Planning a foliage trip to Vermont? There’s something you should know

LAKE GEORGE — With the Columbus Day holiday nearly here, and autumn foliage nearing its brilliant peak, resorts around the Capital Region are rolling out the red carpet.

In Lake George, steamboat tours are proving popular, while farther north, Revolution Rail is offering excursions on an unused rail line out of North Creek, and Gore Mountain is featuring gondola rides.

In the Berkshires, a number of museums, including the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown and the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, are open, some with timed entry.

But Vermont? You might want to reconsider. Residents from much of the Capital Region, including Albany, Saratoga, Warren, Rensselaer, Columbia and Greene counties, are facing travel restrictions because of the relatively high rate of Covid-19 in those counties.

Visitors staying overnight would need to fill out forms or pass a Covid-19 screening and quarantine before they arrive in the state. Details and a map of counties in the Northeast and their current status may be found at https://accd.vermont.gov/covid-19/restart/cross-state-travel

It has been a tough year so far for the tourism and hospitality markets, with many overseas destinations, as well as Canada, closed to U.S. leisure travelers. Vacationers have largely stayed close to home, with most traveling by car, an easy way to maintain social distance.

So places like Lake George are coming off a strong summer, with demand rolling into the fall.

“We have many places that are still no vacancy,” said Gina Mintzer, executive director of the Lake George Regional Chamber of Commerce. “Campgrounds are still busy. Others that would seasonally closed are staying open until Nov. 1st because they’re busy.”

People continue to rent boats for a cruise around the lake, while others are taking advantage of hiking trails on Pinnacle Mountain in nearby Bolton Landing and Prospect Mountain overlooking the south end of Lake George.

In the Berkshires, fall foliage colors are at their peak, said Lindsey Schmid, vice president of tourism and marketing at 1Berkshire in Pittsfield. Pumpkin festivals, garden tours and other activities are planned throughout the fall. Details: berkshires.org/events

Gasoline prices should make any road trip less expensive than a year ago, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge report. In the Capital Region, a gallon of unleaded regular averaged $2.259 on Wednesday, down nearly 40 cents from $2.652 a year earlier. AAA said gas prices nationally are the lowest for early October since 2016.

Air and rail travel have suffered as Covid-19 has made travelers wary of sharing enclosed spaces with strangers.

Amtrak and airlines have responded with stepped up cleaning and disinfecting, and require masks of all crew members and passengers. Frequently touched surfaces are regularly disinfected as well, said Amtrak spokesman Jason Abrams.

Air travel is running anywhere from 70 to 78 percent below year-earlier levels, said Albany International Airport spokesman Doug Myers. Leisure travelers from nearly three dozen states face quarantine restrictions when arriving in New York state, which likely has had an impact on demand for air travel.

Meanwhile, in Lake George, Mintzer is seeing plenty of new visitors. Campgrounds and inns that counted on Canadian visitors for anywhere from 12 to 30 percent of their business have seen new visitors take their place, many who previously might have gone to the Hamptons or Vermont.

Now, she oserved, “even Warren County residents can’t go to Vermont.”

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