As Memorial Day weekend approaches, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is bracing for an influx of visitors to its 87 park areas.
Camping spots that take reservations have mostly filled up, so people wanting to camp need to show up early to snag spots that are still available, said Jim Swenson, the eastern regional parks manager.
Memorial Day weekend is one of three weekends where sites fill to capacity and demand greatly exceeds supply, Swenson said.
At other times during the year, nature lovers shouldn’t find state parks and recreation areas as crowded.
“The best advice I can give is call ahead,” Swenson said.
The weekend will likely have rain showers “off and on through Saturday, Sunday and Monday” in eastern Nebraska, National Weather Service meteorologist Dave Fobert said.
There should be periods where people can enjoy the outdoors during the holiday weekend, Fobert said. Highs will be in the 70s on Saturday and Sunday and will likely jump up to around 80 on Memorial Day, he said.
Game and Parks has installed almost 250 50-amp pedestals for campers this year across the state. They were mostly used to replace smaller 20- or 30-amp pedestals, said Kirk Nelson, the western regional parks manager.
As people bring more amenities that need to be plugged in to campsites, the pedestals, which cost about $2,000 each to install, are necessary to accommodate luxury camping, Nelson said.
“If you’ve got a microwave and a TV in your RV, then you need more juice,” he said.
»Summit Reservoir State Recreation area near Tekamah added 19 new and 11 renovated sites with more electricity and paving. Some sites are also more accessible for handicapped people, Swenson said.
The lake is also a good place to fish, he said. It’s No. 50 on the 100 best bass lakes list by Bassmaster magazine.
Campers interested in roughing it with their horses can also experience improved campsites.
Horse campgrounds were added at Willow Creek State Recreation Area and Two Rivers State Recreation Area, and improvements were made at Indian Cave State Park and Branched Oak State Recreation Area, Swenson said.
The new and the improved campgrounds should get more use than people might think, Swenson said.
“There’s an interest here in the Midwest,” he said. “People who work with livestock always love to bring their horses.”
Boating at the Fremont Lakes State Recreation Area should run more smoothly.
Lake Victory’s boat ramp was extended because the end had been damaged, making it difficult to launch vessels. It opened to the public Friday.
“The water activity at Fremont is pretty heavy, so the operation of that ramp is critical,” Swenson said.
New look in the Panhandle
Parks in the Panhandle will also be getting a face-lift.
The infrastructure at Chadron State Park dodged any damage from last year’s wildfires, Nelson said. However, visitors who go to the west end of the park will see “some scenery that’s very different,” he said.
Lake Minatare State Recreation Area, about 15 miles northeast of Scottsbluff, added 50 of the 50-amp electric pedestals for campers.
Lakeside campsites are easily accessible on paved roads in the “underutilized area,” he said.
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