Dan Dawson

A bill eligible for debate in the Iowa Senate would let state officials charge varying camping and lodging fees at state parks. Senator Dan Dawson of Council Bluffs says it would allow officials to employ “dynamic pricing.”

“There are peak times and non-peak times and we have a bunch of great properties and we have to ask ourselves: ‘How can we bring more traffic there?’ — especially in non-peak times, because it’s better for everyone in the end,” Dawson says.

Dawson envisions varying fees for lodging and camping spots within a state park.

“There might be a lake there where the more desirable cabins are down by the lake as opposed to a little far removed,” Dawson says.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources oversees the state’s parks, reserves and forests. There are more than 4700 campsites within those state-owned properties.

“We’ve got great parks. We’ve built some brand new cabins over the last few years and they’re just fabulous,” Dawson says, “And we ask ourselves: ‘How can we get more traffic there?’ So I think this is kind of creative a great way to drive that traffic.”

Another senator suggests say state officials might opt for two-nights-for-one pricing specials during the early spring and late fall to attract more off-season campers. The bill got unanimous approval in the Senate Ways and Means Committee yesterday.