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Friday, May 6, 2011

Camping Kickoff Weekend Begins Today

It’s time to open up the camper or air out the tent and get ready for a season of relaxation and fun in Iowa’s state parks. Today begins the season's Camping Kickoff Weekend - Friday, Saturday and Sunday. 

A little pre-season work goes a long way to making a camping trip more enjoyable.  Check out some of the camping video's on the IPF Facebook page for some basic 'getting started' tips for new campers. 

Putting up the tent to check for leaks and minor repairs, making sure sleeping bags are free of holes, inventorying kitchen utensils and restocking dry goods are all important. Preparation for an RV or camper owner may be a little more involved — making sure gas lines are in working order; the water system is sanitized and leak-free; batteries are fresh or charged; blocks, jacks and hitches are operational.

And doing a little research on new outdoor recipes can be fun whether you tent camp or us an RV.  A number of helpful camping tips, recipes and checklists can be found

Upgrades were made earlier this year to the state parks’ reservation system, including a new website. Campsite — as well as cabin, shelter and lodge reservations — can now be made on-line or by calling (877) 427-2757 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday or from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Some State Park Facilities Not Available
A water leak in the campground at Emerson Bay State Park on the shores of West Okoboji Lake will likely cause the water to be shut off for the two shower buildings and to the restroom serving the popular boat ramp. Water will still be available from the water hydrants throughout the campground, the modern restroom and to the dump station.

Frank Rickerl, northwest district state parks supervisor for the Iowa DNR, said they are in the process of notifying the campers with reservations and providing them with some alternatives. "They can stay here and use the shower facilities at Gull Point, we can transfer their reservation to another park or refund their money," Rickerl said. 

In addition to being camper kickoff weekend across the state, Saturday is the opening of walleye season at the Iowa Great Lakes which draws additional campers to the region.

Other parks across the state will have features that will not be available.

At Ledges State Park, the Canyon Road and Lower Ledges Road will remain closed to vehicle traffic this spring due to ongoing flood clean-up and repair. Park visitors are welcome to hike into these areas, but vehicles are not permitted at this time.

Wilson Island State Recreation Area is closed due to flooding from the rising Missouri River. If conditions improve and the campground can be reopened, campsites will only be available on a first come basis for the rest of the year.

Campgrounds and cabins at Lake Darling and the campground at Union Grove state parks will be closed all year for a campground renovation.

The caves at Maquoketa Caves State Park are closed to prevent the spread of white nosed bat disease. Other features of the park and the campground remain open.

The beach at George Wyth State Park has been closed since damaged from the flooding in 2008. The DNR is working with Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA] officials to raise the dike, change the access to the concession, upgrade the transformer and lift station, and other landscaping.


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