COUNTY CAMPGROUNDS: Open Despite Shutdown

The federal shutdown has closed many of the popular campgrounds across the state, but there are still places to camp.

Several county-run sites are still open in Iowa, but are having trouble getting the word out to campers.

Paul and Shirley hope love to camp.

“It’s beautiful, campfire evenings, it`s just beautiful. The bugs are pretty much gone and the weather is cooler and just nice,” says Shirley Hope of Ottumwa.

The couple travels all over the country in their RV.

However, they ran into some road blocks when choosing a place to stay.

“We were coming to Cherry Glen, we usually always go to Cherry Glen, and we knew the shutdown was coming so we were afraid it would be closed and we called and they said yes,” says Hope.

Federally managed campgrounds, like the ones run by the Army Corps of Engineers, are closed.

However, the Hope’s did some research and found county run campgrounds like Yellow Banks Park in Pleasant Hill are open.

“We came here and we love here we will probably be here from now on because it`s a little bit closer to Ottumwa and it`s beautiful here,” says Hope.

Park Ranger Charlie Finch said they’ve been running into some problems getting the word out.

“As soon as the Government shutdown happened we started to get a lot of phone calls,” says Finch.

Yellow Banks stays open until December 1st and will keep the water on as long as there isn’t a big freeze.

“We will be open as long as the weather stays nice,” says Finch.

That’s why Dave Wildman and his wife also ended up here.

“For one we choose it because it`s open,” says Dave Wildman of Des Moines.

The couple had to change their plans earlier in the month because of the shutdown.

“We were scheduled to go to Prairie Flower the week they shut everything down and we were told they were closed,” says Wildman.

Ranger Finch says he’s hoping people will take a second look at county run campgrounds before the season comes to an end.

“We’re open for business and waiting for people to come in,” says Finch.

On top of Yellow Banks Park, Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt, Jester Park and Thomas Mitchell Park are also open.  For more information you can visit, Polk County Conservation’s Website.


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