Social media-driven travel has become the norm in recent years, with influencers flocking to beautiful destinations to create viral posts. The influx of unruly tourists overwhelming the infrastructure of small localities has significantly outweighed any financial benefit. An area of scenic Vermont has had enough and decided to close to a heavily visited road to everyone except residents for the height of the fall foliage season.
The Boston Globe reported that Pomfret, Vermont’s selectboard has voted to block Cloudland Road from September 15th until October 23rd. The dirt and gravel road has become an Instagram pilgrimage site for those gorgeous selfies with picturesque autumnal landscapes. However, it has become a headache for local residents. The town attempted to make Cloudland Road one-way last year to alleviate traffic, but it just increased the number of locals who had to deal with the problems. Now, Windsor County deputy sheriffs will be posted at checkpoints at the road’s start to ensure that only residents are using the road.
Local residents were alarmed by the unbridled wave of visitors during the fall in recent years. Mike Doten, a local farmer, noted to the Globe how influencers were far different than traditional photographers or tourists staying at local inns. They treated private property like public parks, ignoring trespassing signs to picnic on farmland, fly drones, steal produce and use private restrooms. Doten even mentioned how a woman erected a portable changing room for a selfie photoshoot. The Doten family has lived in the area since the late 18th century.
The community is not only setting personal boundaries and helping public safety. With vehicles stopping for photos on the one-lane Cloudland Road, emergency vehicles would have difficulties traveling anywhere along the route during the foliage season. No one wants to see an ambulance blocked over this. Local residents believe tourism will continue but calm to pre-Instagram levels in a few years.