UNITED STATES NEWS

Leaf-peeping influencers are clogging a Vermont backroad. The town is closing it

Sep 25, 2023, 9:08 PM

POMFRET, Vt. (AP) — Social media influencers take note: You won’t be able to snap that fall foliage selfie at a popular Vermont spot. The town has temporarily closed the road to nonresidents due to overcrowding and “poorly behaved tourists.”

The normally quiet dirt road from Pomfret to Woodstock, home to the frequently photographed Sleepy Hollow Farm, will be open only to residents through mid-October. And local law enforcement plans to enforce it.

In recent years, social media users and photographers have clogged the narrow road for selfies and fall foliage shots of the scenic private property, drawn by its colorful hillside trees, the barn and classic New England home.

Locals say they understand the lure of the beautiful leaves and landscape, but say some visitors have gone too far: blocking traffic with their parked vehicles, obstructing access for residents and emergency vehicles, as well as picnicking and even relieving themselves on private land surrounding the home. One Instagram poster even tipped followers about how easy it is to go around the entrance gate to the private property, which also has surveillance cameras.

“Poorly behaved tourists have damaged roads, had accidents, required towing out of ditches, trampled gardens, defecated on private property, parked in fields and driveways, and verbally assaulted residents,” said the organizers of a GoFundMe site called Save Cloudland Road.

It’s just a shame,” said local resident Nancy Bassett. “It spoils it for a lot of people.”

Overcrowding driven by social media posts have plagued other destinations around the globe, from a street in Paris to a small city in California that was overrun with visitors when heavy winter rains produced a “super bloom” of wild poppies. Disneyland-sized crowds hit Lake Elsinore, California, in 2019 “who trampled the very habitat that they placed so high in regard.”

People illegally parked their cars along the freeway, created gridlock affecting emergency responders and infringed on residents’ ability to shop or even get to work, said Mayor Natasha Johnson. This year, the canyons where wild poppies grow and nearby parking areas were completely off-limits, with the sheriff warning that violators could be ticketed, towed or even arrested.

Zion National Park in Utah took another approach to ease overcrowding and improve safety on its popular Angels Landing hike: Hikers are now required to get a permit.

On that back road in Vermont, the increase in foliage season traffic during the last several years has been spurred “by extraordinary tourism interest in private properties” and caused “significant safety, environmental, aesthetic, and quality of life issues,” the Select Board of Pomfret, a town of just over 900, wrote in a message to the community.

Social media users have reacted in various ways. “Honestly it has been photographed so many times I don’t see the point anyway,” one wrote on Facebook. “I definitely can’t blame them as social media has given away so many great spots.”

A local milk truck driver advised: “Please, come to VT and enjoy our foliage. It’s amazing. For the love of God, PLEASE pull off the road before stopping to take pics, and please pull off the road instead of driving 25 in a 50.”

Other posters wrote: “Vermont is really beautiful. So are lots of other places,” and, “Why in the world would you want to visit somewhere with a crowd of people? There are beautiful spots that can be enjoyed and you’ll have them all to yourself.”

The scenic, winding Vermont passage named Cloudland Road is now temporarily closed to nonresidents and lined with no-parking signs and no-photo signs along the farm property. There’s also a no trespassing sign at the gate.

Locals encourage tourists to visit nearby attractions that can accommodate them with parking and other amenities.

“People love the leaves and we understand foliage and it brings people here and we don’t want that to stop,” said Linda Arbuckle, a clerk at the local general store. “Unfortunately some people, not all, have taken it to the next step, where people have come home and people have been on their porches having lunch.”

United States News

Associated Press

Rail bridge collapses during Midwest flooding as a heat wave persists across much of the US

Millions of Americans sweated through a scorching weekend as temperatures soared across the U.S., while residents were rescued from floodwaters that forced evacuations across the Midwest. One person died during flooding in South Dakota, the governor said. From the mid-Atlantic to Maine, across the Great Lakes region, and throughout the West to California, public officials […]

9 hours ago

Associated Press

3 Columbia University administrators put on leave over alleged text exchange at antisemitism panel

NEW YORK (AP) — Columbia University said it has placed three administrators on leave while it investigates allegations that they exchanged unprofessional text messages while attending a panel discussion about antisemitism on campus. The university said the administrators work for its undergraduate Columbia College, which hosted the panel discussion “Jewish Life on Campus: Past, Present […]

15 hours ago

Associated Press

Man charged in shooting that critically wounded Philadelphia officer, police say

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A 36-year-old Philadelphia man was charged Sunday with attempted murder in connection with a shooting that critically wounded a police officer after a traffic stop, police said. Ramon Rodriguez Vazquez also faces charges that include aggravated assault and home invasion, police said. The 31-year-old officer and his partner stopped a car carrying […]

17 hours ago

Associated Press

California boy, 4, who disappeared from campground found safe after 22 hours alone in wilderness

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — A 4-year-old California boy who wandered away from a campground in the Sierra National Forest was found safe after spending 22 hours alone in the wilderness, authorities said. A search-and-rescue team of about 50 officers and volunteers set out around 11 a.m. Thursday after the child was reported missing from the […]

18 hours ago

Associated Press

One man died and five others were hospitalized in downtown St. Louis shooting

ST. LOUIS (AP) — One man is dead and five others have been wounded in a downtown St. Louis shooting, police said. Police believe women were fighting in a park when men interfered and drew firearms, according to social media posts from the agency. The man who died was in his mid-twenties, police said. Five […]

18 hours ago

Associated Press

Michigan sheriff’s deputy fatally shot pursuing a stolen vehicle in Detroit

DETROIT (AP) — A Michigan county sheriff’s deputy was fatally shot while pursing a suspected stolen vehicle in Detroit, the Oakland County sheriff’s office said Sunday. Bradley J. Reckling, who was on duty in an unmarked car, was following a 2022 Chevy Equinox Saturday evening after the vehicle was reported stolen earlier in the day […]

19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

Leaf-peeping influencers are clogging a Vermont backroad. The town is closing it