In North Dakota, the usual start of the camping season is the Memorial Day weekend, still a couple of months down the road. But then nothing about this year, at least weather-wise, has been usual.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has announced the Downstream Campground will open for the season May 4 and East Totten and Wolf Creek camping areas will open a couple of days earlier, on May 1.

The wing walls at the Tailrace are now open for fishing. The West Tailrace access road will undergo some repairs later this year and is now gravel. It is an improvement, however, over the crater-sized potholes.

With the price of gas these days, campers will most likely be sticking closer to home. It has been a trend in recent years that when gas prices get close to the $4-a-gallon mark, campers tend to stick closer to home, go less often and stay longer.

Another trend is a lot of campers take advantage of the seasonal sites at some of the campgrounds that are maintained by local park districts.

The bottom line for camping enthusiasts is planning will be important, so it will be a good idea to take advantage of reservation systems.

State parks offer reservations by phone or online. The toll-free number is 800-807-4723 or visit the state parks website at www.parkrec.nd.gov.

Many other camping areas are first-come, first-served, so that makes the planning process more important.
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