, a couple seeking a quiet romantic escape, or a solo traveler looking for a peaceful retreat amidst scenic surroundings, Vermont’s state parks are the answer!

Outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers will enjoy the hiking trails, wooded areas, and wildlife viewing offered by the state parks in Vermont. Families will enjoy the interpretive programs offered by camp naturalists. And campers will enjoy the amenities at state park campgrounds.

If you love the idea of a day trip into nature, or a relaxing overnight camping or cabin getaway, read on to discover the best state parks in Vermont to put on your must-visit list!

Fall at Mt. Philo State Park in Vermont
Fall colors at Mount Philo State Park

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Quechee State Park

Showcasing the dramatic Quechee Gorge, Quechee State Park is one of the must-visit state parks in Vermont.

Vermont’s deepest gorge, Quechee Gorge is the result of glacial activity from many thousands of years ago. There are many viewpoints that offer spectacular views of the gorge, and the Ottauquechee River flowing 165 feet below you.

Ottauquechee River at Quechee State Park in Vermont
Ottauquechee River at Quechee State Park

The site used to be owned by a wool processing mill from the late 1860s until it was relocated in 1952. Most of the buildings were destroyed, but you can still view some of the mill and dam by the gorge.

Hike the Quechee Gorge Trail, a 2.7-mile out-and-back hike that’s relatively easy (but is uphill on the return) and offers spectacular views from the bridge. Enjoy wildflowers in season, ferns and other flora, and access to the river at the bottom.

You can also fish, do the shorter trail to the dam overlook, just relax in nature, or picnic at Quechee Gorge State Park. If you are a birder, the VINS Nature Center, which rehabs wild birds, is located close by.

Quechee Gorge is one of the prettiest places to visit in Vermont, if you love nature and scenic drives. It’s beautiful all year, but especially so in the fall.

Camping in Quechee State Park

If you enjoy camping, you will love overnighting at Quechee State Park. There are 45 tent/RV sites in the park (no hookups), and 7 lean-to sites. The campground offers flush toilets, hot and cold running water, and coin-operated hot showers.

Location, hours, and admission

Quechee State Park is located at 5800 Woodstock Road, Hartford, VT 05047. The park is open from 10 a.m. until sunset for day use, and the season runs from mid-May until mid-October. Dogs on leash are permitted. Day use fee is $4.00 per adult and $2.00 per child (4-13).

Smugglers’ Notch State Park

With its fascinating history and outstanding scenery, Smugglers’ Notch is undoubtedly one of Vermont’s best state parks! The notch itself is a narrow pass in the Green Mountains of Vermont, wedged between Spruce Peak and Mount Mansfield.

Fall at Smugglers' Notch State Park in Vermont
Smugglers’ Notch State Park in the fall

When trade with Canada was forbidden in 1807, locals that found Canadian markets closer continued to trade illegally across the border, transferring cattle and other merchandise through the pass.

Later, slaves in search of freedom used the notch to get across the border into Canada. And during the days of Prohibition, smugglers took advantage of the new and improved road over the pass to smuggle in liquor into the US.

Today, Smugglers’ Notch is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts, who come here to hike, bike, explore caves, or go bouldering. Do the 3.5-mile long scenic drive that starts at the Barnes Camp Visitor Center for beautiful views. Have a picnic.

For an easy walk, stroll the boardwalk over the wetlands by the visitor center. The moderate Sterling Pond Trail makes its way uphill along forests of birch and maple to the pond.

For hikers looking for a challenge, Hellbrook Trail goes to the top of Mount Mansfield. You can also hike a part of the historic Long Trail, the oldest long-distance hiking trail in the country.

Exploring Smugglers’ Notch State Park is one of the best things to do in Stowe, Vermont!

Camping in Smugglers’ Notch State Park

For overnight stays, the park offers a campground with 34 campsites, a combination of 15 tent only, 14 lean-tos, and 5 tent/RVs. Most sites are walk-in. The campground offers restrooms, hot and cold running water, and coin-operated showers.

Location, Hours, and Admission

Smugglers’ Notch State park is located at 6443 Mountain Road, Stowe, VT 05672. The season runs from mid-May until mid-October. Dogs are permitted in the park. Day use fee is $4.00 per adult and $2.00 per child (4-13).

Emerald Lake State Park

Emerald Lake State Park is located around the 20-acre Emerald Lake, and is considered one of the most beautiful state parks in Vermont, with opportunities for both water and land-based recreation.

Emerald Lake State Park is one of the best state parks in Vermont!
Paddle boats at Emerald Lake State Park

There are many hiking trails that criss-cross the park, offering ample opportunities to enjoy the woods around the lake. If you pick a trail that gets up above the lake, such as the Vista Trail, you can see for yourself why it’s called Emerald Lake!

Look for birds and wildlife as you walk. Hikers that want to sample the Long Trail and the Appalachian Trail will find access to both iconic trails nearby.

Emerald Lake State Park offers excellent fishing, with yellow perch, northern pike, and bass, among other species. You can also picnic at Emerald Lake State park, with picnic tables available on the hillside and by the water.

Want to enjoy the lake? You can also swim and paddle at Emerald Lake, which is restricted to non-motorized boats. There is a small snady swim area, and canoes, kayaks, rowboats, and paddle boats can be rented.

Camping in Emerald Lake State Park

The Emerald Lake State Park campground is located on a hillside with beautiful aerial views of the lake, and offers 66 tent/RV campsites, plus 37 lean-tos.

The campground features restrooms, hot and cold running water, and coin-operated hot showers. There is a dump station, but no RV hookups.

Location, Hours, and Admission

Emerald Lake State Park is located at 65 Emerald Lake Lane, East Dorset, VT 05253. The season runs from around the end of May until the second Monday in October. Day use hours are from 10.00 a.m. until sunset.

Dogs are permitted in the park, but not on the beach, or in day use areas.

Day use fee is $4.00 per adult and $2.00 per child (4-13).

Half Moon Pond State Park

Half Moon Pond State Park is actually located within Bomoseen State Park, a larger parcel of land owned by the state. Half Moon Pond State Park contains one of the two campgrounds in the larger park.

Located on the 20-acre Half Moon Pond, the park offers lots of water-based activities, including non-motorized boating and fishing. You can rent canoes, kayaks, pedal boats, or row boats for an active time out on the water.

In the summer, you can enjoy swimming here: there are two small sandy beaches, where you can also sunbathe.

On land, go hiking and mountain biking, enjoy horseshoes and volleyball, and look for birds and animals: white-tailed deer, or, if you are lucky, a moose! Night sky observation is also great here. There is also a picnic area, and playground.

Hikes include the easy walk around the shore of Half Moon Pond, around 0.8 mile in length, or the forested hike to High Pond, about 1.6 miles in length. Look for water birds on these trails!

The park is near many other bodies of water, so if you are looking to swim or do motorized boating, you can drive to nearby spots: Bomoseen Lake offers motorized boats.

Camping in Half Moon Pond State Park

The Half Moon Pond State Park campground offers 63 campsites, including 11 lean-tos and 5 furnished cabins on the pond. Group camping is available as well.

The campground features flush toilets, coin-operated hot showers, and a dump station. Every campsite has a picnic table, fire ring, and grill.

Tall Timbers Cottage, available for rent, is on the water and offers a private deck.

Location, Hours, and Admission

Half Moon Pond State Park is located at 1621 Black Pond Rd, Hubbardton, VT 05743. The season runs from around the end of May until mid-October. Dogs are permitted in the park, but not in many of the cabins, or the cottage.

Day use fee is $4.00 per adult and $2.00 per child (4-13).

Button Bay State Park

Named for the button-shaped clay deposits found along the shoreline, Button Bay State Park is located on a bluff along the shore of Lake Champlain.

Button Point State Park in Vermont
Button Point

There are hiking and biking trails in the park, with fabulous views of Lake Champlain, the Adirondack Mountains, and the Green Mountains. The walk to Button Point, where the nature center is located, is lovely. The nature center offers guided hikes: some at night.

The park is on the Lake Champlain Bikeway that goes around the lake and the Richelieu River in Quebec. The section around Button Bay State Park is a particularly popular family biking route.

Fishing and boating are other fun activities to enjoy at Button Bay State park. There are kayak rentals available, and there is an enclosed swimming pool if you plan to camp with kids.

Camping in Button Bay State Park

The Button Bay State Park campground offers 53 tent/RV campsites, 13 lean-tos, and 4 furnished cabins. Campsites ar mainly located on an open grassy area overlooking the lake.

The campground features flush toilets, coin-operated hot showers, and a dump station. There are picnic areas in the campground.

Location, Hours, and Admission

Button Bay State Park is located at 5 Button Bay State Park Rd., Ferrisburgh, VT 05491. The season runs from around the end of May until the second Monday in October. Day use hours are from 10.00 a.m. until sunset.

Dogs are permitted in the park, but not in most of the cabins, or the swim area or shelter.

Day use fee is $4.00 per adult and $2.00 per child (4-13).

Mt. Ascutney State Park

Mount Ascutney is a super popular Vermont hiking destination, with one of the first mountain hiking trails in the state created here in 1825. Mount Ascutney State Park, established during the Depression, is one of the oldest state parks in Vermont.

Forested trail in Mt. Ascutney State Park PC: Miguel Vieira/Wikimedia CC BY-SA 2.0

There are more than 12 miles of hiking trails in the park, with four trailheads. On nice weather days, many of the trails offer spectacular views of the Connecticut River Valley along the route to the observation tower at the top.

The observation tower is 24.5 feet tall, and offers panoramic views over the surrounding areas. Along the trails, you will also see historic relics like old homesteads and quarries, and the remnants of old logging operations.

You can also drive up part of the way: the Mt. Ascutney Parkway is a 3.7-mile road to a parking area about 2,800 feet above sea level. From here, you can hike to the summit if you like: the Slot and Slab Trails lead to the top. The Slab is the easier route.

Mount Ascutney State Park is also known for its hang gliding sites. Hang gliding within the park mainly occurs at the South Peak launch site. Other than hiking, scenic driving, and hang gliding, you can also enjoy picnicking in the park.

Camping in Mount Ascutney State Park

The Mount Ascutney State Park campground offers 38 wooded tent/RV campsites, plus 10 lean-tos and 5 furnished cabins.

The campground features flush toilets, and coin-operated hot showers. There is a dump station for RVs but no hookups.

Location, Hours, and Admission

Mount Ascutney State Park is located at 1826 Back Mountain Rd, Windsor, VT 05089. The season runs from mid-May until mid-October. Day use hours are from 10.00 a.m. until sunset. Dogs are permitted in the park, and also in some cabins.

Day use fee is $4.00 per adult and $2.00 per child (4-13).

Mt. Philo State Park

Vermont’s very first state park, Mt. Philo State Park is spread over 200+ acres at the top of Mount Philo, which is 968 feet tall.

A view from the summit of Mt. Philo at Mount Philo State Park in Vermont
A view from the top of Mt. Philo!

This gem of a park features stunning views of the Adirondack Mountains of New York, the Green Mountains, and the Lake Champlain Valley.

Mt. Philo State Park offers excellent hiking, picnicking, wildlife viewing, and birdwatching. The scenic environs make for a really relaxing getaway, whether you visit for the day or camp overnight. Just note that summer weekends can be very busy!

The summit road allows you to drive to the top, or, if you’re up for the challenge, hike the trail to the top: it’s about 0.75 mile one way. Look for moose and white-tailed deer, raptors, and a variety of land birds.

The House Rock Trail is a wooded one-mile trail that ascends about 500 feet. Devil’s Chair is a more challenging trail that runs alongside a cliff.

Camping in Mount Philo State Park

The Mount Philo State Park campground is small. It offers 7 tent campsites in the trees, plus 3 lean-tos.

The campground features restrooms, and coin-operated hot showers. There is a picnic table and fire pit.

Location, Hours, and Admission

Mount Philo State Park is located at 5425 Humphreys Rd, Charlotte, VT 05445. The season runs from around the end of May until mid-October for camping and to the end of October for day use. Day use hours are from 8.00 a.m. until sunset. Dogs are permitted in the park.

Day use fee is $4.00 per adult and $2.00 per child (4-13).

Little River State Park

Located on the lovely Waterbury Reservoir, Little River State Park is part of the Mount Mansfield State Forest. It is an excellent Vermont camping getaway, with both water and land-based activities amidst scenic surroundings.

Little River State Park in Vermont
Little River State Park PC: Amy/Wikimedia CC BY-SA 2.0

The land here was once settled, but floods and the demanding landscape forced residents to abandon their homes and farms. Today you can still see the remains of old roads and bridges, and the last house that’s still standing.

You can enjoy a plethora of activities in Little River State Park, from hiking, biking, wildlife viewing, and picnicking to swimming, boating, and paddling for campers, and fishing. Day trippers can swim and boat at Waterbury Center State Park, about 8.5 miles away.

There are numerous hiking trails to explore, and you can cobble together a number of trails for longer day hikes. Some trails have interpretive plaques. The Stevenson Brook Trail is a pleasant wooded walk along a stream, with intermittent bridge crossings.

Camping in Little River State Park

The Little River State Park campground is one of the largest and most popular campgrounds in Vermont. It offers 81 tent/RV campsites, plus 20 lean-tos, and five cabins. Some sites are on the water. The park also offers remote camping.

The campground features restrooms, hot and cold running water, and coin-operated hot showers. There is a dump station, but no RV hookups.

The campground offers many amenities, from swimming beaches to play areas and ball fields, a boat launch, and boat rentals for campers.

Location, Hours, and Admission

Little River State Park is located at 3444 Little River Rd., Waterbury, Vermont 05676. The season runs from around the third week of May until the third week of October. Dogs are permitted in the park, but not on beaches or in swim areas. Only one cabin is pet-friendly.

Day use fee is $4.00 per adult and $2.00 per child (4-13).

Alburgh Dunes State Park

Featuring one of the longest beaches on Lake Champlain, Alburgh Dunes State Park is a day-use only park named for the sand dunes that run along the center and western portions of the beach. The beach is a natural sand beach.

The beach at Alburgh Dunes State Park
The sandy beach at Alburgh Dunes SP

The dunes have protective fencing around them, to save them from erosion and to protect the fragile vegetation the ecosystem nurtures, including the rare Champlain beach grass.

Behind the beach, the wetlands offer habitat for many species of birds and wildlife, including deer and wild turkeys. Bring your binoculars or zoom lens and enjoy viewing and photographing wildlife!

Enjoy sunbathing on the sandy beach, swimming, wading — the water is shallow for a bit!, floats and rafts, and picnicking. There are grills in the picnic area. The beach also makes for a nice stroll. Boats are allowed in the park, but there are no rentals.

There is a beach road open to bikes and pedestrians that runs between the dunes and the wetland. This road makes for an excellent walk. Walk up the beach road and return via the beach, or vice versa.

Note that there is no potable drinking water in the park, so remember to bring your own! Also, the restrooms are portable stalls. There are changing stalls as well.

Location, Hours, and Admission

Alburgh Dunes State Park is located at 151 Coon Point Road, Alburgh, VT 05440. The season runs from around the end of May until Labor Day weekend. Day use hours are from 10.00 a.m. until sunset. Dogs are not permitted in the park.

Day use fee is $4.00 per adult and $2.00 per child (4-13).

Woodford State Park

Located on a plateau around Adams Reservoir, Woodford State Park is the highest-elevation state park in Vermont. Covered with fir, spruce, and birch forests, the park is a “hidden gem” leaf-peeping location in the fall, not explosive, but still beautiful.

Fall colors at Woodford State Park in Vermont
Fall at Woodford State Park

The park borders the George Aiken Wilderness Area, in the Green Mountain National Forest, so there are opportunities to explore beyond the park if you plan to overnight. Enjoy wildlife viewing and birdwatching both in the park and in the wilderness area beyond.

The area offers many hiking trails, but the peaceful 2.7-mile trail around the sparkling Adams Reservoir is a must-do, especially in the fall when leaf colors reflect in the water. Fishing in the reservoir, picnicking, and swimming (there’s a swimming beach) are other activities to enjoy.

You can also rent kayaks, canoes, or paddle boats from the park in the summer, and enjoy snowshoe hikes or cross-country skiing in the winter.

Camping in Woodford State Park

The Woodford State Park campground offers 83 tent/RV campsites, plus 20 lean-tos, and four cabins. Some sites are on the water.

The campground features restrooms, hot and cold running water, and coin-operated hot showers. There is a dump station, but no RV hookups.

Location, Hours, and Admission

Woodford State Park is located at 142 State Park Road, Bennington, VT 05201. The season runs from around the end of May until the second Monday in October. Day use hours are from 10.00 a.m. until sunset.

Dogs are permitted in the park, but not on beaches or in swim areas. Only one cabin is pet-friendly.

Day use fee is $4.00 per adult and $2.00 per child (4-13).

Jamaica State Park

Jamaica State Park is located on the West River, near the town of Jamaica. The river flow is controlled by the Ball Mountain Dam, and the park offers scenic hiking and camping.

The hike to Hamilton Falls is very popular. The hike is 3 miles each way from the state park. The first couple of miles are flat and the trail runs alongside the creek. The last mile to the beautiful falls is rocky and narrow.

Hamilton Falls is one of the largest waterfalls in Vermont, so the hike is very worthwhile if you are up for it. Swimming at the falls is not advised, due to slippery rocks and dangerous currents.

There are many other trails to explore in the park. You can hike up to the base (or the top!) of the Ball Mountain Dam, or to the Cobb Brook Bridge.

Other than hiking, you can go swimming in the designated swimming area, picnicking, or fishing. Whitewater kayaking events are held at specific times during the year, when water is released from the dam.

Camping in Jamaica State Park

The Jamaica State Park campground offers 41 tent/RV campsites, plus 18 lean-to sites.

The campground features restrooms, hot and cold running water, and coin-operated hot showers. There is a picnic area for campers.

Location, Hours, and Admission

Jamaica State Park is located at 48 Salmon Hole Lane, Jamaica, VT 05343. The season runs from around the end of April until the second Monday in October. Day use hours are 10.00 a.m. until sunset.

Dogs are permitted in the park, other than in the Salmon Hole swimming area.

Day use fee is $4.00 per adult and $2.00 per child (4-13).

Elmore State Park

A park that started with a gift of 30 acres to the state in 1936 is today more than 700 acres, a beautiful state park on the shore of Lake Elmore. Fall colors here are beautiful, especially when reflected in the water.

Elmore State Park in Vermont
Beautiful and peaceful Lake Elmore!

There are hiking trails that lead from the park to the summit of Elmore Mountain and the fire tower at the top. You can climb the fire tower for great views of the surrounding areas. Also don’t miss Balancing Rock on the Ridge Trail!

You can go swimming in the lake: there is a large sandy swimming beach, and the water is cool and clear, with shallows for wading. Sunbathing on the beach is fun as well.

Or rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard to get out onto the water! Enjoy picnics with views of the water. A concession stand sells ice cream in the summer.

Camping in Elmore State Park

The Elmore State Park campground offers 44 tent/RV campsites, plus 15 lean-to sites.

The campground features restrooms, hot and cold running water, and coin-operated hot showers.

Location, Hours, and Admission

Elmore State Park is located at 856 VT Route 12, Lake Elmore, VT 05657. The season runs from around the end of May until the second Monday in October. Day use hours are 10.00 a.m. until sunset.

Dogs are permitted in the park, other than on the beach.

Day use fee is $4.00 per adult and $2.00 per child (4-13).

Burton Island State Park

Accessible only by boat, Burton Island State Park is located in the southwest part of St. Albans Point along Lake Champlain. The car-free island is a popular destination for families.

You can arrive in your own boat, or use the Island Runner passenger ferry that runs from Kill Kare State Park through the season.

The ferry ride is just 10 minutes, and very convenient if you plan to visit for the day. If you plan to camp, you can pay to have your gear delivered to your site, or transport it in carts.

Burton Island State park features about four miles of shoreline, and offers hiking trails , a disc golf course, and a nature center and museum. You can swim at the beach or paddle the lake: non-motorized rentals are offered.

Camping in Burton Island State Park

The Burton Island State Park campground offers 14 tent campsites, plus 26 lean-to sites, 4 remote tent sites, and 3 cabins. There are 15 boat moorings.

The campground features restrooms, hot and cold running water, and coin-operated hot showers.

The Burton Island Bistro serves breakfast and lunch, with cold salads and other to-go items. The store also sells camping supplies, beer, wine, and ice.

Location, Hours, and Admission

The Kill Kare ferry access for Burton Island State Park is located at 2714 Hathaway Point Rd, St. Albans, VT 05481. The season runs from around the end of May until around the middle of September. Day use hours are 10.00 a.m. until sunset.

Dogs are permitted in the park.

Day use fee is $4.00 per adult and $2.00 per child (4-13).

Kingsland Bay State Park

Located on the scenic shores of Lake Champlain, Kingsland Bay State Park encompasses 264 acres, much of it left natural. The day-use only park contains Hawley House, a historic home that dates back to 1790, and other historic sites.

Kingsland Bay State Park in Vermont
Trilliums in bloom at Kingsland Bay State Park

Kingsland Bay State Park is a popular family day trip destination, but it’s also great for couples and solo travelers looking to relax for a few hours amidst picturesque surroundings.

There are scenic trails along the lake shore to walk. The wooded trails offer shade on warm days. If you enjoy birdwatching, bring your binoculars or zoom lens: you’ll see lots of species at this known birding spot.

The grassy lawns make for lovely areas to relax or have a picnic. Go swimming or fishing in the lake. The beach area is mainly rocks, so wear water shoes!

Enjoy boating and sailing Lake Champlain. You can rent kayaks or canoes, or stand-up paddleboards, to get out onto the water. The bay is protected and makes for a lovely paddle.

Location, Hours, and Admission

Kingsland Bay State Park is located at 787 Kingsland Bay State Park Rd., Ferrisburgh, VT 05456. The season runs from around the end of May until the second Monday in October. Day use hours are 10.00 a.m. until sunset.

Pets are not permitted at this park.

Day use fee is $4.00 per adult and $2.00 per child (4-13).

Grand Isle State Park

Grand Isle, also called South Hero Island, is the largest island in Lake Champlain. Open to campers only, Grand Isle State Park is the most popular campground in the Vermont State Parks system. Knight Point and Sand Bar State Parks on the island are open for day use.

Grand Isle State Park is located on the shore of the lake, allowing for both water and land activities. You can go boating, kayaking, or canoeing on the lake, swim, or fish.

The shoreline of the park includes open areas that serve as beaches for swimming and fishing from the shore, as well as more rocky areas if you wish to go exploring.

On land, you can have picnics, or go hiking and biking. You can also enjoy wildlife viewing and birdwatching. The campground offers horseshoes and sand court volleyball, as well as a play area for kids.

Campers at Great Isle State Park also have free entry to the beaches at Knight Point State Park and Alburgh Dunes State Park, both also along Lake Champlain.

Camping in Grand Isle State Park

The Grand Isle State Park campground offers 115 tent/RV campsites, and 36 lean-to sites. There are four cottages available to rent.

The campground features restrooms, hot and cold running water, and coin-operated hot showers. There is a dump station, but no RV hookups.

Location, Hours, and Admission

Grand Isle State Park is located at 36 East Shore South, Grand Isle, VT 05458. The season runs from mid-May until mid-October.

Dogs are permitted in the park, other than in designated swimming area, and in most cabins.

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Planning a trip to New England? If you enjoy natural areas, you’ll want to check out our other guides!

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