The calendar says February, but spring is just around the corner. Camping kickoff weekend is a little over two months away.
Camping kickoff weekend is May 6, 7 and 8, in Iowa state parks, and has often been the first weekend trip for many campers.
"Camping kickoff weekend is our way of saying let's dust off the tent and camper and get back outside after a long winter and enjoy some camaraderie in a state park," said Kevin Szcodronski, chief of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources State Parks Bureau.
Campers can reserve a site for camping kickoff weekend using the new reservation system online at http://iowastateparks.reserveamerica.com/ Campers will need to register with the system before reserving a site. Campers who have registered with Reserve America before can sign in under their existing account.
Camping kickoff weekend happens to also be a prime time for fishing, as many fish are active, close to shore and preparing to spawn.
"Early May is really a good time to spend in the parks because the bugs are typically not out yet, fishing is good and the surrounding park is going through its spring awakening," Szcodronski said.
In the past, the DNR had offered some incentives to campers who participated in the opening weekend, but that is no longer the case.
"Iowans care deeply about their parks and we want campers to know that we are working hard to offer them the best experience and facilities that we can, with the resources we have available," he said.
"All season long, we will be encouraging our campers and other park users to help us to keep our expenses down by turning off lights and air conditioners when they are not needed and to pick up after themselves and only burn firewood in the fire rings," he said.
Camping Kickoff Weekend was started in 2003, as a way to encourage Iowa residents to spend time in their state parks.