Gifford Woods State Park (VT) has Awesome Autumn Camping

Photo Courtesy of VTStateParks.com

Deep in the woods of Vermont is a treasure of a campground for autumn. Gifford Woods State Park offers a quiet, wonderful place to go camping in the fall.

The roads can be narrow, so campers with large RVs should call ahead for size restrictions. That aside, not only are there trails and sports at the park, but its location to nearby towns offer a variety of activities and experiences, including train trips to see even more of Vermont’s fall beauty. The campsites are spacious with wooded areas between the sites, and visitors report the park as clean and well-maintained.

Activities at Gifford Woods State Park

Mid-September to Mid-October is the best time to hit Vermont to see the beauty of the changing leaves. For those with campers and RVs, Gifford Woods State Park is a great place to go for the dramatic color change. At the crossroads of US 4 and Highway 100, take Highway 100 for about half a mile. Gifford Woods State Park offers 21 RV/tent sites and four cabins.

There are no hookups, but there are toilets and coin-operated hot showers available. Gifford Woods State Park also offers an area for free Wi-Fi. The park has areas for volleyball and horseshoes. Mountain biking and hiking are popular as well as picnics in the wooded area in back of the ranger’s quarters. The park is designed in loops with access to many trails. There is a sanitary station in each loop. May 18th – October 15th is the season for this park, which is perfect for including fall trips to New England.

Leaf peepers who hike will enjoy taking advantage of the nearby Appalachian and Long trails in the crisp fall air. The old growth woods has been recently re-opened to visitors. It is an interpretive trail and runs past the picnic area. There are not many old-growth woods left in Vermont, but Gifford Woods State Park offers woods of large trees including Beech, Sugar Maple, Yellow Birch, and White Ash that are the perfect combination of colors for autumn lovers.    

In fact, what makes Vermont so beautiful in the fall is the variety of colors these trees change to. Sugar maples, depending on the amount of sun and shade, can change from red to orange to yellow. White Ash can change to purple or yellow in autumn, while Yellow Birch will provide a vivid yellow canopy overhead. Beech trees not only provide beechnuts, but also a lovely bronze color. If you have young children, pack their crayons, because they will love drawing a purple tree that is actually real.

Pet-friendly

Pet lovers will be happy to know that Gifford Woods State Park is a pet-friendly park, and pets can enjoy sniffing through the fall leaves everywhere. For visitors wanting a pet-friendly cabin, ask for open dates for the Moose cabin.

Things To Do

Rock Climbing

Although the area is best known in winter for its ski resorts, in nearby Killington, Vermont, rock climbing is available with guided tours in the fall. Also available for indoor entertainment is the Green Mountain Rock Climbing Center, which offers a lesson for $10 to folks new to rock climbing in tasks of tying the correct rope knot, sliding, and other skills. The fun is offered at half-off the price of $18 for veterans who have their military ID with them at the time. There’s also the Facebook Fridays discount. If you ‘like’ them on Facebook, you can ‘buy one, get one free’ between the hours of 6pm to 9pm on Friday evenings.

Hiking and Gondola Rides

Take a guided tour on portions of the Appalachian or Long Trails, and get close to the seven mountains of Killington. For an easier view of the fall foliage, visitors might want to take a gondola ride to the top of Killington Peak at over 4,000 feet. The pictures taken of the autumn views during this ride alone would be breathtaking.

Photography

In fact, speaking of photography, opportunities are limitless in the beauty of Gifford Woods State Park and the nearby trails at this time of year. Thundering Brook trail provides photo opportunities with its waterfalls as well as the Lana Falls trail where visitors can enjoy cascading waterfalls. Surrounded by autumn colors, pictures of the falls will be worthy of framing. If you’ve got a keen eye, you might be able to catch a photo of one of the Peregrine which is known to be in the wooded areas.

Mountain Biking

Many of the trails in the area are great for mountain biking, and enthusiasts will find no shortage of trails to choose from.

Golfing

The beauty of the foliage inspired Geoffrey Cornish to build the Green Mountain National Golf Course high in the mountains for golfers to play and enjoy the view at the same time. The course is designed for both beginners and more advanced players. Private and semi-private lessons are available. The course has been named as Vermont’s number one public golf course. Groups of twenty or more can golf for free. Don’t forget to take a peek at the Pro Shop for any and all things for golfing. The Pro Shop also carries golfing equipment and clothing for women as well.

Visitors can also stop afterward for a great meal at Gracie’s Grill nearby which offers burgers, marinated chicken, and salads along with Vermont craft beer.

Fishing

As you travel to Gifford Woods State Park, before reaching the contact station, there is a road that branches off, leading to Kent Pond. Here campers will find fishing and a boat access as well. You can enjoy catching one of the large population of largemouth bass or one of the pumpkinseed sunfish.

Colton Pond, only three minutes away, is also a great place for yellow perch and largemouth bass.

Going for a Drive

It’s often been said that the real beauty of Vermont is more easily seen from secondary or country roads as opposed to highways or roads more frequently traveled. Be sure to get an up-to-date new road map of Vermont to be able to take advantage of the smaller roads which offer more scenic beauty and photo opportunities. Take snacks or a picnic lunch for any picnic areas you might come across. Fishing poles and hiking boots are also good things to take along in case you spot public trails or fishing areas to fish from. You might even catch your own lunch! Wildlife you might spot, (but should never approach), include black bear, moose, lynx, coyotes, beaver, (look for the dams), Eastern Cougars, foxes, deer, or pheasant. Just a note of caution: be sure that any ‘trails’ you’ve found to hike on are not actually paths of wild animals. It’s been known to happen. For safety, try to stick with trails posted with signs.

Bird-watching

The Vermont state bird is the hermit thrush. Other birds commonly seen in Vermont, (although some may prefer evenings and nights, making them harder to spot), are: Grouse, ring-necked pheasant, herons, (look for ponds and lakes), wild turkey, ducks, snow goose, swan, doves, cuckoos, and many other species too numerous to mention as Vermont is a lovely bird’s paradise with its trees, mountains, and lakes.

Nightlife

The town of Killington offers no fewer than at least ten nightclubs, restaurants, and hotspots, including the Pickle Barrel Nightclub which features no less than three stories of bands, dance floors, and bars.

If you’re looking for a good, mouth-watering steak, visit the Killington Wobbly Barn for rare, medium, or well.

You can wet your whistle with craft beer that is available at the Sushi Yoshi which has the only craft beer garden in Killington along with Chinese and Japanese fare.

The Liquid Art Coffee House offers not only a place for great coffee but also art by local artists for sale along with many other arts and crafts. They also have open mic night on Thursdays from 6pm to 9pm if you would like to watch or try your talents before an audience.

Mogul’s is a great tavern for the whole family with its activities of darts, pool, and free Nintendo Wii, bocce, and Cornhole.

Activities at Pico Mountain

Less than five minutes away, Pico Mountain offers climbing walls. Visitors can also enjoy alpine rides and a good game of miniature golf. Kids and adults alike might enjoy power jumping where they can jump, flip, and fly through the air.

Spa

After a vigorous few days of mountain biking, hiking, and rock climbing, the Killington Spa offers a time of relaxation and luxury for a change of pace.

Art

Killington Art Garage is also nearby for those who are always open to increasing their self-expression and skills with several art workshops to choose from. These workshops can be a fun time for family to spend together as they try out new things.

Rutland

The town of Rutland is a mere fifteen-minute drive from the Gifford Woods State Park. It offers a variety of entertainment and shopping for those wanting to sample local foods, activities, and find gifts for loved ones.

Wonderfeet Kids Museum

The Wonderfeet Museum is a great value with ticket admissions at $5.00. Children can work on puzzles, experience a wind tunnel, play with flashlights on a cave wall, and learn about steam power. There are activities for toddlers also in color and sensory activities. Rutland wanted a child-friendly learning environment. Visitors who homeschool have a good opportunity here to include a field trip on their camping vacation.

Wilson Castle

With events for children and adults, everyone will enjoy the visit to Wilson Castle. A guided tour is available to visit the site located at Procter. Wilson Castle was originally built in the 1800s.

Pine Hill Park

Hikers and mountain bikers won’t want to miss the Pine Hill Park. It offers 16 miles of trails over 325 acres, much of it wooded, making it a popular spot for mountain biking. Those who enjoy running or walking are frequent visitors also. The Long Trail at Gifford Woods State Park can also be accessed in Rutland’s Pine Hill Park also.

Chaffee Art Museum

The Chaffee Art Museum not only is offering an art show through November 3rd but also is offering a painting workshop for fall leaves. Now when you finish your trip in Vermont, you’ll have a fall painting to remember the gorgeous fall foliage by. Kid classes are offered as well at the museum.

Lakes

Lake Champlain is interesting for the 300 ships at the bottom of the lake. Guided tours are available, and if you keep a sharp lookout, you just might spot Champ, the Lochness monster of Lake Champlain. Be sure to keep your camera at the ready for a snapshot of old Champ.

Lake Willoughby offers public beaches and trails which show breathtaking views of the mountains that surround the lake.

Silver Lake offers not only the usual fishing, but kayaking is also a common activity here.

Lake Bomoseen is a great spot for fishing and boating, or you might just enjoy a picnic on the public beach.

The Vermont Truffle Shop

Here is a treat you don’t want to miss. Stop by the Vermont Truffle Shop in Rutland. Their truffles began with a maple filling developed in their kitchen before the business was started in 2013. With 25 flavors to choose from including cheesecake, the Vermont Truffle Shop uses as many local ingredients as possible, including maple sugar. Visitors are able to watch through a glass window as the delicious candies are being made. This is a great opportunity that kids will enjoy. Buy some for yourself and as gifts for loved ones with the holidays coming up.

Book Sales

Book lovers will be happy to know that a trip to Gifford Woods State Park is timed just right for the library book sales. Be sure to visit Jeffersonville, and you won’t be disappointed.

The hour and a half drive is worth the trip for the great restaurants and shopping to see in the area. Jeffersonville shopping offers great bargains at the Vermont Maple Outlets while the Hearth and Candle restaurant among others beckon rest and refreshment for tired feet after shopping.

What Train Trips Are Available From Rutland, Vermont?

To view even more of Vermont without trying to keep your eyes on the road is the train tour leaving from Rutland to the restored Fort Edward Depot. For this tour, you can enjoy a four-course meal on white tablecloths in a Pullman car from the 1950s as you watch the beautiful autumn countryside go by. Once at the Fort Edward Depot, you will find the Timeless Art Gallery and Gifts which has no fewer than fifty artists. Amtrak provides the trip back to Rutland, which is already included in the fare. If interested, check out this contact information: Vermont Dining Train c/o Rail & Cruise Travel Center P O Box 652 Union, NJ 07083-0652 Phone: 800-292-7245 railandcruisetravel.com

There are other train tours campers might choose to take such as the Green Mountain tour which includes a narrator pointing out covered bridges and lovely waterfalls along the way. More information can be found at rails-vt.com.

Other trips by train from Rutland include Niagara Falls and Washington D.C. Just remember when booking a trip, you need to be back at Gifford Woods State Park by October 15, because that is the closing day for camping season at the park.

Revolutionary/Civil War Tour

Just an hour’s drive south from Killington, you will find the Revolutionary/Civil War Tour available on a ten passenger bus. Running through November, the fee is $35 per person which includes thirty-five sites. Ticonderoga and the Battle of Bennington are among the visits. Reservations are needed, so call at 802-362-4997 to avoid missing out on this history buff’s adventure.

What Is the Temperature in Vermont in October?

While much of the country might have temperatures in the 60s and 70s in October, Vermont’s mountain region can be a little cooler with daytime temperatures in the 50s and nighttime temperatures in the 30s. You might plan on packing some sweaters, jackets, and sweatshirts for those hiking trips to see Vermont’s beautiful autumn leaves and warm pajamas for the cool nights that come after.

Oftentimes, leaves in the rest of the country have barely begun to change color in early October. Due to the cooler temperatures, weather conditions, and the mountains, Vermont is ahead in the game when it comes to beautiful fall foliage. Campers should plan an early trip to Vermont in the first half of October to see the best autumn Vermont has to offer. If you miss the camping season, the park is still open to daytime visitors for walking and hiking. Plan to do it before the snow begins, however, and don’t forget your jacket.

If you’ve been putting off that fall trip to Vermont, here is the perfect opportunity to go camping. For more information on this fall adventure, go to https://vtstateparks.com/gifford.html to learn more.

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