CEDAR RAPIDS (AP) — Campers looking to overnight in Iowa’s state parks this year will pay more do so.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has raised camping fees at the state’s parks this year for the first time in more than 20 years, The Gazette of Cedar Rapids reported.
The move comes after the state Legislature passed a measure in 2018 allowing the department to set its own fees. Under the agency’s new four-tier pricing structure, out-of-the-way parks that get fewer visitors won’t see a rate increase. But larger parks that draw more visitors see nightly fee increases from 25% to 55%. For example, at Lake Macbride State Park near Solon, fees for a site with electric, water and sewer service went from $19 a night to $26 per night.
“The more amenities people have, the fee will reflect that,” Todd Coffelt, chief of the State Parks, Forests and Preserves bureau, said.
The extra money raised by the increases will go toward renovations of state parks, upkeep, staffing and promotions of lesser-visited parks, Coffelt said.
The fee increases follow the state park system’s windfall from last year, when COVID-19 led many to look for nearby outdoor vacations. The Iowa DNR brought in nearly $2.3 million in camping fees between July 1 through October 30, 2020 — a 33% increase over the same period in 2019.