Labor Day Around America's Campgrounds
Following is a roundup of Labor Day activities in campgrounds across the U.S.
A long holiday weekend brings a strong number of people to campgrounds across KELOLAND. For many, there's nothing else they could imagine doing.
"Labor Day weekend has been a tradition for my family for probably the last 21 years," Craig Vanderzee said.
Venderzee says he remembers camping at this Yogi Bear Campground when many of the trees were shorter than the people.
“The kids have plenty of stuff to do and the adults sit around the campfire and talk," Venderzee said.
While this long holiday weekend is just wrapping up, many of the campers here say, believe it or not, they're already booking their spots for the summer of 2014.
And for those who were here this weekend, the weekend storm didn't dampen their spirits.
"We weathered. We held underneath the awnings. We stayed out for most of it. We had a couple of canopies up and just held tight. We've been through worse," Vanderzee said.
And while Labor Day marks an unofficial end of summer, others will extend their camping season as long as they can.
"We're going to work around my youngest daughter's basketball schedule and see what happens. I think we've got one more in us yet," Vanderzee said.
Camping continues at the Yogi Bear Campground well beyond Labor Day. Their corn maze will also open this month.
May's downpours had some Sullivan County people fretting that the summer tourist season might turn into a soggy nightmare, recalled Roberta Byron-Lockwood, president of the county's Visitors Association, the Herald-Record, Middletown, reported.
But no, summer's sun did indeed shine on businesses like Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park in Woodridge.
"This has been a busy season, a bit better than last year," said Michael Zalkin, owner of Jellystone Park. "The weather has been very cooperative throughout the season and especially in late August, our busiest time. No tropical storms this year, so far!"
And tourists aren't packing up yet. Labor Day Weekend's a busy one throughout the region, and autumn traditionally brings the most tourists to Orange County.
Campers on the last weekend of the summer season were concerned about air quality, but made trips to the Sierra Nevada Mountains despite it.
The massive American Fire near Foresthill burned for several weeks and left smoke and haze throughout the Tahoe National Forest. But many campgrounds miles from the fire were unaffected, Fox 40 News, Sacramento, reported.
Ken McCormick made reservations at the White Cloud Campground outside Nevada City, 30 miles west of Lake Tahoe. He noticed the smoke while driving through Auburn.
“Driving up here is when I first noticed it. It was pretty thick and pretty smoky,” said McCormick.
But he was happy that it was clear at White Cloud.
A lot of people called about camping conditions, according to Sarah Hill, spokesperson for the Tahoe National Forest.
“The camp host here said it’s been clear for the past five days,” said Hill.
A bigger concern is the high fire danger. There are fire restrictions for backpackers who can only use a portable camp stove, and then only with a permit.
“If folks are going to be at a developed campsite like this, where there are built-in fire rings and pits built for fire, then fires are still OK,” said Hill.
It can still be smoky near the Foresthill area where the American Fire is now fully contained. All nearby campgrounds are open, but Forest Service officials say to watch out for fire equipment that is still using the roads.
A steady stream of campers arrived at White Cloud campground throughout the day. Many feel the same as Lisa McCormick.
“Everything we saw said it was OK to come up here. It’s a good time to come up here and enjoy,” said McCormick.
The nice weather had folks flocking to Minnesota state parks over the holiday weekend.
Myre-Big Island State Park, located just outside Albert Lea, saw many of their sites filled over the holiday weekend.
Despite the hot start to the Labor Day weekend, park leaders tell us folks were still out enjoying Mother Nature and the great outdoors.
“Good weekend,” Myre-Big Island Jerry Katzenmeyer said. “Good Camping weekend. It started out warm, but ended up nice and cool. We did have a good number of campers in and the ones here had a good time.”
He adds watercraft rentals were big over the weekend.
Several folks hit the water with kayaks and canoes to beat the heat and stay cool.
Click here to watch a video, courtesy of KIMP-TV, Mason City, Iowa.
Big crowds and good fun were reported at campgrounds across Nebraska over the Labor Day weekend, the Omaha World-Herald reported.
Three of four campgrounds at the Lake McConaughy State Recreation Area near Ogallala were filled to the brim, Park Superintendent Colby Johnson said Sunday. The only thing Johnson said he could wish for was a little cooler weather; temperatures soared to nearly 100 degrees the past couple of days before milder weather Sunday.
“The forecast is for temperatures closer to 90 than 100 today, so that will help,” Johnson said. “Otherwise, everyone is having an excellent time and there are no major issues.
“People are friendly and courteous and enjoying lots of water sports.”
Johnson said the recreation area is poised to exceed a million visitors for 2013 but probably will not break last year's record attendance of 1.15 million.
“We had 764,000 visitors through July, so just average figures for August should get us right at a million,” he said. “But the record is probably safe.”
At Niobrara State Park in the northeast part of the state, Superintendent Mark Rettig said he had only one of 96 campsites available Sunday morning. The park's 20 cabins were full.
“It's been a terrific weekend,” Rettig said. “People are taking advantage of all our recreational activities, including hiking, fishing, trail rides, the swimming pool and our Buffalo Cookout.”
The report was much the same at Louisville State Recreation Area near Omaha, where Superintendent Pat Bogenreif reported that all 237 camping pads with electrical service were full. People were taking advantage of the low levels on the nearby Platte River for tubing, he said.
“We want to remind people that Louisville has an excellent fall season ahead, with the park open for camping through October,” Bogenreif said. “Some of the best, most laid-back camping is available every fall.”
Attendance numbers at Nebraska state parks fell slightly this year compared with last summer, but still were robust.
Even with below-average temperatures in June and a shorter camping season, attendance remains high at the parks, said Jim Fuller, an assistant division manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. “We've been full all the time these last couple of months,” he said.
This summer's camping season began in April — a month later than last year's March start, but consistent with past years, Fuller said. Camping continued until November last year.
Attendance this year at Mahoney State Park near Ashland is at about 550,000, which is slightly lower than last summer's total, according to Superintendent Brian Schmidt. “Everything we do here is weather-related. When the weather warmed up, our crowds got larger,” he said.
The park enlarged about 10 cabins for this camping season. “Our new cabins have been a great feature for us this summer,” Schmidt said. “They are very appealing to the eye and add room enough for two additional people to stay. We wanted to make it as family-oriented as possible.”
Branched Oak State Recreation Area near Raymond will have at least as many visitors as last summer, Superintendent Tom Morrison said.
For all but one weekend in August, the park's 400-plus campsites have been sold out, resulting in an attendance already at last summer's total of about 750,000 people, he said.