Vermont State Parks open for the season
ELMORE, Vt. (WCAX) - Memorial Day weekend is the kickoff to summer and that means Vermont State Parks are back open.
“Isn’t Vermont just one big park itself? I like that analogy, but you just have to experience it yourself,” said Nate McKeen, the director of Vermont State Parks.
In 2021, well over 1 million people did. “We haven’t seen those numbers since the early ‘80s,” McKeen said. This year, he says they are geared up for another stellar year. “We’ve learned a lot certainly through COVID and through the last two years, and I think we are coming out of it even better. But, you can expect a pre-COVID experience.”
As well as pre-COVID numbers, officials estimate they are already 10% ahead of last year. Bolstering those numbers is visits from our neighbors to the north. “Canadian border is opened back up. They are coming. They have made reservations, and we know we are going to be busy welcoming them back which will be wonderful,” said McKeen.
McKeen spent the morning with our Kevin Gaiss at Elmore State Park, a popular spot in Lamoille County with a stellar waterfront and fire tower hike. He says one goal this year for the parks is to welcome new visitors because nature is for everyone. “Folks who typically wouldn’t have experienced a park in their day-to-day life where they are from, or where they grew up. I think that’s a really good growth opportunity for us,” said McKeen.
He is also reminding folks to respect nature while they are out, practicing the pack in/pack out philosophy. He says it’s also important for folks to take health precautions including not overexerting themselves and staying hydrated. The parks will be offering sunscreen again thanks to a program in partnership with the health department.
But personally, McKeen is offering Vermonters and visitors alike, a new challenge to try a new one. “I am really trying to encourage folks to try a new park this year and there is a really nice park in every corner of the state. We have 55 spread all over so what you think is really special about your favorite park is definitely really special, but there are really special things about a lot of other parks, as well, so I am encouraging folks to try something new this year,” said McKeen.
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