COVID-19 Community Updates

DNR announces policies and procedures for campgrounds reopening in Iowa

DNR announces policies and procedures for campgrounds reopening in Iowa


by: Britni Moses

Posted: May 6, 2020 / 08:40 PM CDT / Updated: May 6, 2020 / 08:42 PM CDT

In response to a new proclamation issued today by Governor Reynolds to reopen campgrounds in the state of Iowa effective Friday, May 8, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources announced policies and procedures correlating with social distancing practices amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

According to a press release from the Iowa DNR, campgrounds will open at 8 a.m. on Friday to campers with “self-contained” restrooms only. “Self-contained” is defined by the Iowa DNR 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 a.m. The Iowa DNR says only walk-in campers are allowed on a first-come, first-served basis from Friday, May 8 through Sunday, May 10.

On Monday, May 11, reservations will go into effect.

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

Beginning Friday, May 15 — unless otherwise notified directly by the Iowa DNR — all other reservations will continue. The Iowa DNR apologizes to those with reservations scheduled from Friday through Thursday, May 14. They say those dates will not be honored because “refunds have already been issued, and the transactions are complete.”

According to the Iowa DNR, state parks have seen a “great influx of visitors at our parks,” and they expect to see the same at campgrounds. Keeping this in mind, the Iowa DNR says “parks staff will be closely monitoring these areas to avoid gatherings of groups larger than 10.”

They add how the presence of staff throughout the parks and campgrounds will “remind and educate visitors to continue physical distancing while enjoying some of Iowa’s most beautiful public places.”

The Iowa DNR asks campers to 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, will 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

The Iowa DNR says some campgrounds may be closed due to construction or maintenance issues and encourages those interested in visiting to check the specific closure information for each park before planning a camping trip.

The practice of physical distancing is highly recommended by the Iowa DNR “so that the parks and campgrounds remain open as a viable option for recreational opportunity,” and they advise campers to “assume personal responsibility and abide by the guidelines set forth.”

More information about the 68 parks and four state forests within the state of Iowa is available here and here.