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Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge in Vermont was established in 1943 to protect the delta habitat for several species of waterfowl and bird of prey, some of which were approaching endangered status. Thanks to this proactive measure, most of these birds and waterfowls are doing well today. The park was initially just a few hundred acres, but Vermont has steadily purchased land over the years, and it now encompasses over 6,600 acres. Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge is the only wildlife refuge entirely inside Vermont’s borders.
The closest town is Swanton. A small town of around 6,000 residents, Swanton has a grocery store, a handful of restaurants and a few stores. It’s about four miles to the southeast. Search for an RV in Franklin County and get ready to embark on an RV camping adventure of a lifetime.
The refuge is a unique mix of bogs, wetlands, grasslands, and woods. The bog is a known habitat of an endangered plant, chain ferns, and Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge is one of the only places in the world where this plant can still be found. Boardwalk paths cross the bog area, allowing visitors to safely enjoy this habitat without harming the fragile plant, into the wetlands where many wildlife make their home in the murky water. Among the rushes, wetland trees, and shrubs, many aquatic animals can be observed. Muskox, minks, otters, beavers, and several species of waterfowl are commonly sighted.
Great blue herons have one of the largest rookeries (nesting grounds) in New England in the wetlands. Overhead, bald eagles, ospreys, and many other birds of prey build their nests in the trees and can often be spotted soaring high above. In addition to small mammals, many of these raptor birds enjoy delicious fish and have been known to watch fishermen and determine the best spots for snatching up a fish from the water.
The annual fall and spring migration is something to behold. Timed well, hikers can observe tens of thousands of ducks and waterfowl descending from the skies on their long journey between their northern and southern grounds. They raise quite a ruckus with their honking and quacking as they chatter and call out to one another. The magnificent great horned owls, too, will join the conversation with soft hoots as they ready to hunt at dusk.
Large-game animals like moose, white-tailed deer, black bears, and to a lesser extent, bobcats are frequently sighted meandering through the refuge. Photographers and nature lovers will delight in the abundant wildlife.
In addition to 12 miles of hiking trails, some on boardwalks, there is a short Jeep trail that is designated for off-highway vehicles. It’s about five miles long, venturing into deep woods.
Hikers and other adventurers are strongly advised to rely on mosquito repellants. The mosquitoes and other biting flies sustain a very healthy population because the delta water is slow-moving, and particularly in late summers, stagnant. Dogs are allowed, but they must be leashed
When faced with the prospect of camping in the outdoors, adventurers have a choice between leaky tents or renting an RV. RV rentals often win out. After all, they’re warm, dry, and perhaps more importantly, mosquito-free. There are a handful of campgrounds near the refuge, all with different amenities and level of service.
RV camp at Campbell’s Bay Campground, which is just north of Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge. A seasonal RV campground that looks out on Lake Champlain, there offer electric and water hookups, hot showers, and a laundromat.
Alternatively, Sunset Rock RV Park near North Hero may also be a good contender. The campground boasts over 150 RV sites with full hookups, WiFi, and laundry. Campers have a choice between sites with shade trees, open space, or waterfront access.
In rural, wild Vermont north, there are many small towns that are historic, dating back to the founding of the United States. Hop into a rental motorhome and explore them all. Search for small museums run by volunteers, cute cafes with homemade bread and desserts, and gift shops for the perfect souvenir to take home as a reminder of this RV camping vacation.
On the island of La Mott is Fisk Farm, one of the oldest still-standing farms in Vermont. Once a humble fieldstone home and a small farm that was built in the late 1700s, generations of Fisk family slowly expanded and improved the farm. Though it fell into disrepair in the 1950s, it has been lovingly restored. The farm is open to visitors during summers, and the venue also holds concerts a few times a year (check online for the schedule).
The Wolf Monument in St. Albans City, VT, is a local curiosity. In 1839, someone - it’s unknown who - took the time to etch into stone, commemorating the end of a time of terror. A giant wolf had been terrorizing the hapless people of Franklin County (a claim that’s unconfirmed, no doubt) for an undetermined time. Also, in the town of St. Albans City is a small museum that shares local history and culture. Many photographs, art, documents, and other artifacts from the 1800s and early 1900s are on display.
At the end of a long day of adventuring, escape the mosquitoes by retreating into an Airstream rental and enjoy listening to the sounds of nature. Find your ideal RV camping adventure in northern Vermont and set off on an amazing trip with friends and family.