The Memorial Day weekend start to the camping season looked to be dampened like a lot of other things by the coronavirus until the announcement that many restrictions would be lifted early.
Department of Natural Resources director, Kayla Lyon, made the announcement at the governor’s daily briefing Wednesday.
“We will be opening all modern restrooms, show building and cabins at our Iowa state parks starting this Friday, May 22nd, in time for the Memorial weekend,” Lyon said. “This means campgrounds will be open to all campers — including RVs, pop-ups and tent camping.”
Lyon says not everything will be back to normal in the state parks. “Youth group campsites will remain closed as well shelters, lodges, playgrounds, other group camps, museums, and visitor centers,” she said. Lyon says they will continue some of the restrictions designed to maintain social distancing.
“Only campers with overnight reservations will be allowed. No visitors. Only campers occupying the individual campsite will be allowed to gather around the campfire — no guests or large groups,” according to Lyon. “Only six overnight occupants per campsite will be allowed unless the immediate family contains more than six. Communal picnic tables and grills are open at your own risk.”
Lyon said the DNR will be keeping an eye on the campgrounds to see how things go. “It is our hope that we can revisit these restrictions as things evolve. We have been and will continue to be thoughtful when phasing in more park amenities in accordance with the Iowa Department of Public Health and CDC guidelines to protect both our guests and our hardworking staff,” Lyon said. The campgrounds had opened on a limited basis on May 15th.
The DNR says 75% of campground sites can be reserved. You can go to www.iowadnr.gov to find out about the availability of campsites or to make a reservation.