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Peak camping season begins May 1

  • 4/30/2024 11:44:00 AM
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Iowa state parks and forest staff are busy preparing for the summer camping season, turning on water, sprucing up campgrounds and freshening up bathroom, cabin, lodge and shelter facilities. With more than 864,000 campers and almost 14 million visitor days last year, state parks are anticipating another busy season. For park visitors, there will be some new things to see.

Recently renovated and 100 percent reservable sites

Pikes Peak and Lake Ahquabi state parks, two of Iowa’s most popular campgrounds, reopened in July 2023 after undergoing extensive renovations. Both campgrounds feature electrical upgrades, pull-through driveways and a reduction in the number of campsites to create more space for large vehicles. 

Both the Pikes Peak and Lake Ahquabi campgrounds also switched to 100 percent reservable sites, allowing for campers to see availability in real time. The change has been popular with campers who enjoy the increased convenience and peace of mind for trip planning. Additional campgrounds switching to 100 percent reservable in 2024 include Ambrose A. Call, Ledges, Lewis and Clark, Pleasant Creek, Wilson Island and Clear Lake. 

Other new or renovated amenities in the state park system:

  • George Wyth State Park – Cedar Valley Trail 1.3 miles reconstruction
  • Twin Lakes – new boat ramp
  • Lake Macbride – new boat ramp, parking lot resurfacing and new fishing dock 
  • Rock Creek State Park – new water lines and sewer repairs
  • Green Valley State Park – renovated fishing pier, spillway repair and sewer repairs 
  • Beeds Lake – new dump station at the campground 

Current construction and renovation projects

State parks are also busy with several new construction projects. Some of these projects will temporarily close parts or all of the listed parks in the 2024 season. Park visitors can go to www.iowadnr.gov/parkclosures for latest information on any closures. 

2024 projects include:

  • Clear Lake campground - renovations will start around August 1 to update electrical facilities, campsite design and roadways
  • Red Haw – campground renovations and shelter construction have begun after major damage caused by a tornado in March 2022
  • Lake Ahquabi – lodge and shelter renovations
  • Fort Atkinson – restoration of historic buildings, closing the park to visitors until mid-July 
  • Brushy Creek – campground renovations starting around August 1
  • Pleasant Creek – campground renovations starting around October 1
  • Lake Manawa – concession building remodel 
  • Ledges – new shower building and shelter renovation  
  • McIntosh Woods – shelter renovation  
  • Wapsipinicon – flood repairs, renovating river wing dams
  • Big Creek – fishing pier renovations
  • Road resurfacing in Palisades-Kepler, Wildcat Den, Pleasant Creek, Elk Rock and Lake Manawa 

To learn more about Iowa state parks, go to iowadnr.gov/stateparks or make a reservation at https://iowastateparks.reserveamerica.com/

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