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DES MOINES ⎯ As Iowans eagerly anticipate warmer temperatures, state park staff are preparing for the start of the 2019 camping season. The first weekend of May marks the official launch of the summer camping season with Iowa State Parks’ annual Camping Kickoff celebration.
“Year of the Volunteer” is the focus of this year’s Camping Kickoff celebration as the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) anticipates its 100th anniversary in 2020.
“We greatly appreciate our parks volunteer’s support and assistance as we prepare for our centennial anniversary next year,” said Todd Coffelt, chief of State Parks Bureau for the Iowa DNR. “Camping Kickoff is our way of showing appreciation for our campers, and this year’s events focus on volunteerism and activities the entire family can enjoy.”
More than 30 state parks will host volunteer events and special activities the weekend of May 3-5, including park clean-ups, tree planting, fun runs, kayaking clinics and more. A list of parks and their programs is available online at www.iowadnr.gov/campingkickoff.
Camping Kickoff weekend campers will also receive a free issue of the Iowa DNR's Iowa Outdoors magazine.
Those wanting to join the Camping Kickoff celebration are encouraged to make their reservation soon. Iowa has more than 4,700 state park campsites; 75 percent of which may be reserved in advance. A link to the reservation site is available off the State Parks webpage at www.iowadnr.gov/stateparks.
“Iowa state parks are beloved overnight destinations for many people,” says Coffelt. “We offer campsites that appeal to a broad range of campers, from the more rustic hike-in sites to those with all the popular amenities.”
If camping isn’t your style, there are 93 cabins available to rent across 19 state parks, reminds Coffelt. In the off season from Labor Day to Memorial Day, cabins can be rented for a two-night minimum stay. During the peak of summer, most cabins require a seven-day minimum visit.
By mid-April, most state parks have water turned on, with shower and restroom buildings open for campers. For the latest state park news, updates and information about campsites, cabins, events and more, visit www.iowadnr.gov/stateparks and sign up for the Iowa State Parks electronic newsletter.