Vt. campgrounds likely full next weekend

Saturday June 29, 2013

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) -- The director of the Vermont State Parks said he expects all 2,100 campsites at the state's 38 campgrounds will be full for the July Fourth holiday weekend.

The Independence Day week tends to be the busiest of the summer season, and this year will be no exception despite the increased precipitation this spring and early summer, Craig Whipple said.

"We expect to be full to capacity," Whipple said Friday.

While the number of visitors to the state's day-use parks usually depends on the weather, many of those intending to camp out make their reservations up to 11 months in advance.

Last year, the Vermont State Park system had 920,000 visitors, a 20-year high.

The state has been working hard to encourage camping and people have been responding, Whipple said.

"A lot of people are appreciating a resurgence of getting outdoors and all the values associated with outdoor recreation," Whipple said. "A lot of parents are anxious to get their kids outdoors and away from electronic attractions."

Whipple estimated the 920,000 visitors to the state's 52 campgrounds and day-use parks last year contributed $75 million to Vermont's economy.

About 80 percent of the day-use visitors come from Vermont, but about 55 percent of campers come from out of state.

So far, day use at state parks is about 25 percent lower than for the same period in 2012, but officials think that is directly attributable to the rainy weather through much of May and June.

"As soon as the weather pattern changes, the numbers will just skyrocket," Whipple said. "The first time you see the sun, people want to head out."

Vermont has one of the most robust state parks systems in the country, Whipple said.

The state's first state park, Mount Philo in Charlotte, opened in 1924, but much of Vermont's state park system was created during the 1930s at the direction of longtime state forester Perry Merrill, who also oversaw a second growth spurt in the 1960s.

"We've done some expansion since then, but nothing compared to those periods," Whipple said.


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