DES MOINES - Campers began reserving sites last week for Memorial Day weekend and as of Tuesday morning, 15 state park campgrounds had filled their reservable sites with electricity, and many more parks are nearly out of reservations.
"Campers are ready to get out there and those who are unable to get a reservation at the park of their choice should plan to arrive early in the week, and I mean by Monday or Tuesday, if they what a walk-in campsite," said Kevin Szcodronski, chief of State Parks for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
During the past year, the state parks reservation system underwent a major change including increasing the percentage of reservable sites at select state parks.
"We have at least 50 percent of our sites reservable at each park, but during the website overhaul, we let the park staffs determine, based on campsite use, if the need was there to increase that percentage or not," Szcodronski said.
He said, for example, the staff at Lake Anita kept its percentage at 50 while the staff at Lake Ahquabi increased the percentage to 75 and both park reservation sites are full for Memorial Day.
In addition to Lake Anita and Lake Ahquabi, parks with full reservations are Backbone, Black Hawk, George Wyth, Green Valley, Lake Macbride, Lake of Three Fires, Ledges, Lewis and Clark, Pleasant Creek, Prairie Rose, Springbrook, Viking Lake and Waubonsie.
The campground at Lake Geode is walk in only until further notice. The Wilson Island campground will be walk in only for 2011, due to significant flooding in 2010 and the extensive cleanup.
A listing of reservable percentages can be found online at parks.iowadnr.gov. There is a link off that page to the reservation site. To go directly to the reservation page, go to http://iowastateparks.reserveamerica.com/. Reservations can also be made through a call center 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Central Standard Time, Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The new call center has retained the same toll-free number, 1-877-427-2757.
The online reservation system is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Customers who have bookmarked the previous reservation system website will be redirected to the new site.
"We saw a lot of campsites go pretty quickly so our campers are getting familiar with the new system," he said.