Anyone that plans to go camping at a state park in Iowa this holiday weekend may be out of luck if they haven’t already reserved a site. Greg Van Fosson, with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources , says the reservable campsites with electricity are all spoken for and most first-come, first-serve sites are likely gone as well.
"It’s always a good idea to call ahead, especially to the larger (parks), and see how the availability is shaping up," Van Fosson advised for those people still looking for a campsite. For most campers, this weekend will mark their first outing of the year.
Van Fosson says it’s a good idea to create a check list to make sure you pack all the items you may need. Essential camping supplies may include a flashlight, batteries, matches, a can opener, ponchos and garbage bags. "Always remember the charcoal, cooking utensils and bring plenty of bug spray," Van Fossen said. "This year, it’s very important to bring local firewood. With the Emerald Ash Borer, we don’t want anybody bringing out of state firewood, so we’ll be watching for that."
The Emerald Ash Borer is a nasty pest that has destroyed millions of trees in other midwestern states, including Illinois and Michigan. Van Fosson is encouraging Iowans, who haven’t visited a state park in several years, to consider doing so this summer.
"Most of our state parks are about the same as they’ve always been, but the conveniences have greatly improved over the years. Some of our trails are now paved, we have modern shower and restroom facilities, playgrounds…we have concessions that rent more modern boats and things like that," Van Fosson said.
There’s also a new law that boaters in Iowa need to follow. It requires children under the age of 13 to wear a life jacket while in a boat that’s on an Iowa lake or river. The Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends are typically the busiest weekends of the year for Iowa’s state parks.