Permanent campers are lined up in several of the 33 campsites on the property at Outback Campground. Permanents are generally there from mid-May to October. (Photos by Emily Burds)
Owners (from left to right) Craig Arduser, Charlie Arduser with grandson Gage (3), Jenny Steuri, and Gary Steuri pose in front of the main cabin office.
By Emily Burds, Express Intern
For the past five years, Outback Canoe Rental and Campground in Monticello has been coming into its own.
“We started the canoes five years ago and this will be our third year with the campground,” explained Jenny Steuri, an owner with her husband Gary. The Steuri’s, with the partnership of family members Craig and Charlie Arduser, have built a business and an experience they are proud of.
Today, the grounds off Hardscrabble Road host 33-plus campsites, 24 of which are full hook up, two new cabins, plenty of tent space and a brand new, handicapped accessible shower house to accommodate all campers.
The Outback Campground sits on a several acre plot of land that has been in Gary and Craig’s family for years. When it came into their possession, they saw an opportunity to use their position on the Maquoketa River. Now, their fleet of 43 canoes, kayaks, and inner tubes is rented out daily to float the 8.2-mile stretch of river that starts in Hopkinton.
“It’s a bit quieter part of the river,” Jenny said, “So it’s different that way. And it still has a lot of sandbars and places to stop.”
When it comes to rivers, one can never know what to expect, as the recent flooding has proven. However, flooding isn’t a problem for Outback campers.
“We never have to pull out campers or move anyone,” Gary explained. “We don’t flood which gives us and our campers some peace of mind.”
The only damaging flooding the grounds saw came during the 2010 break of the Delhi Dam. Since then, no flooding issues have been reported, which is a plus for the Outback owners who have surrounded the campground with water. From their three and a half acre pond to the creek that runs into the river, Outback has plenty of water to go around.
The pond is fully stocked with fish and is overlooked by campsites as well as the new sand volleyball court and a swing set. New horseshoe pits and kids activity areas have been put in this year. Just down the trail is the week old “big” cabin that sleeps eight people and is equipped with a sitting area and soon, air conditioning.
With so much land to cover, Outback’s owners have created a series of golf cart trails that roam the entire grounds. These trails also include a mini “safari” where kids can look for the giraffe, monkeys, and zebra hiding in the tall grass.
Between canoes and campers, Outback’s staff is always on their toes. However, the two don’t have to intertwine.
“You don’t have to canoe to camp and you don’t have to camp to canoe,” Charlie explained. “That is a question we get a lot.” The ladies explained that campers certainly can canoe and vice versa but it is not mandatory. Campers can simply enjoy the great outdoors and long list of amenities that Outback’s staff continues to provide.
To keep all the operations running smoothly, Outback’s owners have brought the term “family-owned business” to a whole new level. “All of us have full time jobs so we can’t always be here,” Jenny explained. “So it’s great that Gary’s sisters can be here during the week to take care of everything. They are a big help. ”
Outback continues to run on hard work and family. And the crew doesn’t plan to slow down. With a possible pavilion in the works, Outback’s owners plan to continue to keep updating their grounds and expanding upon what already exists as much as they can.