April 24, 2024
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Isle La Motte – Exploring the Beautiful Champlain Islands of Vermont

Lake Champlain Islands

Isle La Motte is a picturesque island located in the Champlain Islands region of Vermont. Situated on Lake Champlain, it offers a serene getaway for visitors looking to explore the natural beauty, rich history, and unique geology of the area. From fossil reefs to historic landmarks, Isle La Motte has something for everyone. Whether you're seeking outdoor adventures, a spiritual journey, or simply a relaxing vacation, this hidden gem should not be missed. Join us as we delve into the wonders of Isle La Motte and all it has to offer.

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1 Discover the Charm of Isle La Motte: A Gem in Vermont's Champlain Islands

Discover the Charm of Isle La Motte: A Gem in Vermont's Champlain Islands

Key Takeaways About Isle La Motte:

  • At Harborside Market in North Hero, cross the bridge on the left, over Lake Champlain, and then another left to Isle La Motte
  • Isle La Motte is a picturesque island in Vermont's Champlain Islands region, located on Lake Champlain.
  • The island offers a diverse range of attractions, including unique geology, historical landmarks, spiritual sites, and outdoor activities.
  • Visitors can explore the Chazy fossil reef, the oldest exposed reef in the world, and learn about the island's geological history.
  • Saint Anne's Shrine provides a peaceful environment for spiritual reflection and prayer, with stunning views of Lake Champlain.
  • Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy biking, self-guided tours, water activities, and more on Isle La Motte.
  • The island's quarries have played a significant role in its development, both economically and historically.
  • When planning a trip to Isle La Motte, it's important to be prepared and consider the year-round attractions and tips for biking around the island.

Why Isle La Motte is a Must-Visit in VT

When it comes to unique geology, rich history, and natural beauty, Isle La Motte in Vermont is a hidden gem that should not be missed. Situated on Lake Champlain, this northernmost island is home to fascinating fossil reefs, holds great historical significance, and offers a serene setting for visitors to explore and enjoy. Enjoy the scenic drive north from the Burlington area or south if you're visiting from Montreal or other places in Canada.

Isle La Motte's Unique Geology and Fossil Reefs

One of the main attractions of Isle La Motte is its unique geology and the ancient fossil reefs it harbors. The Chazy fossil reef, estimated to be around 480 million years old, is the oldest exposed reef in the world. It provides a captivating window into Earth's prehistoric past, showcasing the remnants of marine life that lived long before humans walked the planet. Geology enthusiasts and nature lovers will be enthralled by the fascinating formations and the opportunity to witness ancient history firsthand. Fun for the kids to explore too!

Although South Hero is famous for it's apple orchards, Isle La Motte is unique in it's own special way as well!

The Historical Significance of Isle La Motte in Vermont's History

Isle La Motte holds a significant place in Vermont's history. In the mid-1600s, it served as the site of the first French outpost on Lake Champlain, showcasing the island's strategic importance. Additionally, Isle La Motte played a crucial role in the War of 1812, shaped by its strategic location and its connection to the lake. Exploring the island's historical sites and learning about its past is a captivating journey through Vermont's heritage.

Alpine Web Media

Exploring the Natural Beauty of Lake Champlain's Northernmost Island

With its picturesque landscapes and charming small towns, Isle La Motte offers unparalleled natural beauty. Visitors can marvel at the expansive views of Lake Champlain, take peaceful strolls along its shores, and immerse themselves in the tranquility of the surroundings. Whether it's a leisurely hike, a relaxing picnic, or simply appreciating the scenic vistas, Isle La Motte provides a serene and breathtaking experience for all who venture to this northernmost island.
Local Tip: You can enjoy free swimming (and a picnic) along the shores of Lake Champlain, across the street from Saint Anne's Shrine. Please make sure to clean up and leave the area untouched, so that we can all continue to enjoy this great, local resource.

Uncovering the Geological Wonders of Isle La Motte

The Fisk Quarry Preserve: A Window to the Past

The Fisk Quarry Preserve is a must-visit destination for those interested in exploring the geological wonders of Isle La Motte. This unique preserve provides a captivating glimpse into the island's ancient past. As you wander through the preserve, you'll have the opportunity to see a remarkable collection of fossils that date back millions of years. These fossils offer a fascinating window into the prehistoric world and allow you to experience the rich geological history of Isle La Motte firsthand.

Goodsell Ridge Fossil Preserve: Exploring Ancient Reefs

Another incredible site to explore on Isle La Motte is the Goodsell Ridge Fossil Preserve. This preserve offers a captivating journey back in time as you discover the remnants of ancient reefs. You'll find yourself immersed in a world that existed millions of years ago, as you witness the remains of prehistoric marine life embedded in the rocks. It's a truly awe-inspiring experience that highlights the diverse ecosystems that once thrived in this area.

The Role of Limestone and the Chazy Fossil Reef in Isle La Motte's Landscape

Limestone plays a significant role in shaping Isle La Motte's unique landscape. The Chazy fossil reef, a prominent feature of the island, is composed of limestone formations that offer a fascinating insight into Earth's history. These limestone formations provide a stunning visual backdrop and contribute to the island's geological diversity. As you explore Isle La Motte, you'll be surrounded by the remnants of ancient reefs, their mystical presence adding to the island's allure. You simply need to look around for them!

A Spiritual Journey to Saint Anne's Shrine in Isle La Motte

Saint Anne's Shrine on Isle La Motte, Vermont, is a place of deep spiritual significance that attracts visitors seeking a meaningful and reflective experience. The roots of this historical shrine date back to the mid-1600s when the first French outpost was established on the island. It's a great place to explore and visit and the folks who work there are cordial and inviting. Check out the main building's gift shop and enjoy the building itself. It really is a beautiful place!

The History of Saint Anne's Shrine on Isle La Motte

Lake Champlain Islands
St Anne's Shrine

The history of Saint Anne's Shrine is intertwined with the early exploration of Lake Champlain and the establishment of French presence in the region. The first French outpost was built on Isle La Motte, and over the years, the site grew in importance as a place of worship and pilgrimage. Today, the shrine continues to honor Saint Anne, the patroness of Quebec and the mother of the Virgin Mary.

Visiting the Peaceful Grounds of the Shrine by Lake Champlain

The peaceful grounds of Saint Anne's Shrine offer a serene ambiance for prayer, reflection, and contemplation. Nestled by the shores of Lake Champlain, visitors can immerse themselves in the tranquil atmosphere and enjoy breathtaking views of the lake. The lush greenery and well-maintained gardens create a serene setting that encourages a sense of peace and reverence. Here's more info about what you'll find:

Key Features of Saint Anne's Shrine
1. St. Anne's Shrine Church: A beautiful place of worship where visitors can attend mass and participate in religious ceremonies.
2. Outdoor Stations of the Cross: A pathway featuring sculptures depicting the crucifixion of Jesus, providing a reflective journey for visitors.
3. Peace Garden: A serene garden dedicated to peace and tranquility, providing a space for visitors to find solace and inner peace.
4. Shrine Museum: A place where visitors can explore the history and significance of Saint Anne's Shrine through exhibits and artifacts.

Visiting Saint Anne's Shrine is an opportunity to connect with the island's rich history and experience a sense of spirituality in a peaceful and serene environment. Whether you are seeking a place of prayer, a moment of personal reflection, or a deeper understanding of the island's cultural heritage, this historical and spiritual landmark offers a unique and meaningful experience. It really is a beautiful and remarkable place!

Outdoor Adventures in Isle La Motte, Vermont

Isle La Motte, Vermont, offers endless opportunities for outdoor adventures. Whether you're a nature enthusiast, an avid cyclist, or a water sports lover, this island paradise has something for everyone. Explore the scenic routes, embark on a self-guided tour, or immerse yourself in thrilling water activities in the beautiful waters of Lake Champlain. The Champlain Islands is THE place to go for waterskiing, boating, fishing and just about any type of water sport. More on this below!

Biking the Scenic Routes of Isle La Motte

For biking enthusiasts, Isle La Motte's scenic routes provide the perfect opportunity to explore the island's natural beauty. Pedal your way through picturesque landscapes, taking in breathtaking views of Lake Champlain along the way. Feel the refreshing breeze as you ride through charming towns and discover the hidden gems that Isle La Motte has to offer. Take a ride north to Alburgh, where you will pass by many farms, fields and gorgeous lake views.

Water Activities in the Waters of Lake Champlain

With its proximity to Lake Champlain, Isle La Motte offers an array of water activities to satisfy every aquatic adventurer. Dive into the crystal-clear waters for a refreshing swim, or sail along the gentle waves as you soak up the sun. Cast your fishing line and reel in the catch of the day, or paddle your way through peaceful coves and explore the picturesque shoreline by kayak or paddleboard. The possibilities are endless in the sparkling waters of Lake Champlain.

The Quarry System and Its Impact on Isle La Motte's Development

The quarries of Isle La Motte have played a significant role in the island's development, contributing to its economic and historical significance. These quarries have shaped the local economy and provided valuable resources for various construction projects in the area.

From Fisk Quarry to Isle La Motte Light: Tracing the Island's Heritage

One notable quarry in Isle La Motte is the Fisk Quarry, which has played a crucial role in the island's history. Fisk Quarry is recognized as one of the oldest and largest limestone quarries in Vermont. Its stone has been used in the construction of notable structures such as the Grand Central Terminal in New York City.

Another significant landmark connected to the quarry system is the Isle La Motte Light. This historic lighthouse stands as a testament to the importance of the quarries in the region. It served as a guiding light for sailors and symbolizes the island's historical ties to the quarry industry.

Lighthouse to Quarry: A Self-guided Tour of the Island

Embark on a self-guided tour from the historic lighthouse to the enchanting quarry, and delve into the island's rich natural and cultural heritage. Start your journey at the Isle La Motte lighthouse. Because the lighthouse in now private property, there is only a limited view from land which you can get to by driving down North Point Road. If you're lucky enough to pass by Isle La Motte in a boat, on Lake Champlain, the view will be much better.

Follow the trail as it weaves through the captivating landscape, leading you to the fascinating Fisk Quarry. Immerse yourself in the island's history and geology, uncovering the hidden stories behind its breathtaking landmarks.

The quarry system of Isle La Motte has left a lasting impact on the island's development and identity. The economic and historical significance of the quarries are inextricably linked, reflecting the intertwined nature of the local economy and the preservation of the island's heritage.

The Economic and Historical Significance of Quarries in Isle La Motte

The quarries in Isle La Motte hold great economic significance for the community. They have created employment opportunities for local residents, stimulating the growth of the region. The extraction of stone from these quarries has not only supported the construction industry but also provided a sustainable source of income for the people of Isle La Motte.

Moreover, the quarries have historical significance, reflecting the island's rich heritage. The stone extracted from these quarries has been used to construct numerous buildings and landmarks throughout the region, preserving the history and culture of Isle La Motte.

Planning Your Trip to Isle La Motte in 2024

What to Know Before Visiting Isle La Motte, Vermont

Before embarking on your journey to Isle La Motte, there are a few important things to know to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip. Here are some key considerations:

  • Transportation Options: Isle La Motte can be accessed by car, with major highways connecting it to nearby cities and towns. There are also ferry services in Grand Isle to Plattsburgh, NY, and vice-versa, available for those looking for a Lake Champlain scenic route via boat.
  • Accommodations: The island offers a range of accommodations, including cozy bed and breakfasts, waterfront cottages, and campsites. It's recommended to make reservations in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons.
  • Local Regulations: Familiarize yourself with any local regulations and guidelines, such as fishing licenses or boating restrictions, to ensure you have a hassle-free experience.
Grand Isle Ferry

Year-Round Attractions: Making the Most of Your Visit Any Time of the Year

Isle La Motte is not just a destination for the summer months – it offers attractions and activities year-round. Here are some highlights to explore during different seasons:

  • Warmer Months: Hike through the island's nature trails, take a leisurely bike ride, or enjoy water activities such as swimming, boating, and fishing in the crystal-clear waters of Lake Champlain.
  • Cooler Months: Experience the winter wonderland of Isle La Motte with activities like snowshoeing, ice fishing, and cross-country skiing. The serene landscape covered in a blanket of snow is a sight to behold.

Tips for a Memorable Bike Ride Around Isle La Motte

Biking in Vermont

Exploring Isle La Motte on a bike is a popular choice among visitors. Here are some tips to ensure your bike ride around the island is a memorable one:

  • Choose the Right Route: Isle La Motte offers various biking routes, each showcasing a different aspect of the island's beauty. Consider your fitness level and interests when selecting a route.
  • Pack Essential Gear: Don't forget to bring your bike helmet, water bottle, and sunscreen. Dress in layers to be prepared for changing weather conditions.
  • Take Breaks and Enjoy the Scenery: Isle La Motte's scenic landscapes and picturesque views are meant to be enjoyed. Take breaks along your ride to soak in the beauty and capture memorable moments.


Discover the charm of Isle La Motte, a hidden gem nestled in the heart of Vermont's Champlain Islands. This picturesque island offers a unique blend of natural beauty, rich history, and outdoor adventures. Whether you're fascinated by geological wonders, seeking a spiritual journey, or looking for thrilling outdoor activities, Isle La Motte has it all.

Explore the island's unique geology and fossil reefs, including the world's oldest exposed reef, the Chazy fossil reef. Immerse yourself in the historical significance of Isle La Motte, from its role in the War of 1812 to the establishment of the first French outpost on Lake Champlain. Take in the breathtaking natural beauty of Lake Champlain's northernmost island, with its scenic landscapes and tranquil small towns.

Embark on outdoor adventures, such as biking along scenic routes, taking a self-guided tour from the lighthouse to the quarry, or enjoying water activities in the crystal-clear waters of Lake Champlain. Experience the economic and historical significance of the quarry system that has shaped Isle La Motte's development, from Fisk Quarry to Isle La Motte Light.

Plan your trip to Isle La Motte and uncover the hidden treasures this enchanting island has to offer. Whether you're a nature enthusiast, history buff, or adventure seeker, Isle La Motte will leave a lasting impression. Don't miss the chance to immerse yourself in the charm of this beautiful island in the heart of Lake Champlain.


Q: What makes Isle La Motte a unique destination among the Lake Champlain islands?

A: Isle La Motte stands out for its rich history and natural beauty. It's known for being part of the Champlain Islands in the corner of Vermont and has an allure that draws from its deep historical roots, including the site of Fort Sainte Anne, Vermont’s first European settlement in 1666. Its unique black limestone, part of the Chazy Fossil Reef formed 480 million years ago, showcases a significant chapter of Earth's history. These distinct features, alongside its picturesque landscapes, make it a unique destination.

Q: Can you provide information about historical attractions on Isle La Motte?

A: Certainly! Isle La Motte is home to several historical sites that captivate the interest of history buffs. One of the most prominent is Fisk Farm, which offers a glimpse into the island's past and cultural heritage. Fisk Farm is a secluded haven with cottages for vacationers that promotes the arts and natural and historic preservation.

Additionally, the Isle La Motte Historical Society, housed in the old town hall, gives visitors a deep dive into the island’s rich history, from its formation 480 million years ago to its role in the construction of the U.S. The remnants of Fort Sainte Anne also offer a fascinating look at the first European settlement in what is now Vermont.

Q: What are some outdoor activities available on Isle La Motte?

A: Isle La Motte offers a plethora of outdoor activities due to its scenic landscape and location in Lake Champlain. Visitors can enjoy biking and exploring the small, scenic roads that crisscross the island. Boating, fishing, and kayaking are popular activities, with access to pristine waters provided by the Vermont Fish and Game League and other local facilities. Bird watching and hiking around the island's wetlands and natural reserves offer a great way to connect with nature.

Q: Are there any accommodations or places to stay while visiting Isle La Motte?

A: While Isle La Motte is a small town in Grand Isle County, it offers several charming accommodations that reflect its serene and inviting atmosphere. Visitors can find cozy bed and breakfasts, cottages, and vacation rentals that provide a comfortable stay. These accommodations often offer stunning views of the surrounding Lake Champlain and access to private beaches. Checking platforms like TripAdvisor can help you find the perfect place to stay based on reviews and ratings.

Q: How does Isle La Motte fit into the history of the Champlain Valley?

A: Isle La Motte plays a crucial role in the history of the Champlain Valley, particularly its early European exploration and settlement. It was here that Samuel de Champlain and French settlers established Fort Sainte Anne in 1666, marking the first European settlement in Vermont. Its strategic location on Lake Champlain made it a focal point for interactions between French settlers, Iroquois, and later, British forces. The island's unique geological features, such as the black limestone part of the Chazy Fossil Reef, also contribute to the region's significant early earth history.

Q: What is the best time of year to visit Isle La Motte?

A: The best time to visit Isle La Motte is from late spring through early fall, when the weather is pleasant and conducive to exploring all the island has to offer. Summertime is particularly vibrant, with local farms and businesses in full swing, offering fresh produce and unique local crafts. The fall season provides a breathtaking backdrop of changing leaves against the shores of Lake Champlain, making it an ideal time for photography enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

Q: How accessible is Isle La Motte from major cities like Burlington or Plattsburgh?

A: Isle La Motte is relatively accessible from major nearby cities. It’s about an hour’s drive from Burlington, Vermont, through picturesque roads that lead through the Champlain Islands. From Plattsburgh, New York, the journey can take around an hour and a half, including a short and scenic ferry ride across Lake Champlain. These routes offer not just access to Isle La Motte but also spectacular views of the lake and its islands, making the journey part of the experience.

Q: Are there any dining options on Isle La Motte or should visitors plan to bring their own food?

A: Isle La Motte may be a small community, but it offers several quaint dining options that provide a range of meals, from casual to gourmet, often featuring locally sourced ingredients. There are charming cafes, grills, and seasonal establishments that not only offer delicious meals but also resonate with the island's laid-back and welcoming atmosphere. While it can be a good idea to have some provisions, especially if visiting remote parts of the island, exploring the local dining scene is definitely recommended.


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