Camping in Chittenden County: From Rustic to Resort05/26/2021 12:48PM ● By Cassie Horner
Vermont is designed for camping. Beautiful lakes, clear streams, mountains, and picturesque towns all invite people to venture outdoors for a summer of family fun. Chittenden County, anchored by Lake Champlain (known as the sixth Great Lake), offers a wide array of places to camp, from rustic to resort. Some sport water views. Some nestle in the woods. Some highlight lots of activities, and some encourage a quieter atmosphere. Whatever your list of preferences for a few days or weeks in a campground, you will have an engaging variety of choices.
Camp Skyland in South Hero overlooks Lake Champlain. “My husband’s great grandmother, Mabel Norton, started it in 1927. We are the fourth generation to run the campground,” says Shira Arnold. “It is right on the lake and has beach access. A lot of our campers are third and fourth generation. People enjoy the peace and quiet. We are at the end of the island. At the end of the world.” Skyland is small, family-oriented, and rustic. People enjoy swimming and kayaking. Some campers have biked from Burlington. There is a recreation building featuring such activities as ping-pong and indoor and outdoor games available to borrow.
Campers can select from three options: rustic cabins in two sizes, grassy campsites for tents or small trailers with no hookups, and a few trailer sites for trailers under 24 feet. Camp Skyland opens this year on Memorial Day Weekend and closes the last weekend in September. Pets are not allowed. For more information, visit campskylandvt.com.
Shelburne Camping Area is also a fourth-generation business. “My parents rented the first site in 1972,” says Chris Bissonette. “We are a great destination for day trips in Vermont.” It is located one mile north of Shelburne Village in the heart of the Champlain Valley. The summer 2021 season started April 1 and closes October 31. Shelburne Campground is open year-round with limited off-season facilities from November 1 to March 31. The campground offers a full range of options, from no hookup to full hookup. There are also one- and two-room kitchenettes. For more information, visit shelburnecamping.com.
Dunlap Riehle, the owner of Pine Haven Eco-Campground located by the Lamoille River in Colchester, describes it as a “boutique campground. A hidden gem.” He stumbled across it in 2011 while searching online for an RV he could comfortably travel the US in with his mother. Although it hadn’t been operating for 10 years, Pine Haven seemed like an interesting project to take on as a way to combine his love for the outdoors and meeting adult travelers. “My family has always been a steward of Vermont and all it has to offer,” he says. “I wanted to create an eco-friendly, no-frills destination geared towards adults, and that embraces everything Vermont.” RV and tent sites are available (and renting quickly). There is a deck for water activities. Campers describe this natural area as very quiet and peaceful. For more information, call (802) 355-5566.
North Beach Campground, operated by the City of Burlington Parks, Recreation, and Waterfront, is located on almost 45 acres of woods and beach on the shores of Lake Champlain in Burlington. It is a “hidden treasure” that features a rural atmosphere in an urban area. The campground offers 137 sites for tents and RVs or trailers from May 1 to October 15. There is an activity area and a kids’ playground at the beach. Bicyclists can directly access nine miles of bike paths from the campground. For more information, visit enjoyburlington.com.
Keeler Bay Campground & Marina is located in South Hero. The nine-acre campground, open from May 1 to October 15, has 900 feet of shoreline on Lake Champlain. There are 24 sites for tents and RV full hookup. Beautiful views of the lake, along with recreational amenities including a large open field, make this a special place for campers. The marina, open May 15 to October 15, has 80 deep-water boat slips on the lake and provides food and bar service. For more information, visit keelerbay.com.
3 Pine Haven Road
Outside of Chittenden County, campers will find an extensive selection of camping opportunities. Here is a sampling to show the possibilities in Vermont from north to south.
In Northern Vermont, Smugglers’ Notch State Park Campground is situated in the heart of the natural beauty of Stowe. The area, known for the historic notch once frequented by smugglers, offers a wide variety of activities such as hiking, biking, bouldering, ice climbing, and cave exploring. The campground, open from May 21 to October 17, includes 20 tent and 14 lean-to sites, most of them walk-in with no vehicle access. Bingham Falls is one of the natural spots within easy access to the campground. For more information, visit vtstateparks.com.
In Central Vermont, Coolidge State Park is located in the developed recreation centerpiece of the 21,500-acre Calvin Coolidge State Forest, named for the 30th US President. Open from May 28 to the second Monday in October, the campground has 26 tent/RV sites and 36 lean-to rustic hillside sites known for sweeping views of the Black River Valley and the Green Mountains. Campers can use the nearby Camp Plymouth State Park, enjoying swimming and boating at no additional fee. For more information, visit vtstateparks.com.
Further south in Arlington, Vermont, is Camping on the Battenkill, a 35-acre campground accessing the Battenkill and Roaring Branch Rivers. The quiet, nature-oriented property features swimming in the swimming hole, fishing, canoeing, tubing, hiking, touring neighboring covered bridges, and enjoying the games room. Camping sites range from 48 in hardwoods to 37 in partially wooded areas and 18 along the open field near the playground. Options are available for RVs and tents. For more information, visit campingonthebattenkill.com.