Best Places for Fall Camping in Vermont

Vermont offers every conceivable comfort level when it comes to camping—from remote backpacking to comfortable lean-tos at state parks to RV hookup campgrounds with laundry facilities.

As fall leaves start to pop, turning the Green Mountains to hues of golden amber, many campgrounds close down, and hunting seasons open, but there are still several great destinations for camping in the state.

By far, the best camping in the state is at Vermont State Parks. There are more than 55 state parks scattered throughout all regions of the state, and more than half offer camping from Memorial Day to Labor Day each year. A handful of campgrounds operate through Columbus Day weekend, a select five are open for camping through mid-October, and some places to camp are even open year-round.

Rules for State Parks After November 1

After October 14, state parks officially close across the state of Vermont. However, on November 1, all Vermont State Parks begin their winter seasons, with free access and Leave No Trace rules in effect.

During this time, parking is only available outside of the main gates (as the gates are locked) and off of any roads connected to the park. There is no running water nor restrooms, and hunting is permitted in the parks, so precautions should be taken.

A few of the Vermont State Parks offer remote camping during the autumn season—the best are found by mountain lakes, with rustic lean-to sites accessible by canoe, kayak, or a hike. Osmore Pond and Kettle Pond, both with registration at New Discovery State Park in the Groton State Forest, offer pristine carry in, carry out (both trash and water) campsites. Farther north in Hyde Park, water-access remote campsites can also be found at Green River Reservoir.

The Vermont State Parks ask interested campers to submit a request for off-season camping. Remote camping at Vermont State Parks ends Columbus Day weekend but then opens back up again November 1 with the same Off-Season Camping requirements.

  • 01 of 10
    Underhill State Park Green Mountains, VT

     Ron_Thomas/Getty Images

    You can hike to Vermont's highest peak and witness the most dramatic fall foliage views at Underhill State Park, which is located within the 39,837-acre Mount Mansfield State Forest. Four summit ridge trails begin in the park, making for multiple routes in and out for a variety of round-trip hiking options. There are also two group camping areas, plus additional individual sites only accessible by hiking to them, including 11 tent sites and six lean-tos. The Underhill State Park is open from Memorial Day weekend through October 15, 2018.

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    Gifford Woods State Park

    Gifford Woods State Park/Wikimedia Commons 

    Conveniently situated between the Appalachian and Long Trails, Gifford Woods State Park contains 21 tent and trailer sites, 19 lean-tos, and four cabins. You can explore a rare patch of old-growth hardwood trees or take in some of the best of the state's fall colors, especially along the base of Killington and Pico Mountains, where deciduous trees lose their leaves by late October. The 1.1-mile Kent Brook Trail loop provides easy access to the Appalachian Trail, and there is a picnicking area for public use located behind the ranger's quarters. ​

    You can camp at Gifford Woods State Park during the regular season from May 18 to October 15, 2018.

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    Smuggler's Notch State Park

    Smuggler's Notch State Park/Wikimedia Commons 

    Located in Stowe near Bingham Fall in Northern Vermont, Smugglers' Notch State Park has 20 tent sites and 14 lean-tos available for camping this fall. Named after the nearby Smuggler's Notch—a historic 1,000-foot narrow pass that separates Mount Mansfield (the highest peak in the Green Mountain range) from Spruce Peak and the Sterling Ridge—this state park provides a pristine, mountainous environment of its own, with close access to the bright fall foliage of Stowe.

    Camping season for Smuggler's Notch State Park runs from May 17 to October 19, 2018.

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    The Dam, Quechee State Park

     Evelyn Proimos/Flickr

    The campground at Quechee State Park sits on the site of the former recreation area of a woolen mill, which was powered by the waters flowing through Quechee Gorge, Vermont's deepest canyon. Quechee's Connecticut River Valley location and proximity to the waters of the 165-foot gorge below Route 4 on the Ottauquechee River offer breathtaking foliage views. The campground is spread amongst stunning pine trees and equipped with 45 tent and trailer sites and seven lean-tos. You can access campsites without advanced reservations at Quechee State Park from May 18 to October 15, 2018.

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  • 05 of 10
    USA, VERMONT, WEST WINDSOR, MT ASCUTNEY

    Geoffrey Clifford/Getty Images 

    Mount Ascutney State Park in Windsor, Vermont, features some of the very best stonework crafted by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. A summit road and meandering trail lead to the park's famous fire tower, and the entire park offers panoramic views, especially from the summit of Mount Ascutney. There is also a hang-gliding launch point and wooded campsites including 39 tent and trailer sites and 10 lean-tos. Mount Ascutney State Park is open from May 21 to October 15, 2018.

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    Green Mountain National Forest, Vermont, United States, New England, North America

     Mark Newman/Getty Images

    For completely uninterrupted access, camping in the Green Mountain National Forest is available year-round and for no fee. Silver Lake is a secluded, mile-long lake located past the Falls of Lana on Route 53 between Brandon and Middlebury, with primitive hike-in or mountain bike-accessible campsites dispersed around its shores. In Southern Vermont, Grout Pond in West Wardsboro sits in a 1,600-acre recreation area, with walk-in campsites and a few sites accessible by canoe.

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    Taconic Mountain Range, Columbia County, NY

     Barry Winiker/Getty Images

    Merck Forest and Farmland Center in the Taconic Mountain range in Rupert, Vermont, offers an impressive collection of rustic cabins available year-round. All cabins are hike-in, come equipped with woodstoves, and require a two-night minimum stay. Tent sites and shelters are also scattered around the 3,100 acres of sustainably managed and preserved working landscape.

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    For a unique experience, you can rent out one of two 24-foot yurts at Maple Wind Farm. Located 25 miles southeast of Burlington in Huntington, these unique camping accommodations comfortably sleep up to 10 people and offer a special way to spend the night near the Long Trail and Catamount Trail. There's ample parking available at the farm, and the yurts are located in a distant corner of the property, which takes about 10 minutes walking or skiing.

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  • 09 of 10

    Mountain bikers can pedal the Millstone Hill Trails, a 1,500-acre, single-track system in and around abandoned granite quarries in the woods of Barre, Vermont. While only really accessible by mountain bike (or long-distance hike), visitors can camp for the night in a collection of tent sites on the property, which will be available through the end of October.

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    South Hero Vermont Sugar Maple and house.

    denisbin/Flickr 

    Apple Island Resort in South Hero, Vermont, is an RV camping resort acting as the gateway to the Champlain Islands, a hidden gem in Vermont's northwest corner. The resort caters to large RVs but also offers campsites, cabins, and cottages. The view of Lake Champlain is second to none, and camping runs through October 20, which is later than many other RV-type campgrounds. Plus, this one has a golf course.