A handful of campsites with electricity remain available for reservation in Iowa’s state parks for the busiest weekend of the summer. As of Tuesday morning, Lake Keomah, Honey Creek, Maquoketa Caves, Pikes Peak, Pilot Knob and Red Haw state parks each have a site or a few sites remaining for the July 4 weekend. All other parks have filled, except for handicap accessible sites.
Campers who do not have a campsite reserved can try to secure one of the walk-in sites with electricity, but park officials cannot guarantee any will be available.
“If we are not already full, we will likely be filled by mid week,” said Kevin Szcodronski, chief of State Parks for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
The number of state park campsites was reduced this year because the flooding Missouri River has closed the campgrounds at Lake Manawa, Lewis and Clark, and Wilson Island. Lake Manawa remains open for day use activities but the lake has been temporarily declared no-wake for boaters due to high water levels hiding boat docks and other hazards and potential impacts on private property caused by boats and wave action.
The July 4 holiday is the busiest time in state parks making camper etiquette a high priority.
“The campground will be full so campers will need to be mindful of their neighbors, keep the noise level down, pick up after themselves, be patient when setting up and while in line at the dump station,” he said.
The early weather forecast calls for favorable conditions and warm temperatures. Campers should plan to bring sunscreen, bug repellant and plenty of water.
“I would encourage our campers to try something new this weekend. Go on a hike, meet your neighbor, bring some binoculars and a ‘Birds of Iowa’ book and see how many different birds you can find, go fishing or hit the beach,” Szcodronski said. “Our parks have a lot to offer and no two parks are the same.”
For the latest information on individual parks and park facilities go to parks.iowadnr.gov
Parks Closed for Construction
Lake Darling State Park
Union Grove State Park
Lewis and Clark State Park
Wilson Island State Recreation Area
Lake Manawa State Park Campground [park remains open]
George Wyth State Park: Beach is closed for extensive reconstruction from the 2008 flood.
Ledges State Park: Canyon Road and Lower Canyon Road is closed to vehicle traffic for flood damage repair and clean up. The area is open to hikers.
Maquoketa Caves State Park: 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.
New Firewood Rules
All firewood sold or acquired in Iowa must have a label with the county and state of harvest location and on 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.
Boating While Intoxicated:
Beginning July 1, the blood alcohol level for boating while intoxicated in Iowa changes from .10 to .08.
The DNR is restricting boats operating on Lake Manawa to no-wake speeds effective immediately to minimize the impact of the high water to infrastructure around the lake. Many of the docks are now submerged and could pose a safety hazard to boats operating at higher speeds.
There are a few boating rule changes on Lake Rathbun, including a 5 mph zone in the Honey Creek arm and a 5 mph zone in the Buck Creek shoot near the marina. Boaters are encouraged to slow down and read the buoys. Check the lake rules for any updates or changes from previous years. The new buoys are part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers required navigation plan for the lake.