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Friday, May 20, 2011

Will You Be Camping on Memorial Day Weekend?

Memorial Day Camping Checklist
The first major camping holiday is right around the corner and many campgrounds have already been booked months in advance. Memorial Day weekend always seems to kick off the summer and camping season. The weather is warming up, and the spring rains have produced every shade of emerald across the landscape.

1. Selecting Your Campground:
Memorial Day Camping is very popular across the state which usually leads crowded campgrounds. Depending on the type of experience that you are looking for, now would be a great time to learn more about the various campgrounds in your area or the area where you will be traveling to. Campground amenities vary quite a bit from site to site, and generally the campgrounds with more amenities tend to be more popular. Beach Campgrounds, including sites on lakes and rivers are always popular Memorial Day Camping spots.

If you are looking to avoid some of the Memorial Day crowds, take a look at some of the less popular campground with the same area. From my experience Forestry sites are not as popular as State Park Campgrounds, County Park Campgrounds or Private Campgrounds, while offering similar amenities and the same area attractions.

2. Make a ReservationSometime selecting the campground isn’t the tough part. Often it’s getting and reserving your favorite campsite. You know the one thats close to the bathrooms, but far enough that you don’t smell them. These campsites tend to get reserved quickly and well in advance. If you haven’t reserved a site by now there is a good chance its already spoken for, but double check the campground reservations to be 100% sure. As Memorial Day weekend approaches many campers release their reservations so new sites are frequently becoming available.

First come first serve sites are great for weekends like Memorial Day weekends. Because there’s no reservation in place, you can often claim popular sites by arriving at empty site early in the morning, or perhaps the night before. Both great first come first serve techniques. If you do find a spot, be sure to throw down some gear, or leave a person behind while another visits the campground host or park entrance to pay for the site.

3. Check Your Gear
There’s a good chance that this is the first time you’ll be camping this year. Before you get out to the campsite to discover half of the tent stakes are missing, lighter is empty or batteries dead, check it all out. We usually pull out the tent and give it a good cleaning and shake off any dust that may of settled. We also like to clean the sleeping bags, cloths, and towels. Pull out your master camping list and ensure everything that you take is in working order.

Near Capacity Campgrounds Expected for Memorial Day Weekend 

Iowa State Parks will be filled to near capacity for the Memorial Day weekend as many of the reservable campsites were snapped up in late February. Campers who are still looking for a site should call the park early to see if any walk-up sites are available.

Kevin Szcodronski, chief of the State Parks Bureau with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, said his staff is been busy preparing parks for the first major holiday of the season.

"It seems like there is never enough time in the day to get all the work done to prepare for the first holiday, but we have a dedicated staff who put in the time, love what they do, and know many of their campers by name," Szcodronski said.

Campers will begin arriving a few days ahead of the holiday until the parks fill to capacity on Friday evening.

"We are going to be full," Szcodronski said. "We like to remind our campers to be respectful of each other, be patient, pick-up after yourself and to help us maintain the park by leaving the site in as good of shape or better then you found it."

He also suggested using the full campground as an opportunity to reach out to the new neighbors and make new friends.

"Try something new and different this year. Visit with campers on a neighboring site, enjoy the natural beauty, go on a nature hike and see the wildlife or the scenic vista along the trail. Challenge yourself to find something new," he said.

Memorial Day weekend weather can be unpredictable so campers should make plans in case of rain.

For information on Iowa State Parks, go to 

Parks Dos and Don'ts 
… bring fireworks
… burn trash
… bring fishing poles
… observe quiet hours
… pick up after yourself
… bring a first aid kit and sunscreen 

New Firewood Rules
Beginning Jan. 1, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship has required all firewood sold or acquired in Iowa to have the county and state of harvest location on the label of packages and the delivery ticket for bulk firewood. The rules were added to prevent the spread of invasive species.

The rules only apply to firewood sold and acquired in Iowa.
The rule also requires the Iowa DNR to collect firewood from campers that does not have a label.

Campgrounds Closed for Construction:
Lake Darling
Union Grove

Parks Closed due to Flooding:
Wilson Island code=ipf_trackingcode

1 comment:

  1. Geode State Park Shower Buildings Open in Time for Memorial Day Weekend

    The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has reopened the Geode State Park campground shower buildings for the Memorial Day weekend after resolving lagoon capacity issues with the park's wastewater treatment system.

    Currently, only walk-in campsites offering electricity remain available and campers wanting one of those remaining sites should plan to arrive as early as possible.

    "Geode is a scenic park with a popular campground and a dedicated following," said Tom Basten, state parks district supervisor for southeast Iowa.

    Geode State Park has a 174-acre lake known for excellent fishing for trophy sized largemouth bass and bluegills, as well as channel catfish and crappies.

    Geode State Park is 15 miles west of Burlington, on the Henry-Des Moines County line.