As the weather gets nicer and people are looking for ways to safely get out of the house with their immediate family, camping season may come early this year. Several campgrounds around the state are open for business, with some changes to keep families safe.
“This part of the year is generally a slower time in the camping industry, it’s usually just a lot of snowbirds that spend their time in the south are now trying to get back north. A lot of one night stay overs so it’s pretty easy to social distance right now,” Ray Aljets with Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Campground said.
Campgrounds around Sioux Falls are seeing pretty typical April numbers of campers right now, but they’re still making changes to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“We’re not letting people in our store and doing curbside check-in,” Alan Spencer with KOA Sioux Falls said.
Some of the people checking into campgrounds right now are there because of COVID-19.
“We have one gentleman that’s here on quarantine because his wife has underlying health issues so he’s on a 14 day quarantine to make sure he doesn’t have the virus,” Aljets said. “Then we had a customer call in today, looking for a long time stay that’s a traveling nurse coming to town.”
But as warmer weather approaches, these campgrounds do expect to see more families.
“Camping is going to be a great option for people that want to social distance just because they can stay in their own space, they can clean their own space,” Spencer said.
“There’s going to be some pent up desire for recreating and camping is a great way to do that,” Aljets said.
While these campgrounds plan to stay open to any campers and RVs this Spring and Summer, they know some of their amenities like the swimming pool, the playground and maybe even the bathrooms might not be able to open.
“Depending on where we are in peak season in June, we’ll look at some changes to our activity schedule and our amenity program to try to maintain our distance if it’s required at that time,” Aljets said.
Aljets says his park may also consider running at half capacity to help further space out campers in the park, depending on demand and how long the social distancing guidelines remain in place in South Dakota.
“We’re always worried we can’t have some of the amenities that our customers expect, we’re hopeful people will still want to get out of their house and spend time with their loved ones in their own space, in their own camper and still get to enjoy the outdoors,” Spencer said.
Both Sioux Falls campgrounds and all of South Dakota’s State Park campgrounds are accepting reservations right now. They say they are dealing with some cancellations from campers currently in areas under lock-down orders. They say they’ll remain open unless South Dakota officials order otherwise.