Governor opens state’s campgrounds effective Friday

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Gov. Kim Reynolds issued a proclamation Wednesday opening Iowa campgrounds effective Friday, May 8.

In response, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced it will open state campgrounds at 8 a.m. Friday only to campers with self-contained restrooms. A self-contained restroom is defined as a tent or pop-up camper with a portable toilet or an RV with a functioning, self-contained bathroom.

Walk-in campers may begin registering at 8 a.m.  From Friday, May 8 to Sunday, May 10, only walk-in campers will be admitted on a first come, first served basis. Reservations will go into effect Monday, May 11.

The DNR’s campground reservation system will begin accepting reservations starting Friday, May 8 at 9 a.m.

All other reservations will continue as reserved beginning May 15, unless campers are otherwise notified directly by the DNR. The DNR said it apologies to people who had reservations scheduled between May 8 and May 14. Those reservations will not be honored because refunds have already been issued, and the transactions are complete.

State parks have seen a great influx of visitors during the period of virus restrictions, and a similar influx is expected at campgrounds, the DNR said. Parks staff members will closely monitor these areas to avoid gatherings of groups larger than 10. The presence of DNR staff throughout the parks and campgrounds is intended to remind visitors to continue physical distancing while enjoying some of Iowa’s most beautiful public places.

  • Campers should also abide by the following guidelines:
  • Visitors will not be allowed in the campgrounds, only those occupying the campsites
  • Campfires at the individual campsites will be limited to campers occupying that campsite
  • Six occupants per campsite, unless immediate family contains more than six
  • Some pit latrines are now open in busier day use areas
  • All modern restrooms and shower buildings, including water fountains, remain closed
  • Communal picnic tables and grills are open for use at your own risk
  • Playgrounds, day-use rental lodges and shelter houses will remain closed
  • Cabins, yurts and shelter houses will remain closed
  • Visitors centers, nature centers and museums within state parks will remain closed
  • Beaches remain open but will be monitored closely
  • Some campgrounds may be closed due to construction or maintenance issues, so please check the specific closure information below for each park before planning a camping trip.

For the latest closure information for state parks, campgrounds and trails, visit the DNR website.

The DNR highly recommends that everyone practice social distancing so that the state’s parks and campgrounds remain open as a viable option for recreational opportunity. Campers should assume personal responsibility and abide by the guidelines set forth.

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