Labor Day weekend is almost upon us — the last holiday weekend of the summer — so Vermonters may be hoping to get out for one final camping trip before the season ends.
The state has a number of state parks where people have paid in advance to reserve a spot at designated campsites. Those slots are typically gone — or close to it — before the season begins.
For people who have not planned ahead, or are on a budget, there is always the option of primitive camping. This type of camping is free and available in state forests and in some undeveloped state parks, according to Vermont’s Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation.
What is primitive camping?
Primitive camping is also known as “no trace” camping, according to the department. People camp in a forest with no developed facilities, including no public drinking water or toilets, and later leave the site with little or no evidence of human visitation.
“Lands designated for primitive camping are usually in areas with difficult access,” according to a guide to primitive camping from the department. “Primitive camping is a remote camping experience in a forested setting, not a wilderness experience.”
What are the rules for primitive camping in Vermont?
The Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation has a number of rules for primitive camping around the state.
- Primitive camping is only allowed within designated areas of state lands.
- Within designated areas, a camp must be set up 100 feet away from any stream or body of water; 200 feet away from any trail or property line; 1,000 feet from any building, shelter, platform or roads maintained for public traffic; and 2,500 feet away from any developed park facility.
- Camping is limited to not more than three nights in the same area.
- Groups of 11 people or more must obtain a permit to primitive camp.
- Only dead or down trees and branches may be used for firewood.
- There must be one responsible adult camper for every four campers who are aged 14 or younger.
- Any rubbish brought in must be carried back out. Campsites must be left clean.
- For human waste, select a site that is at least 200 feet from any stream or body of water. Dig a hole at least 6 inches deep, and cover completely with dirt after using.
Primitive camping is prohibited in the following situations:
- Above 2,500 feet in elevation, unless otherwise designated.
- On land leased to other people.
- In areas designated as a state-owned natural, fragile, or waterfowl management area. (An authorized agency representative must give written permission.)
Want more information?
People can find more information about primitive camping (including maps of where you’re allowed to pitch a tent), and other camping options, at vtstateparks.com/camping.html. The website contains a list of camping areas and ways that people can contact people who oversee the areas.
Information can also be found through: