Rules of Engagement in Southern Vermont
A Local’s Guide to Successfully Navigating Southern Vermont Roads.
Vermont is kind of special. We don’t have the typical four seasons that the majority of the world enjoys. Instead, we have SIX. No our year is not any longer than anyone else’s. In late January, when the days are still incredibly short we might argue that in fact our year is MUCH longer. Vermont’s mountainous landscape and northern climes mean that in addition to the well-known and much beloved seasons of winter, spring, summer & fall we also have Mud Season & Stick Season.
Anyone who has traveled to Vermont in late April & early May has experienced mud season.
With the majority of our secondary roads composed of dirt & gravel, the winter run off creates a morass that all but the most beefed up SUV become entombed in.
Ask any resident of these roads about mud season and the response is often,
“I just hope that my car drops into the right set of ruts that leads to my house”.
These same roads are gorgeous in late spring, summer & fall with photo opportunities galore. You never know when you will round the bend to an expansive view with the colonial era farmhouse, barn & obligatory cows, or even moose. The masses of maple, beech, elm & oak trees explode with sumptuous color. All of this creates amazing drives where in the summer the light is saturated with green and in the fall you’ll be seeing our Valley through the peachy rose glow filtered through the blazing crimson, orange & yellow foliage.
Stick Season, also known as late October until the first significant snow fall of the season, is not nearly as perilous as our other accessory season. While the showy foliage is noticeably absent there is something to be said for a relaxing drive as you unwind from a life that too often seems hectic. Enjoy the rare views of waterfalls usually hidden by our dense foliage and the occasional sighting of a fox or beer before they go to their long winter’s nap.
The Deerfield Valley offers so much to do in the winter; any additional time taken to successfully reach us is well worth it. Our valley is nestled in the Southern Vermont Green Mountain Range. What that means is that you have to go up…and sometimes down to reach our valley. The majority of our visitors reach us via the Route 9 Corridor from Brattleboro or Bennington.
A great resource for planning your travels during the winter is Vermont 511. Updated road conditions will help you to navigate safely to your valley destination.
Locals Tip: If you are driving to our Valley during a snow storm, and HAVE to get here this is our suggested route from points south. We do not recommend driving during inclement weather. From Interstate 91 in Greenfield, MA take the exit for Route 2 West. Turn right onto Route 112. Follow Route 112 to Jacksonville, VT (if you get into town early enough pop into Honora Winery & Spoonwood Cabin Creamery for a taste of locally produced products and stock up for the weekend). In Jacksonville turn right and then a quick left onto Route 100 north to Wilmington & Dover. In general this route does not see as many weather related accidents during the winter.
Winter driving in Vermont can be challenging if you aren’t prepared so here’s a few tips.
Snow tires. I can hear the assurances now. “I have a four wheel drive.”, “I drive a stick.”, and “I know how to drive in the snow.” Daily travel on local roads in all kinds of conditions will make you a bit of an expert, regardless of the conditions of your tires. That being said; all it takes is one deer, a gust of snow or inexperienced driver drifting into your lane, and your marginal tires are taking you on a wild ride into the ditch. So save your life, your car, (and maybe the aforementioned deer) and invest in a set of snow tires or studded snows if you are planning on doing a lot of driving in Vermont during the winter. Of course you can take all of the stress out of driving in our valley during the winter by taking advantage of our excellent FREE (and unique) MOOver buses.
Sometimes you get a little stuck on a slippery road or your driveway. That’s when it’s handy to have a bag of kitty litter waiting in your trunk, or just make sure you have an awesome plow guy to keep the potential Olympic grade sledding hill that is your driveway cleared, salted & sanded through the winter. If you are seriously stuck call Greene’s Automotive Towing to get you straightened back out.
Staying safe this winter
Every once in a while we will hear from a visitor or resident who unfortunately has received a speeding ticket in the valley. Yes, we understand that 35 & even 25 mile an hour can seem like you’ve hopped on the back of a turtle and will never make it to your destination. Our local police officers live, work & play with the rest of our community. So forgive us if they are sticklers about something that seems as innocent as going 10 miles an hour over the speed limit. Their friends, families, guests and other visitors are traveling and walking the same streets as you. We like our pedestrians upright, healthy and smiling, so when you are driving through our business districts slow down please. Dover & Wilmington Police officers will be there when you most need them throughout the winter regardless of time of day, road conditions, or weather.
Looking forward to seeing you on the roads this winter and all year round.