350,000 people visit Newton Hills State park annually and many of those visitors come in the summer months.

This weekend you’ll have free entry to parks like Newton Hills as a part of a statewide Open House weekend. While park staff says its grounds are safe, experts have a couple of tips. 

James Dimock’s love for camping began before he could even walk. 

“Being out away from town; getting away from things,” said Dimock. 

Yet even after years of practice, the 68-year expert and his Cougar-brand camper are actively preparing for the Newton Hills campgrounds.

“I go through a checklist and I walk around the vehicle every time I get out, checking tires, checking the hitch, making sure everything is exactly as it’s supposed to be,” Dimock said. 

Once its parked, Dimock always has bottled water and watches the fire, especially with his grand kids around.

“It’s an attraction for them. If they’re running around and playing they have to be watched carefully,” said Dimock. 

The park’s district supervisor Jason Baumann said being prepared is the best advice he can give.

“It could be even make sure you wear suntan lotion so you don’t get burnt. Some very simple preventative steps can go a long way in having a good and safe time,” Baumann said. 

Dimock agrees that being prepared for the simple things …

“Bugs!” Dimock said. 

… Will help make camping a more enjoyable summertime experience.

“South Dakota has some of the greatest state parks I’ve ever seen. They’re some of the greatest state parks in the entire country,” Dimock said.