Campsites will be hard to come by for Memorial Day weekend.
Most sites were snapped up months ago and any remaining are available on a first come basis and likely claimed early this week.
The Memorial Day weekend camping is traditionally the start of Iowa’s busy outdoor summer recreation season and the second busiest weekend of the year next to July 4 for Iowa’s state parks.
“This has been such a different year weather-wise, that many of our campers have already been out a time or two, rather than this weekend being the maiden voyage,” said Kevin Szcodronski, chief of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources State Parks Bureau.
The weekend forecast calls for a slight chance of showers, but overall good conditions for campers, as well as anglers, wildlife watchers and trail users.
“Our trails are great venues to get some exercise while enjoying the outdoors,” he said.
The trails and all of state parks will likely be in better condition than the same time last year after the legislature provided funding for additional seasonal works that began last July.
While the parks are not perfect, the added staff has really helped reduce the maintenance backlog.
“Seasonal staff is the lifeblood for our parks. They do most of the mowing and cleaning and while we are not back to the staff level from a couple of years ago, these additional bodies do help,” said Szcodronski.
Even with the added staff, Szcodronski said campers can help with park upkeep by taking care of their campsite and cleaning up after themselves.
They can also be good neighbors by observing quiet hours.
“It’s fun to sit around the campfire and shoot the breeze, but one loud campsite can ruin the experience for a lot of people,” he said.
- Keep track of the weather and have a plan in case of severe weather
- Plan to arrive as early in the day to set up the site, look for potential problems and avoid those areas
- Prepare ingredients for meals before leaving home for less time cooking and more time playing
- Bug spray, sun screen and a basic first-aid kit are must haves
- Check the registration kiosk for activities in the area
- Don’t burn trash
- Don’t bring fireworks
- Be a good neighbor. Observe quiet hours and pick up after yourself
The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship requires 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.
The campgrounds at Union Grove, Lake Darling, and Wilson Island state parks are closed for improvements and repair from flood damage.
Ledges State Park – There is a chance that the clean up and repairs on Lower Canyon Road could be done in time to reopen for the Memorial Day weekend, weather permitting.
Clear Lake State Park – Two new dump stations are installed and the south side dump station is now open. Both stations offer fresh water to fill tanks. Work on the full hook up sites is being completed and the areas seeded. Once grass is growing the sites will be open for use.
Two modern cabins are open for business
A new one bedroom cabin at Nine Eagles State Park is available for overnight stays from April 1 to October 31. The cabin will be included on the DNR’s parks reservation system later but until then, it may be reserved by contacting the park staff at 641-442-2825.
The cabin features a futon couch that turns into a second bed, full bathroom, kitchen, heat and air, and a covered deck with a grill, picnic table and Adirondack chairs, nestled in the woods on a ridge top overlooking the beach.
A new one bedroom cabin at Union Grove State Park is available for overnight stays year-round. The cabin will be included on the DNR’s parks reservation system later, but until then, it may be reserved by contacting the park staff at 641-473-2556.
The cabin features a futon couch that turns into a second bed, full bathroom, kitchen, heat and air, and a covered patio with a grill, picnic table and Adirondack chairs. The cabin is adjacent to the campground, with a view of the lake.