Camping sites open around Monticello

Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     After Gov. Kim Reynolds announced that campgrounds across Iowa could open for the season, many have been preparing to welcome visitors.

     Camping at Central Park opened on May 14, but for self-contained wheeled camping units only. These include an RV, a camping trailer, or a pop-up camper with a functioning bathroom.

     Per state guidelines, Central Park is limiting the number of people per campsite to 10 or less. No visitors are allowed. Campfires are also limited to those who occupy the campsite.

     The list of amenities that are still closed include:

     • Restrooms and showers

     • Playgrounds

     • Cabins and shelters

     • Watercraft rentals

     • Nature Center

     • Beach

     • Naturalist activities

     County Conservation offices are open by appointment only.

     All county parks and wildlife areas are open.

     Conservation asks everyone to follow state and local health department recommendations when it comes to social distancing and social gatherings.

     To keep up to date on camping restrictions at Central Park, visit their Facebook page “Jones County Conservation.”

     Blue Inn Campground in Monticello didn’t open until May 8, a slight delay in their regular camping season. Owner Kim Johnson said they typically open in late April/early May, depending on the weather.

     Right now, Johnson said there really aren’t any restrictions for campers. The public restrooms are open.

     Since campgrounds could open for business, Blue Inn has had people call to make reservations.

     “By no means are we at full capacity,” Johnson shared.

     With 37 full hookup sites, Blue Inn was expected to see a busy season with several events such as Iowa’s Ride, the Great Jones County Fair, and the WMT Tractorcade coming to Monticello. Now that these events are either cancelled or postponed, Johnson said her business has taken a hit.

     The camping business at Blue Inn also takes advantage of local canoe rental businesses. Johnson said if those operations are still closed, whether due to COVID-19 or the weather, it impacts camping, too.

     “No one is making reservations early because they don’t know what’s going on,” she said.

     Visit “Blue Inn/The Edge” for more details.

     Outback Campground in Monticello allowed their seasonal campers to set up a few weeks ago, but didn’t officially open to the public until May 15.

     They have eight remaining RV sites, but are restricting services to self-contained campers only, those with their own restroom facilities. Outback’s public restrooms and playgrounds are off limits for the time being.

     “Everyone has been good about practicing social distancing,” remarked co-owner Charlie Arduser.

     Outback is also asking that no visitors enter the campsites, only those who are registered guests, to help limit the spread of COVID-19.

     While the virus delayed their opening by a couple of weeks, Arduser said their seasonal guests were ecstatic to return.

     “This gives them a chance to get out of their regular house,” she said.

     Arduser remarked that as soon as the state allowed campgrounds to open, people just seemed to have a better attitude about things.

     For more on Outback, visit their Facebook page “Outback Canoe and Camping.”


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