DES MOINES - 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 for Camping Kickoff weekend, May 6, 7 and 8.
"We are hoping for a warm, dry weekend to get the state park camping season off to a great start," said Kevin Szcodronski, chief of the DNR's State Parks Bureau.
"With current gas prices and the slow economic recovery, we expect to see more families doing 'stay-cations' this year, traveling shorter distances for their vacations and finding that our state parks affordable get-aways," he said.
A little preseason work goes a long way to making a camping trip more enjoyable says Szcondronski. 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 at www.exploreiowaparks.com.
Upgrades were made earlier this year to the state parks' reservation system, including a new web site. Campsite, as well as cabin, shelter and lodge reservations can now be made at http://iowastateparks.reserveamerica.com or by calling 1-877-427-2757 between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. central time, Monday through Friday or from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Also, the number of reservable campsites has increased at some parks this year, but a certain percentage of first-come, first-served sites are still available. The campsite reservation system allows users to make reservations three months in advance of their first night camping, but campers are reminded that holiday weekends fill fast at the more popular parks. A view the campsite and its amenities, and a physical description of the campsite are available through the reservation system.
"We hope visitors will understand that tight budgets and staff shortages may keep us from doing some of the extra mowing and maintenance they may have been use to in the past," said Szcodronski, "But it will not keep us from welcoming them and doing everything we can to make their stay safe and enjoyable."