Quechee Gorge, image courtesy of Magnus Manske
Whether it be hiking, camping or picnicking, Quechee State Park is a great place to relax for a few hours or use as a home base while you explore the nearby Green Mountains or Upper Connecticut Valley of New Hampshire and Vermont!
QUECHEE STATE PARK AND QUECHEE GORGE HISTORY
At 165 feet deep, the Quechee Gorge is the deepest gorge in Vermont. It is the result of thousands of years of formation from ice receding at the end of the last ice age, about 13,000 years ago. Before the gorge was formed, the Ottauquechee River flowed to the north and around to the east of the present-day gorge. Once the ice started to recede and water started to flow again, a large waterfall was formed and erosion from the flowing water created Quechee Gorge.
The Quechee State Park was established in 1965, with land that is still owned by the US Army Corps of Engineers.
ACTIVITIES IN QUECHEE STATE PARK
Quechee State Park map, courtesy of Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation
At just 612 acres, Quechee State Park is not very large. However, there is still plenty to do when visiting in both the park and in the surrounding area, even in the winter!
When visiting Quechee State Park, our recommendations on what to do include:
- Viewing the Gorge from Above. Coming to Quechee without viewing the gorge from above is a missed opportunity. Though technically outside of the park, the best way of viewing the gorge from above is by heading west on Rt. 4. From the park entrance the bridge is about 1000 feet to the west. You can reach here by either walking or driving and parking near the bridge. On busy summer days or in the fall the bridge can be busy, so just be patient (though you won’t have to wait long, by any means!). Peering over the edge is a bit scary, but it’s an amazing site! The Quechee Gorge Bridge was built in 1911 and is a pretty massive steel structure that spans 163 feet across the gorge. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Quechee Gorge Bridge, photo courtesy of the National Park Service
Quechee Gorge Bridge, photo courtesy of Šarūnas Burdulis
- Picnicking. There is no food service in the park, but there are plenty of picnic tables that are available for use. There is also a large open field that can be used for playing catch or just basking in the sun.
Hiking. There are only a couple of hiking options in Quechee State Park, and all trails lead down into the gorge. Be advised, that what comes down must go up! While they aren’t strenuous by normal hiking standards, they are a bit steep and if you hike them you need to be prepared to do a bit of climbing on the way back! Here are the details on the two hikes:
- The Quechee Gorge Trail heads down and back from the Quechee Gorge Visitor Center. Campers can also reach this trail from the campground. The trail is 1.4-miles (round-trip) and heads down 145 feet in the first 0.5 mile. At the bottom of the gorge, the trail is flat and offers the opportunity to access the Ottauquechee River or hang around the banks on the rocks. Our kids loved this trail in particular.
- Another option is to take the same route as above, but take the Quechee Gorge Trail north to Deweys Pond. Near this pond is the site of the Dewey Company, which was an old woolen mill that closed in 1952.
Explore the surrounding area. Nearby Quechee State Park, there is plenty to do to keep you busy for several days. Our recommendations include:
- Visit the Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS). Helping to care for the environment through education and avian wildlife rehabilitation, VINS is an amazing place for kids and adults alike. There are exhibits, a forest canopy walk, nature trails and amazing birds to see and learn about. VINS is located just west of the Quechee Bridge.
- Attend the Quechee Hot Air Balloon Festival. Every June, Quechee hosts its annual balloon festival. Even if you don’t go up in a balloon, the colors and entertainment is amazing. The Quechee Hot Air Balloon Festival is located on the Quechee Green, just about 1.5 miles from the state park.
- We loved visiting the local National Park Lands, including the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park as well as the St. Gaudens National Historical Park. Both have historic sites as well as beautiful grounds to explore, particularly in the summer or fall.
- Drive Route 100. Route 100 is beautiful, and heads through small towns as it runs north / south in the state. If you do take this, then we recommend downloading the GyPSy guide ahead of your trip. This guide is great, as it narrates the trip based on your physical location and provides detailed information on where to stop and what you are seeing on your drive.
HOW TO GET TO QUECHEE STATE PARK AND OTHER TRAVEL INFORMATION
Very little of Vermont is on a main thoroughfare, and Quechee State Park is no exception. However, it is right along Route 4, which is a well-traveled two-lane road heading east-west across Vermont, connecting the Upper Valley with Rutland, VT. It’s a great path to travel in the fall in particular.
- If you are heading from the east, here are directions from Lebanon, NH to Quechee State Parkv. This will take about 15 minutes (without traffic) and is the route you are going to follow if coming from Boston.
- For those heading from the west, here are directions from Rutland, VT to Quechee State Park. This will take about an hour without traffic, but you’ll likely encounter it while heading on Route 4.
You are likely going to want to take your time when traveling on Route 4 and take plenty of stops as there are many photo opportunities, shops to check out and places to see.
ENTRANCE FEES AND REQUIRED PASSES FOR QUECHEE STATE PARK
There is a modest entry fee for Quechee State Park. You can also consider purchasing a punch card or annual pass when you arrive.
WHERE TO STAY WHEN VISITING QUECHEE STATE PARK
Quechee State Park Lodging: There is no lodging inside the state park, but there are nearby inns and lodges in Quechee as well as Woodstock, VT. Be advised that in the summer, and particularly in the fall, reservations fill up well in advance (six months is not uncommon!). Book as far ahead as you can!
QUECHEE STATE PARK CAMPING
Quechee State Park campground map, courtesy of Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation
Camping in Quechee State Park is a great way of staying in an ideal spot of Vermont for fairly cheaply. It’s also a very quiet campground that you are sure to enjoy!
- Accessible via: Vehicle.
- Reservations: Offered mid-May through mid-October. Quechee State Park Campground Reservations.
- Capacity: 45 sites (plus 7 lean-to sites).
- Electricity / Water Hookups / Dump Station: No / No / Yes.
- Toilets / Showers: Flush toilets and showers.
- Additional details: The Quechee State Park Campground is a relatively small and quaint campground, with four small loops. The sites are all wooded, relatively large and secluded. There is a volleyball court and a large green that is great for the kids in particular!
BEST TIME TO VISIT QUECHEE STATE PARK
Quechee State Park is accessible year-round, but really it is most commonly visited during the warmer months of the year. Spring can be muddy and buggy, but summer and fall are glorious. If you want to beat the crowds, then coming during the early morning or toward the evening is perfect.
VISITING QUECHEE STATE PARK IN THE WINTER
Visitors are welcome to Quechee State Park in the winter, but snowshoes, cross-country skis or foot-traction is a must when on the trails.
ARE PETS ALLOWED IN QUECHEE STATE PARK?
Pets are allowed in Quechee State Park, but must be leashed.
RELATED INFORMATION ON QUECHEE STATE PARK AND THE SURROUNDING AREA FROM JUST GO TRAVEL STUDIOS
- When visiting Vermont, be sure to head over to New Hampshire and visit Saint Gaudens National Historical Park.
- Aside from Quechee, check out our other recommended State Parks in Vermont. One of our favorites is covered in our blog, What to See and Do in Little River State Park.
- After you visit Quechee State Park, send a photo to us and we’ll create a custom, vintage travel poster with your own custom text and styling. We promise you’ll love it!