Missouri campgrounds beginning to reopen
COLUMBIA - Those who are sick of constantly being indoors are now in luck after Missouri State Parks announced it will begin a "phased" reopening of campsites.
"We thought that it was the right time, looking at what other states are doing around us," Mike Sutherland, Director of Missouri State Parks, said.
Much like everything else these days, the reopening will come with some guidelines. Campers will have to follow these rules:
- Reservations will be required prior to arrival.
- Campground occupancy will be limited at some parks and sites.
- Missouri State Parks will increase the frequency of cleaning shower houses and restrooms.
- Campers will use a new contactless, self-check-in feature.
- There will be occupancy restrictions in shower houses and restrooms.
- Missouri State Parks will only accept credit and debit cards.
Reservations for the week of May 18 are already full, but starting on the 18th, campers can start reserving spots for May 26 and beyond.
"The feedback that we've gotten from a lot of our guests is that they are ready for our campgrounds to be open," Sutherland said. "I think that once folks can start making reservations, I think we are going to see a lot of folks making reservations, getting outside."
In addition to the campsites opening, visitors will have access to public restrooms and shower houses during their stay.
"We are in the hospitality business, you know, we have our campgrounds open and we have our normal operations, but we have increased our cleaning processes and cleaning procedures a little bit," Sutherland said. "We'll be diligent in keeping everything safe."
But keeping the parks and campgrounds safe is a two-way street, he said.
"The more the public can help us in keeping everything clean, cleaning up after themselves, staying in smaller groups, not congregating in large groups, if a trial is busy go to a different trail," Sutherland said. "The more our visitors can do that, that makes it easier for all of us."
With higher visitation rates at all the state parks, Sutherland stressed the importance of continuing to social distance.
"Even outdoors, when people are all getting together in one spot, you have challenges with social distancing and being respectful to each other," he said.
Sometimes, however, social distancing can lead you to an experience you never imagined.
"We have over 1,100 miles of trails throughout the state," he said. "If you go to a spot and it looks kind of crowded, there are a lot of people on a trial, probably not very far from you is another trail that doesn't have as many people. There are some beautiful experiences and maybe chances to find some places that you've never been."