Vermont Campgrounds, whether in State Parks or through public sites, offer a wide variety of camping experiences, from the primitive to “glamping” (camping + glamour). There are drive-in campsites, lean-to’s, cabins, cottages, remote campsites, group camping areas, and even an inn-style lodge, all surrounded by Vermont’s beautiful mountains, lakes, forests and fields. The hardest thing you’ll have to do won’t be finding the perfect campground. The hardest thing will be choosing the perfect campground!
About Vermont Campgrounds
If you’re new to camping, the terms used to describe a Vermont campground or campsite may seem strange, so here’s a quick primer on what’s what:
Lean-to: A lean-to is a 3-sided structure that can accommodate up to 8 people. Lean-tos are excellent for sheltering campers from wind and rain, keeping your gear dry or adding an extra layer of protection from the sun. Lean-to sites come with a fire ring (or fireplace) with grill and a picnic table. Not every campground or site will have a lean-to, but you’re in luck if yours does. Feel free to move the picnic table into the lean-to, or just set up your tents inside. If you have an RV, the lean-to makes a great outdoor kitchen as well. In most Vermont campgrounds the lean-to dimensions are:
- Floor is 13’4″ wide, 9’3″ deep
- Front opening is 7’5″ inches high, 13’4″ wide
- The lowest height (at the back of the lean-to) is 4’3″
Camping cabins tend to be one-room units with multiple beds (twin) that can sleep four to six people comfortably. Amenities include bunk beds and a futon or sleeper couch (linens, blankets, and towels not included) a table and two chairs, an overhead light and an electric outlet. There is also a covered front porch, picnic table and a fire ring with cooking grate.
Cooking is done outside, so remember to bring your own cookware. Bathrooms and showers are located within easy walking distance.
Cottages are different from cabins in that they have multiple rooms which sleep four to six comfortably. They also include all the necessary furnishings. They typically have one to two beds, one or more bunk beds, a sleeper couch or futon and bureaus. Pillows, blankets, linens and towels are not provided. Each cottage has electricity, heat, indoor kitchen with refrigerator, stove, freezer, toaster or toaster oven, microwave, coffee maker, cookware, sink and indoor bathroom with toilet and shower. The common area includes tables and chairs.
These lodges range from luxurious hotel type rooms, to rustic, but luxurious cabins. If you’re looking for a more civilized camping experience, these are your go-to accomodations.
Group camping sites are designated for groups of 8 or more people with a 4 people per site minimum. Some groups have a maximum number (20-120+), others do not. To reserve a group site you must generally make a reservation and fill out a form. Groups must be supervised by at least one adult who shall be responsible for activities and the behavior of group, whether the group is adolescents or adults. Facilities vary from site to site. Some group areas are simply large parking lots of grass or gravel, others may have shelters and picnic tables. Some have great parking, others require groups hike in, or limit the number of cars parked on the site. Check with each campground to determine what you are reserving and what the rules and regulations are for that site.
RV and Tent sites
Tent/ RV sites come with a fire ring (or fireplace), a metal grill and a picnic table. Some sites are in the sun (on grassy terrain) while others are in the woods (often on gravel). Most tent or RV sites will accommodate up to 8 people. For a detailed description of a site, plus the RV length that site can accommodate, check out the specific park’s interactive map.
Remote sites differ from primitive camping in that the sites can be reserved and are located in designated areas. They may have a lean-to or space for a tent, a fireplace or fire ring, or picnic tables. However, sanitary facilities are minimal and there is no potable water supply. Remote sites offer great privacy, but it also means you have to paddle or hike with your gear and trash. Do not bring anything you are not prepared to carry in and carry out. Each remote site has a designated occupancy based on the characteristics of each site. A reservation is generally required. Some sites may be available on a first come, first served basis. Please call the specific park for details.
Primitive camping is available in state forests and at some undeveloped state parks. It is not car camping—you must backpack in at least 1,000 feet from any road to set up your camp. There is no public drinking water or toilet facilities, no reservations or assigned sites. Vermont does not offer free, dispersed car camping on its state lands.
- Camping must be at least 100 feet away from any stream or body of water.
- Must be 200 feet away from any trail or property line.
- Must be 1,000 feet away from any traveled road.
- Camping above 2,500 feet in elevation is prohibited unless otherwise designated.
Unlike many states, Vermont has an active campground association to help campers plan and enjoy their camping stay in Vermont. Called the Vermont Campground Association (VCA) VCA members include most private campgrounds and all State Parks which offer camping. With more than 100 VCA member campgrounds, the association offers information about a wide variety of facilities and experiences for camping in the Green Mountain State.
Note: the State Parks, in keeping with their rustic atmosphere, do not have RV hookups at their campsites. However, dumping stations are available and RV’s are welcome.
Vermont is separated into three zones or regions for campers—North, South, and Central. Each region has its own unique appeal and attractions.
Northern Vermont Camping
On the region’s western edge, along the shores of Lake Champlain, is Burlington: the state’s largest, most lively city. Burlington is chock-full of microbrews, the arts and marketplace shopping and events for every interest almost every weekend. If you love water, or fishing, you’re also in the right place. Vermont’s largest body of water, Lake Champlain, is also in the northern region. If you thrive on water sports you’ll enjoy sailing, swimming, fishing and floating on Lake Champlain. Weekly farmers’ markets feature seasonal produce, artisan cheese and local wines in their offering well past the harvest season.
The western side of the mountain range at this end of the state reveals even more lakes and beautiful agricultural scenery with mountain views from every vista. Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak, reigns supreme and challenges day trippers as well as Appalachian Trail through hikers.
Drive an hour or two east and you’re deep in the heart of the Northeast Kingdom, the state’s least developed and most remote region. On the eastern side of the Green Mountains, the Kingdom consists of three rural counties boasting lakes, ponds, rivers and streams for days filled with plentiful fishing, silent exploration in a kayak or canoe, or motor boating. Road and mountain bikers will enjoy the challenging Kingdom Trails, some of the finest bike routes and trails of varying length and skill level nationwide. If you want to get away from the wilderness for a few hours, there’s Jay Peak Resort Pump House – an indoor water park where you can surf, climb, or float the Big River. And, if you want to tee it up, there’s a variety of golf courses to challenge every golfer’s game.
One of the most popular adventures for visitors, is simply driving and exploring Northern Vermont’s mill towns, covered bridges, grand Victorian architecture and Civil War history. No specific destination needed. The province of Quebec is close by, so a day trip to Montreal is easy, and you’re back by the nightly campfire.
Central Vermont Camping
Central Vermont is home to the state’s agriculture. It’s in this part of the state visitors find a bounty of diverse products, from award winning cheddar and ice cream to Vermont’s iconic maple syrup, handcrafted wood furniture, and quarried marble.
The Connecticut River lazily meanders along the eastern border of the state providing access points for fishing and boating as well as camping. Quechee Gorge, known as “Vermont’s Little Grand Canyon,” impresses visitors with its majesty, while scenic Route 100, fondly termed the Skier’s Highway, meanders along the mountain ranges from Mount Ellen to Killington then southward to Okemo. The Long Trail, Vermont’s end to end hiking journey, parallels Rte. 100 to the west crossing the mountain peaks as the Appalachian Trail branches off and winds easterly to the Connecticut River. Explore Lake Pleiad and the Middlebury Gap, and the Robert Frost National Historic Landmark and rustic wooden writing cabin where the famed American poet found his inspiration.
Summer and fall in Central Vermont mean numerous craft, art and antique shows, flea markets, agricultural fairs and field days that are happening in this region. State and private campgrounds in this region are varied and plentiful, from the smallest with primitive sites or campgrounds integrated within a working farm, to the larger resorts with all the amenities, including lake access for refreshing opportunities to swim, fish or boat. Bicyclists can follow scenic back roads through quiet villages, or hikers and bikers can explore the mountain trails at numerous offseason ski resorts. There’s hiking, paddling, bird-watching, and rock climbing, corn mazes and adventure races, and even four wheeling ATV tours.
Visitors to the smallest region of the state will find a very diverse landscape. From the Connecticut River on the eastern border to the Battenkill River on the western edge of the state, water flows and frames the region. Swimming, boating and world renowned fly-fishing are all readily accessible to the camper in Southern Vermont. The West River cuts a centerline through the region, flowing southeast, and routinely challenges white-water rafters for cherished heart-pounding adventures, particularly in the late spring/early summer following a bountiful snow season.
Quaint, quiet villages abound at this end of the state. Discover old-time country stores like the Vermont Country Store in Weston with gadgets and gizmos, quirky antiques and penny candy, or pop into a local crafts fair. Visit the makers of handcrafted artisanal aged cheddar cheese in Grafton village and pair your selections with fresh bread, Vermont products and a bottle of wine for an impromptu picnic. Attend a performance at a summer playhouse, or tour museums such as Hildene, the Lincoln Family 24-room Georgian Revival Mansion in Manchester, and historic sites such as the Bennington Battle Monument where in 1777 General John Stark, aided by the Green Mountain Boys, defeated the King of England’s troops.
If you enjoy day trips that allow you to enjoy a morning and evening at your campsite, but mid-day adventures close to your campground, you won’t be disappointed. Head up Route 100 as it travels up the center of the region. In the fall the colorful “peak” views visually stun visitors during the fall foliage season (mid-October). Summer or fall, the scenery of the surrounding Green Mountains, New York’s Adirondacks to the west and the Berkshires to the south as you climb Mount Equinox’s auto toll road to the summit are a visual feast for photographers and non-photographers alike. If you want to park and explore, Mount Snow, Stratton, and Bromley Mountain resorts encourage visitors to explore on foot, via mountain bike, atop a chairlift and/or gondola, or even ‘seated’ in an alpine slide or zip line.
If you want to get in some shopping while you’re out, Manchester is a town filled with dozens of outlet stores, sure to appeal to any bargain-hunter and dedicated shopper. Golfing enthusiasts can find many challenging and enjoyable courses here. Cyclists can travel the many back roads to quietly enjoy the countryside or tackle the challenge of mountain trails at a host of ski resorts, some with lift-served access to the summit for heart-racing descents.
Whichever region of the state you decide to explore, you’ll find campgrounds that provide a warm, welcoming base to it from.
Best Vermont Campgrounds
There are hundreds of campgrounds, and thousands of campsites throughout Vermont, but these Campgrounds get a strong thumbs up from a majority of visitors:
Coolidge State Forest and Campground
855 Coolidge State Park Rd.
Plymouth, VT 05056
Coolidge State Forest contains a total of 16,166 acres scattered throughout seven towns, and is divided by Route 100 into two districts. The recreational center of the forest is Coolidge State Park, which consists of about 500 acres in the eastern district. The park includes a campground, picnic area, and an established hiking trail system.
There are 36 lean-to sites and 26 tent/RV sites arranged in two camping loops. Four restrooms providing flush toilets and hot water, two of which have coin-operated hot showers. There is a large picnic shelter and a group camping area. Also a nature center, horseshoes and a play area. There is a sanitary dump station for RVs, but no hookups. There are also several hiking trail. The nature center, where visitors can learn about the history and wildlife of the area.The pavilion at Coolidge can seat up to 70 and offers great views
The picnic pavilion at Coolidge can be rented. This open pavilion seats up to 70 people and has electricity, grills, fireplaces, and picnic tables. The pavilion is accessible and a restroom is nearby. The cost is $100 to rent Friday – Sunday and FREE Monday – Thursday.
One of the most remote, but popular state parks in Vermont sits on the shores of one of the state’s cleanest lakes. Formed by glaciers, clear, deep and milfoil-free Maidstone Lake sits near the New Hampshire border in the Northeast Kingdom. Record-size lake trout and salmon swim in this 726-acre lake. Its waters plunge to 120 feet deep and are host to the ever popular loons who paddle the waters. Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, the park still has many of the original campsite fireplaces and a log cabin-style main building. The 34 tent and RV sites can get busy during holiday weekends but after Labor Day, it’s easy to pitch a tent at one of the quieter sites right by the lake (or in one of the 37 lean-tos) and feel like you have the place to yourself. You can rent canoes and kayaks at Maidstone or bring your own. It’s less than an hour’s drive to the Silvio Conte Wildlife Refuge, Lake Willoughby or the Connecticut River.
There are restrooms with flush toilets and hot and cold running water, and two of the three restrooms include coin-operated hot showers. A sanitary dump station is available, but there are no hookups. There are play areas, hiking trails, and swimming beaches in the campground. A swimming beach and an additional restroom is available at the day use area.
The park also has a picnic pavilion that can be rented. The pavilion seats up to 35 people and has a fireplace, picnic tables, and a restroom nearby. There is no electricity, but the pavilion is universally accessible. The cost is $100 to rent (Fri – Sun) and FREE Mon – Thu.
Allis State Park Campground
At the summit of Bald Mountain (the third-highest peak in the region and one of many peaks by the same name in the state) stands a watchtower overlooking the Kingdom and New Hampshire’s White Mountains. While the Mad Brook Trail and the Long Pond Trail leading to the summit are great day hikes, at the top you can check into a restored cabin (it sleeps four) for an overnight camp. There are no reservations: it’s a first-come, first-served basis, so if sleeping on the summit is your goal, get there early and bring a tent as a backup. If hiking to your campsite is not your thing, don’t worry. There’s a campground at the bottom of the summit too.
The Allis campground has 18 tent/RV sites and 8 lean-to’s. There is a restroom with flush toilets, hot and cold running water and coin-operated hot showers. A sanitary dump station is available, but there are no hookups. There is also a secluded group camping area that can accommodate up to 24 people.
You can also rent the pavilion at Allis. This open log pavilion seats up to 100 people, has electricity, a restroom and is universally accessible. Grills and fireplaces are available for use as well as 9 picnic tables. Hiking loops are nearby too.
Explore Groton State Forest
One of Central Vermont’s gems, Groton State Forest spans some 26,164 acres. While the majority of the camping action is on two loops a quarter-mile apart in New Discovery State Park, you can escape the noise by heading to the neighboring Kettle or Osmore Ponds for one of fifteen remote campsites. The lakes are pristine and any neighbors will be at least half a mile away, but if you enjoy remote camping, you’ll love it. One lean-to on the site has the entire southern shore of Kettle Pond, meaning you’ll hear loons, not neighbors. Once you get your camp set up you’ll notice you’re at the entrance to the many miles of trails in the Groton State Forest, where you can hike, run, or mountain bike on multi-use trails, logging roads and abandoned powerline corridors. Popular nearby trails include the VAST Trail, the Cross Vermont Trail, and the Montpelier-Wells River Rail Trail.
Boulder Beach State Park
This park is located on the eastern shores of 423-acre Lake Groton. This day use area has 75 shaded picnic sites with tables and grills. There is 200 feet of beach and swimming area, a car top boat launch, play area, shelter with group facilities, three large parking lots, and a concession stand. All restrooms have lavatories and flush toilets. Day use fees are collected at Boulder Beach State Park from users that are not registered at a another state campground or other overnight park facility.
Kettle Pond State Park
This campground is located on the shores of Kettle Pond, an undeveloped pond. There are 26 lean-tos arranged into five separate groups designed to accommodate a variety of different organizations, such as scouts, churches, clubs or other social institutions. Two composting toilets, two double pit toilets and a hand pump well for drinking water. There is a swimming area, and miles of hiking and multiple use trails in Groton State Forest. Six remote campsites/lean-to’s on the pond are also available.
State Parks and Forests In Vermont
Vermont has 12 State Parks, seven State Forests, one National Forest, one National Wildlife Refuge, and one National Recreation Area. Depending on whether you want to boat, fish, hike, bike, or simply explore, there’s a perfect park for you:
State Parks in Vermont
State Forests in Vermont