(Host) Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer. This holiday weekend also marks the official opening of Vermont’s 52 state parks. The parks offer campgrounds, cool ponds for swimming and tree-lined trails for hiking. It will cost a little more to visit the parks this summer, but as VPR’s John Dillon reports, they’re still one of the state’s best bargains.
(Dillon) Just about everywhere in Vermont, there’s a state park around the corner or down the road. From Alburg Dunes on Lake Champlain to Woodford state park in the Green Mountains near Bennington, the parks are a haven for hiking, swimming and wildlife watching.
Fees for day visits to Vermont’s 52 state parks will go up on June 15. The per-person rate will rise from $2.50 to $3. A 10-visit punch pass goes up from $18 to $20. And a vehicle season’s pass – that’s for everyone in the car – goes up from $75 to $80.
The increase doesn’t take effect for three weeks. So state parks director Craig Whipple has this word of advice for people thinking about spending a lot of time in state parks this summer: buy now and save later.
(Whipple) “The early part of the season is when those are usually sold. So we’re encouraging everybody we talk to, to visit a day use state park area this Memorial Day weekend and they can save $5 on their annual pass.”
(Dillon) Whipple says other fees — for camping or boat rentals — will stay the same. The basic camping rate is $16 for a tent or trailer site.
But he says the day use charges hadn’t gone up in a few years, so officials felt it was time for the fee hike. The money pays for operations and maintenance.
(Whipple) “And this modest fee increase should raise between $100,000 and $120,000 for us this next fiscal year. Several of the day-use fees haven’t been increased for three or four years. The vehicle pass hasn’t been increased for seven years. So we think it’s still a fair bargain for everybody.”
(Dillon) Parks open this weekend and campgrounds close either Labor Day weekend or mid-October.
For VPR News, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier.
Vermont State Parks