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Let the camping season begin

  • 4/11/2017 12:28:00 PM
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Warming temperatures and other signs of spring have state park staff busy preparing for the start of the 2017 camping season.

This Saturday, April 15, most state parks will have water on, and shower and restroom buildings open for campers. And on Saturday, May 6, state park campgrounds will celebrate the start of the season with a Camping Kickoff.

“We look forward to welcoming people to our parks each year,” says Todd Coffelt, chief of state parks for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, “And this year we want to kick things off with a little season opener.”

Nearly all state parks with campgrounds will offer special programs or activities on May 6, including fishing clinics, fun runs, volunteer projects, special hikes and demonstrations. A list of parks and their programs is available beginning April 13 at

Campers will also receive, for free, the May/June issue of Iowa Outdoors magazine.

Those wanting to join the Camping Kickoff celebration are encouraged to make a reservation now. Iowa has more than 4,700 state park campsites and between 50 and 75 percent of them can be reserved in advance. This year, more than 300 existing campsites were added to the reservations system, making planning vacations a little easier.

And, campers familiar with the state park reservations system will notice a significant face-lift to the website. The site not only looks more appealing, but is more user friendly, with links to state park events and social media outlets. To check out the new site and make a reservation, go to

Reservations for campsites can be made up to three months in advance of an arrival date. Currently reservations are open for two of the three major summer holidays, Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. Labor Day weekend reservations will be available beginning June 1 for a Friday arrival.

Last year, Iowa’s state parks welcomed more than 15 million visitors, and more than 900,000 of these were overnight stays. Similar numbers are expected again this year, given favorable weather conditions.

“Iowa’s state parks are becoming the go-to overnight destination for many people,” says Coffelt. “We offer campsites that appeal to a broad range of campers, from the more primitive hike-in sites to those with all the popular amenities.”

And if camping isn’t your thing, a total of 92 cabins are available to rent in 19 state parks, reminds Coffelt.

Cabins start at $25 per day for simple camping cabins and range to $200 per day for the multi-family cabin at Springbrook State Park. Cabin reservations can be made up to a year in advance. During the peak season, between Memorial Day and Labor Day, many cabins will require a seven-day minimum stay, however from now until Memorial Day weekend, all cabins rent for two-day minimums.

Visit for more information about campsites, cabins, events, closures and to sign up to receive State Parks News electronically. For more information about the May 6 Camping Kickoff, visit  beginning April 13.