Northwest Iowa Campgrounds Report on 2011 Season
Families who chose northwest Iowa campgrounds as a summer destination found some of their campground neighbors were flood victims and contractors working in flooded areas.
The flood-related champing change contributed to a busy summer at the modern and primitive campgrounds of the Plymouth County Conservation Board's Hillview Recreation Area, west of Hinton, the Le Mars Daily Sentinel reported.
"We've had a lot of folks that cannot access their normal campgrounds because of the flooding," Dennis Sohl, Conservation executive director, said. "Early on, we did have displaced residents, but they found more permanent residences."
Traditionally, Hillview campers can only stay at a campsite for a maximum of 14 nights out of 21 nights.
Extended camping privileges were put in place in early June by the conservation board for residents of flood-impacted areas such as the Dakota Dunes.
Construction workers who are working in flooded areas also made Hillview their home this summer.
Sohl said he wasn't certain how those who normally camp in Missouri River area campgrounds and the contractors found out about Hillview.
"Campers usually have a pretty good network, but we did hear that the press release about liberalizing our camping regulations even made it into newspapers down in Texas," he said.
Sohl said Hillview's two cabins were booked for rental regularly during the summer season and he expects a slight increase in those numbers, too.
Campgrounds revenue reflects the busy summer season.
The conservation board budgeted for a 15% increase in camping income for the entire budget year, which ends next June.
Sohl expected the annual $22,000 campground income projection to be reached by the end of the Labor Day weekend.
Meanwhile, it's been an average year for summer camping at the Le Mars Municipal Park, according to manager Dan Peters.
Flooding along the Missouri River wasn't a major factor in campgrounds interest or use, he said.
"I had some inquiries, but the way we were set up with reservations, it wasn't feasible for them," Peters said. "They didn't care for the idea of having to leave to make room for people staying during the Plymouth County Fair or the Fourth of July holiday."
There were a few campers who stayed at the Le Mars campground because they were flooded out from their original destination, he said.
Labor Day weekend was a busy time for Peters.
"We had a lot of people from the fairgrounds where the 36th Annual National Old Time Country, Blue Grass and Folk Music Festival was being held, plus the Labor Day weekend people," Peters said.
Both the Le Mars and Hinton area campgrounds remain open until Oct. 15, weather permitting.
Peters will begin accepting reservations for the 2012 season after January 1 of next year.
"Most of them have got my phone number, and, if they don't have it they can call city hall," he said.
Sohl hopes the campers who tried the conservation board facilities will be back in 2012.
"Camping is a wonderful experience," he said. Everyone should do it — especially at Hillview."