Ozark Campgrounds Busy But Openings Exist
Today is officially the first day of summer, and — while campsites in northern Arkansas's Twin Lakes Area are filling up — savvy campers can still find openings, the Baxter Bulletin, Mountain Home, Ark., reported.
Although campers often reserve space a year in advance, many campsite owners say there's still summer availability, even during upcoming holidays.
At Denton Ferry RV Park on the banks of the White River, some campsites are available, even during the July 4 holiday.
"There's some openings," said Mike Ernst, brother of owner Bill Ernst, who estimated the number of reservations are fairly typical for the summer.
The RV park, which has 44 campsites with full hookups, was not affected by last month's flooding in the Cotter area, he said.
Heart O' The Ozarks Campground in the Flippin area also has openings for its 26 campsites this summer, said owner Mike Cook.
Others say the openings may be attributable to higher gas prices, economy and reports of flooding.
"Our campground is unusually quiet," said John Olwell, owner of White Buffalo Resort near the confluence of the White and Buffalo rivers. "We're booked the Fourth of July, but normal summer traffic is down."
While private campgrounds report openings, campsites run by state and federal agencies say they're pretty well booked for the season.
The Bull Shoals-White River State Park is nearly booked through most of July, park officials say. The park still has some availability and is taking reservations.
Often, campers will book their next trip a year in advance, says Bull Shoals-White River State Park Interpreter Julie Lovett.
"We're the busiest camping park out of 52 state parks in Arkansas," Lovett said. The park picks up in April and slows down in August, but becomes busy again in October, she said.
The park has 105 campsites, with 85 sites offering water and electric, Lovett said. The park also offers three rental RVs, 20 tent sites and two rental tents, she said.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also report solid bookings for the summer.
"We are open for business, but unfortunately we do not have full facilities like we had before the flood," said Mark Case, chief park ranger of Norfork and Bull Shoals lakes with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Mountain Home Project Office.
Because the Corps lost about 50% of its campsites due to high water, it adjusted its reservable campgrounds to include Quarry Park and Gamaliel Park campgrounds on the Norfork Lake and Pontiac Park and Lakeview Park on Bull Shoals Lake.
"It's tough to find an open weekend," he said.
Corps campgrounds that were previously reservable now are open on a first-come, first-served basis, Case said. The best way to snag one of those campsites is to arrive in the early part of the week, he said.
"By Wednesday evening, they start filling up," he said. "Campers are very resourceful. They come early and get prime sites."
As summer progresses and the lakes get busier, Case reminds lake users to practice water safety and watch for debris in the water.
"We're starting to get a lot of boats," Case said. "On Saturday, Norfork Lake was a very busy place."