Opening weekend for camping at Vermont State Parks

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HUBBARDTON, Vt. (WCAX) Friday, June 26, marks the first day people can start camping in Vermont State Parks.

"I've already had a few phone calls today asking if we have some sites available for the weekend and... sorry, not until Sunday," said Jessica Hurley of Half Moon Pond State Park.

Campers are jumping at the opportunity.

State parks typically open in mid-May, but because of the coronavirus, parks are opening this week at 75% capacity.

Director of Vermont State Parks Craig Whipple says because of out-of-state and big group cancellations, no prior reservations had to be canceled.

Whipple also says weekends are filling up fast, but there is more availability during the week. To secure your spot this summer, plan far in advance.

Renee Gordon of Bennington and her family are veteran Vermont State Park campers, but they have never been to Half Moon Pond State Park.

"If it hadn't been for COVID we might have gone to Maine or a different state. This has made us stay closer to home and see what Vermont has to offer," Gordon said.

She says they feel confident in keeping their distance from others. The parks have also added extra signs giving visitors information to help stop the spread of the virus while camping.

Sharon and Gerry Viens of Colchester say they're not scared, you just have to take the precautions and make sure you're doing everything you can. They have been coming to this park for more than 30 years. They said they were happy to be there and have a break from reality.

Cabins, cottages and event halls are still closed, but bathrooms are open. Staffers are taking extra precautions to clean bathrooms and capacity is limited.

"So far, people have been completely understanding and respectful," said Jessica Hurley of Half Moon Pond State Park.

Whipple says the relationship between visitors and the park is more important than ever. Everyone needs to make sure to do their part to ensure a COVID outbreak does not happen at a state park. Whipple says if one does, then services may be forced to shut down.