With warmer weather finally in the forecast, some Iowans may be thinking about breaking out their tent and hiking boots, as May usually marks the arrival of camping season.
Todd Coffelt, chief of the Iowa DNR state parks bureau, says several facilities have gotten a major overhaul, like Wilson Island State Park near the western Iowa town of Missouri Valley. “That park was damaged by floodwaters from the Missouri River,” Coffelt says. “There’s been a tremendous effort to restore the buildings, the electricity, the camping pads and all the facilities. As people show up, it’s going to look a little different but it’ll still have that flavor of being a great outdoor opportunity in a great part of the state.”
Coffelt says a lot of work has also been done in the off-season at Big Creek State Park, located in Polk City north of Des Moines. “We’ve replaced the shelters and the cabanas with a brand new architecture that I’m thinking park users are going to say is a tremendous asset to the park,” he says. “They’re larger and will cover a bigger area and will be able to hold larger groups that will be able to enjoy the beach and the playground set there, one of the bigger ones in the state.”
In southeast Iowa’s Washington County, Coffelt says Lake Darling State Park is ready for its first visitors. “We have a brand new park with a brand new lake where the valve has been closed and it’s full of water,” he says. “We have new camping pads, a new road, a new shower building, new electricity, so, as the recreational user changes a little bit, we’ll be able to host them with a greater user experience that we’re trying to maximize for everyone who attends.”
Reservations at state park sites for Memorial Day and the 4th of July weekends are already filling up. Learn more at: www.iowadnr.gov/parks
(Reporting by Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)