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Call of the Fall Sends Campers to Iowa State Parks

DES MOINES - Labor Day weekend marks the end of the camping season for some, but is the beginning of the camping season for many Iowa campers. Many Iowa state parks have lower, off-season rates which is just one benefit to late summer, early fall camping.

"Many people consider fall camping better than during the summer because of the smaller crowds, fewer insects and the trees are turning to their fall colors," said Jim Lawson, supervisor with the DNR for state parks in south central Iowa. "Some of the concession operators in our parks will have different hours of operation, so I would recommend people calling ahead if they are interested in any boat or other rental information."

Another benefit to fall camping is that, as the water cools from summer's heat, fishing improves.

"Fall can be some of the best fishing we have," said Greg Van Fosson, supervisor with the DNR for central Iowa state parks. "I look forward to fall fishing almost as much as fishing in the spring."

The off-season camping rates are in effect for most state parks although the more heavily used parks, including Elk Rock, Ledges, the Gull Point complex, Pike's Peak and Backbone will continue with the peak season rates through Oct. 31. A complete list of parks and rates is available at

Lawson said the Explore Iowa Parks camping contest is still underway and has two months remaining before the entries are due.

"The Explore Iowa Parks camping contest continues through October 31, so campers still have time if they want to participate," Lawson said.

Campers must keep their camping registration originals and mail them to DNR by Oct. 31. Campers who mail in registrations for five of the participating parks get a free subscription to the Iowa Conservationist, the colorful magazine published bi-monthly by DNR. Those who camp at seven parks get the subscription and a special parks T-shirt. Campers who stay at 10 different parks get those two prizes, plus a chance in a drawing for one year of free camping in Iowa State Parks, Recreation Areas and Forests; a Trek mountain bike or a $100 gift certificate from Cabela's.

The mountain bike, valued at $240, was donated by Bike World located in Des Moines, West Des Moines and Ames. The $100 gift certificate was donated by Cabela's in Prairie du Chien, Wisc.

The Explore Iowa Parks program is open to residents and nonresidents. For more information contact the DNR at 515/242-6233 or go to




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