Pack up the tent and sleeping bags, as Iowa’s state parks are hosting Camping Kickoff Weekend today through Sunday.

Todd Coffelt, the state parks director at the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, says everything is ready for Iowans to enjoy. “We’ve got all of the facilities hooked up, the water and utilities, and we want people to get out and enjoy the outdoors,” Coffelt says. “Our state parks system is nearing 100 years old so it’s an opportunity for people to take a look at it with a different lens.”

You can use either of two websites to make reservations for camping spots. “They can do a search on the DNR webpage,, to find a place to visit,” Coffelt says, “or they can go to, and that will be the direct line where they can set a reservation at their favorite park.”

Iowa has more than 4,700 state park campsites and 75% of them can be reserved in advance. Coffelt said there are two parks that have temporarily closed their camping facilities for renovation — Ledges and Marble Beach at Gull Point — but Iowans will notice plenty of improvements elsewhere.

“Pleasant Creek will have more water in it and it’s a park that’s been closed with our Lakes Restoration Program and people will now be able to get access there,” Coffelt says. “You’re going to see Lake MacBride is back up and moving, Lake Wapello is back open, and Waubonsie, down in southwest Iowa. We’ve made a lot of effort to get these parks up and running.”

More than 30 state parks are hosting special activities this weekend (May 4-6), including kayaking clinics, fun runs, night sky hikes, volunteer projects and more.

(By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)