State to reopen Iowa campgrounds on Friday, with restrictions

Campground located at Rapp Park north of Shenandoah.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources will open state campgrounds at 8 a.m. on Friday to campers with self-contained restrooms only. The department defined self-contained 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 am.

• Friday to Sunday: Walk-in only, first come, first served basis

• May 11: Reservations will go into effect

• The DNR’s campground reservation system will begin accepting reservations starting at 9 a.m. on Friday.

All other reservations will continue as reserved beginning May 15, unless otherwise notified directly by the DNR. The department extended an apology to those that had reservations scheduled during the May 8 to May 14 time period.

"Those reservations will not be honored because refunds have already been issued and the transactions are complete," the department said.

The department said there has been an influx of visitors to state parks and expect to see the same at campgrounds. Park staff will be closely monitoring these areas to avoid gatherings of groups larger than 10. Staff presence throughout the parks and campgrounds will remind and educate 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 highly recommends practicing physical distancing so that the parks and campgrounds remain open as a viable option for recreational opportunity. Campers should assume personal responsibility and abide by the guidelines set forth.

Iowa has 68 state parks and four state forests for visitors to enjoy with hiking trails, lake recreation and camping, to learn more visit: or

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