WATERLOO, Iowa (KWWL) - Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kick-off to summer for campers. Hundreds flooded the campgrounds of George Wyth State Park to celebrate the holiday.
"I was a tent camper and then my girlfriend and her family got me into the RV life,” Dile resident Joseph Walker said, “It’s like cribs on wheels.”
For many campers, going out into nature for a period of time is the vacation of choice. A home away from home, especially after more than a year stuck inside due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We decided to get a camper last year for the pandemic so we can get out and spend time with the family instead of sitting at home,” Walker said.
RV sales skyrocketed last year, and continue to increase as more and more people are choosing camping over other vacation destinations.
This Memorial Day weekend, the campgrounds were completely filled at George Wyth.
“We have 69 sites and all of them were full this weekend and I would say on average there are probably about four per site so a couple of hundred people,” George Wyth Park Manager Lori Eberhard said.
Folks from across the state and even the country came out to enjoy the weekend of camping.
Family, friends, and even strangers got together to go hiking, fishing, and even make their way out into the lake on boats.
“Tomorrow we have work again so trying to get as much stress out,” one swimmer said.
Parents and children used the weekend to relax and enjoy the weather.
“And schools out this week so kids are anxious to get outside and not have to study anymore,” Eberhard said.
Addison Hansmeier is one of those kids who just graduated from the fifth grade. She went out kayaking with her mom on Wyth Lake.
“You get to go far away from the shore and then you get to go fast or go at your own speed,” 10-year-old Addison Hansmeier said.
Maxx Rentals started renting out their water sports equipment this past weekend.
“We got tons of kayaks, tons of double kayaks, paddle boats, paddleboards to try. sup yoga classes, LED night flow. We just want people to get out this year and have some fun,” Maxx Rentals Owner Jeremiah Schwake.
Opening weekend wasn’t as busy as Schwake had hoped because the weather kept many out of the water. Typically, Memorial Day weekend has warmer temperatures and draws hundreds to the public beach.
“It was nice being done with school and have time off of work and just enjoy the stuff that is out here,” Addison’s mother said.
Park Manager Lori Eberhard said the packed campgrounds will continue throughout the summer as long as the weather continues to be nice.
"Right now we already have all of our reservable electric sites gone next weekend, and half of our nonelectric that can be reserved are gone, so if you're camping this summer plan ahead. Don’t expect to show up on Friday and have a campsite because chances are, it's probably not going to happen because people are really planning ahead,” she said.
All state park campsites in Iowa can be reserved up to 90 days in advance. You can visit iowastateparks.reserveamerica.com or call 877-427-2757.