Iowa State Parks are gearing up for the Fourth of July weekend and are ready to welcome thousands of campers, cabin renters, picnickers and outdoor enthusiasts. The weather forecast for most of the state and weekend is favoring plenty of outdoor activity. Todd Coffelt, DNR State Parks Bureau chief, says “State Parks are great destinations for these major summer holidays. Whether you are staying for a week or making a day trip, they provide great opportunities for families and friends to gather and make memories.”
Reservable campsites have been filled for three months. Last minute campers can take their chances with walk-in campsites, as 25-50 percent of all state park campsites are first-come, first-served. Most of these sites are non-electric and realistically most will be occupied by Thursday. Best chances to secure a site will be at smaller, more remote parks. Visit www.iowadnr.gov/parks for a list of parks and their amenities.
Despite recent wet weather in some areas, nearly all state parks are in good shape and getting ready for the big weekend. Here are a few reminders for those planning a trip to specific state parks this weekend.
· Only one state park campground is closed due to recent weather (as of June 30th). Walnut Woods State Park, southwest of the Des Moines metro area, is still cleaning up from Raccoon River flooding. The park is expected to reopen late next week.
· Canyon Drive at Ledges State Park has reopened to vehicle traffic, but visitors are cautioned that any rain event in the area will likely close it again. Potential visitors wanting to drive into that area of the park are encouraged to call the park office at 515-432-1852 for closure information. The campground, trails, other roads, parking lots and both open shelters remain accessible by vehicle.
Visitors to Lake Macbride State Park in Johnson County and Pleasant Creek State Recreation Area in Linn County are reminded that those beaches will close at 6 PM each day. Due to high use and limited parking at the beach area at Lake Macbride, visitors should expect a beach closure on weekends and holidays. Access to the beach may be closed for up to 2 hours. During these times, people in vehicles will be stopped at the park entrance and asked to return to the beach at a later time or asked to visit one of the other beaches in Johnson County such as Sandy Beach, Sugar Bottom, West Overlook or Kent Park.
Equestrian trails are currently closed due to wet conditions at Brushy Creek State Recreation Area (except for the 12-mile Wet Weather Trail), Elk Rock and Waubonsie state parks and Shimek Forest (except the 3-mile Wet Weather Trail) and Stephens Forest. However, if dry weather conditions continue, equestrians are encouraged to call individual areas for re-openings.
Closure information is posted on the DNR website at www.iowadnr.gov/parks and the parks reservation site at http://iowastateparks.reserveamerica.com. Current information is also available by calling individual park offices directly.