All of the reservable campsites with electricity in Iowa’s state parks have been claimed for the last big weekend of the summer camping season. Iowa Department of Natural Resources State Parks Bureau Chief Kevin Szcodronski says the number of people visiting state parks in Iowa increased last year and he expects the final figures will show another jump this year.
“Our visitation is really up,” Szcodronski said. “People have been dodging the weather. Even though we had some parks that were closed because of flooding and bad weather, we’re still showing pretty good numbers.” Some park manager are reporting a 20% increase in campers and visitors. Szcodronski anticipates the statewide average will be closer to 5 to 7%.
“Which is pretty good during these times when we have reduced money and staffing to take care of our parks. We must still be doing a good enough job because people still want to come out and visit them,” Szcodronski said. The general operating budget for the Iowa D.N.R. has been cut over 30% over the past two years.
Szcodronski credits the slow economy for the rise in state park visitors. He says Iowans are still taking vacations, but staying closer to home. “During these tough economic times, people kind of gravitate to the outdoors and state parks because they’re places that you can kind of get away from the daily pressures,” Szcodronski said. “We don’t have an entrance fee at state parks, so we’re kind of an inexpensive getaway.”
There are 48 “full service” state parks in Iowa – parks that offer campsites with sewer, water and electricity hookups.