Posts Tagged ‘Iowa State Parks’

Camping kickoff weekend is May 6, 7 and 8, in Iowa state parks, and has often been the first weekend trip for many campers.

“Camping kickoff weekend is our way of saying let’s dust off the tent and camper and get back outside after a long winter and enjoy some camaraderie in a state park,” said Kevin Szcodronski, chief of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources State Parks Bureau.

Campers can reserve a site for camping kickoff weekend using the new reservation system online at Campers will need to register with the system before reserving a site. Campers who have registered with Reserve America before can sign in under their existing account.

Camping kickoff weekend happens to also be a prime time for fishing, as many fish are active, close to shore and preparing to spawn.

“Early May is really a good time to spend in the parks because the bugs are typically not out yet, fishing is good and the surrounding park is going through its spring awakening,” Szcodronski said.

In the past, the DNR had offered some incentives to campers who participated in the opening weekend, but that is no longer the case.

“Iowans care deeply about their parks and we want campers to know that we are working hard to offer them the best experience and facilities that we can, with the resources we have available,” he said.

“All season long, we will be encouraging our campers and other park users to help us to keep our expenses down by turning off lights and air conditioners when they are not needed and to pick up after themselves and only burn firewood in the fire rings,” he said.

Camping Kickoff Weekend was started in 2003, as a way to encourage Iowa residents to spend time in their state parks.

Iowans affected by flooding along the Missouri River are being offered free campsites at Iowa State Parks. Kevin Szcodronski, with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, says the offer is available to those who’ve been ordered to evacuate their homes.

“Camping in a state park for an extended period of time isn’t for everybody, but for some people, it might just suit their needs if they have the right equipment, the right frame of mind and they’re outdoors people,” Szcodronski said. “Those sites do have electricity and running hot water.”

Nearly a dozen people flooded out of their homes have spent the last month camping at Waubonsie (WAH-bon-zee) State Park in Fremont County. A campsite with electricity and water costs $16 a day. “That’s a little over $100 a week. So, that’s a pretty good savings,” Szcodronski said.

“The people staying at Waubonsie, before we put the free camping on, they were looking at $400 or so to stay there for the month.” The free camping offer is retroactive, so Szcodronski says the flood victims at Waubonsie are getting a refund for their first month. The DNR is also waiving the usual limit of 14 consecutive days of camping for flood victims.

Szcodronski says state park officials are working with local emergency management personnel to identify campers who’ve been forced from their homes. “They have provided us with a list of the streets and address ranges of the places that have officially been evacuated. When the campers show, we simply ask for their driver’s license and verify their address,” Szcodronski said. Camping spots that are not part of the D.N.R.’s reservation system are open to people evacuated from their homes on a first come, first serve basis.

Evacuees are encouraged to call the D.N.R. at 515-281-8004 to check on availability of campsites available for long-term use.


DES MOINES – Iowa’s state park campgrounds are filling quickly for the Memorial Day weekend that is nearly three months away. The window to reserve the first major camping holiday of the summer was Feb. 28. Campers seeking sites with electricity will already find slim pickings.

As Iowa campers become accustomed to the reservation system, more and more campsites are being selected before ever leaving the driveway, said Kevin Szcodronski, chief of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources State Parks Bureau.

“We are getting to the point now where if campers do not have a site reserved, they are increasingly reluctant to go. We may be looking at increasing the percentage of reservable sites versus first come sites down the road,” Szcodronski said.

Campers looking for a site can log on to the DNR’s website at and click on the green button “Online Campground Reservations” on the right column, or by going to

Iowa state park campgrounds had an increase of nearly 40,000 camper nights last year versus 2008.

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