Places We Protect

Otter Creek Swamps Natural Area


A lush, green, wetland.
Otter Creek Swamps Marsh and floodplain forests provide habitat, naturally filter sediments and nutrients from our waterways, and buffer us from the impacts of floods--a conservation win, win, win. © Bob Klein

Anglers and birders find a piece of paradise in this vast swamp complex.



Otter Creek, Vermont's longest river, runs for 32 miles through the largest and most biologically diverse swamp complex in New England. The swamps that surround the creek are teeming with wildlife. In the summer wide-ranging mammals like bear, moose and bobcat feed here. Otter Creek Swamps is also one of the most important stopover areas for migratory waterfowl in the region.

There are seven named swamps along Otter Creek—Brandon, Leicester Junction, Long, Salisbury, Whiting, Middlebury and Cornwall Swamps—which are all part of the larger wetland system. Cornwall Swamp was designated a National Natural Landmark by the U.S. National Park Service in 1974. TNC helped the State of Vermont acquire portions of the Cornwall Swamp Wildlife Management Area.

Why TNC Selected This Site

The Otter Creek Swamp complex is the most biologically diverse wetland complex in New England. The complex is an important lowland habitat bridge for wide-ranging animals like bobcats, bear and moose.

What TNC is Doing

TNC is working in concert with Middlebury College and the federal Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program to restore portions of the swamp complex. TNC also continues to purchase land and easements in the Otter Creek Swamps.




Come see the variety of plants and animals at Otter Creek Swamps.


714 acres

Explore our work in Vermont

Otter Creek is an ideal waterway for flat water canoeing. See directions below for canoe access. Please read our Preserve Visitation Guidelines.

What to See: Plants

At least 10 different natural community types and variants are represented in the Otter Creek Swamps, including red maple-black ash swamp, northern white cedar swamp, floodplain forest and sedge meadow. One of only three examples of the red maple-white pine-huckleberry swamp documented in Vermont is located here, and the largest example of red maple-northern white cedar swamp in New England occurs in the swamp complex.

There are 32 rare and uncommon plant species in the swamp, including eastern Jacob's ladder, American hazelnut, nodding trillium and cuckoo flower.

What to See: Animals

Over 43 species of birds have been seen in the swamps, including as many as 15 different species of migrating waterfowl. In the spring flocks of mallards, pintails, American widgeons, green- and blue-winged teals, buffleheads and snow geese, as well as unusual visitors like tundra swans, congregate on the flooded fields bordering Otter Creek.

Blue-spotted salamanders live in the Salisbury Swamp, and significant populations of uncommon species like the four-toed salamander and the wood turtle have been identified within the wetland complex.