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Iowa’s state parks are gearing up to welcome thousands of campers, cabin renters, picnickers and outdoor enthusiasts for the Fourth of July weekend.
“State parks are great destinations for these major summer holidays,” says Todd Coffelt, DNR State Parks Bureau chief. “Whether you are staying for a week or making a day trip, they provide great opportunities for families and friends to gather and make memories.”
Most electric campsites on the reservation system for the holiday weekend filled three months ago. A few state parks have one electric site available and Beed’s Lake, Red Haw, Lake Keomah and Pilot Knob currently have multiple standard electric campsites available for Fourth of July reservations.
There are plenty of non-electric sites available for the holiday at most state parks.
Last minute campers can also take their chances with walk-in campsites, as 25-50 percent of all state park campsites are first-come, first-served. Realistically most will be occupied ahead of the holiday weekend. Best chances to secure a site will be at smaller, more remote parks.
“You don’t have to stay overnight to enjoy our state parks,” says Coffelt. “We have a wide variety of things to do for our day-use visitors, too.”
Beautiful lodges and shelters offer great options for day visitors planning summer reunions, birthday parties and other gatherings. Dozens of these day-use facilities are still available to reserve for the Fourth of July weekend.
“Whatever the plan, whether it’s to stay overnight or simply drop in to picnic, fish, boat or hike,” says Coffelt, “we hope people will make Iowa state parks their destinations this Fourth of July weekend.”
Visit www.iowadnr.gov/stateparks for a list of parks and their amenities, and check the parks reservation site at http://iowastateparks.reserveamerica.com for availability of campsites and other day-use facilities.
Reminders to State Park Visitors
The new fireworks law does not change what state parks currently allow. Individuals have been and will continue to be allowed to use what are called novelties, which include party poppers, snappers, toy smoke devices, snakes, glow worms, wire sparklers and dipped sticks. A special event "fireworks" permit is still required to use all other fireworks in parks. For additional information on special event permits go to https://www.iowadnr.gov/Things-to-Do/Camping/Rules-Regulations/Special-Events
It is strongly recommended that firewood should be obtained only within the county where it will be burned. It is important not move firewood from county to county or state to state to prevent the spread of forest pests.
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 rule was added to prevent the spread of invasive species and applies only 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.
Visitors are reminded that an alcohol ban is in effect for the beaches at Lake Macbride State Park and Pleasant Creek State Recreation Area.
The ban applies to the sand area of the beach, a 200-foot buffer of land surrounding the sand and the designated swimming area adjacent to the beach as marked by buoys or swim lines.
Pleasant Creek’s beach remains closed due to recent lake renovation and will reopen when the lake has filled.
Alerts and Closures
Closure and alert information is posted on the DNR website at www.iowadnr.gov/parkclosures. Park visitors are encouraged to check this site before travelling, as weather and other events sometimes impact trails and facilities in the parks. Current information is also available by calling individual park offices directly.
All cabins are reserved for the Fourth of July weekend; however, the following state parks have one or more cabins available to rent for the weekend, beginning June 23:
· Backbone 563-924-2527
· Black Hawk 712-657-8712
· Lacey-Keosauqua 319-293-3502
· Lake of Three Fires 712-523-2700
· Nine Eagles 641-442-2855
· Palisades-Kepler 319-895-6039
· Pine Lake 641-858-5832
· Union Grove 641-473-2556
· Waubonsie 712-382-2786
These cabins normally require a one-week minimum stay, but are available for only a two night minimum stay this weekend by contacting the individual park office.
Iowa’s state parks have a total of 93 family cabins, multifamily cabins, camping cabins and yurts. They can be reserved a year in advance for those who want to plan ahead for next year’s Fourth of July.