Many Missourians are flocking to campgrounds--including people who haven't previously considered themselves "campers." Missouri state parks report a higher number of visitors during an already crowded time of year.
Park and campground workers across the state are keeping busy this summer as COVID-19 forces people to keep a distance from each other.
David Kelly, deputy director of Missouri State Parks, says campgrounds have seen a spike in first-time visitors who want to escape to the great outdoors instead of staying cooped up at home.
“Since we’ve opened back up, our occupancy numbers, almost across the board, are much higher than average,” he told KSMU.
Missouri State Parks is now requiring reservations for campgrounds, and visitors can now reserve spots up to a year out. Park staff also put up signs reminding visitors to maintain social distancing. Kelly says for the most part, people are following directions.
“Some people are doing really good with that. Some folks, you know, still have a ways to go,” he says.
Carl Bonnell, superintendent of Table Rock State Park, says he hasn’t noticed a big increase in people visiting, but that the park has seen steady bookings.
“We’ve been filling up completely on the weekends, every weekend in June,” Bonnell says.
Bonnell said Table Rock is taking extra precautions, like cleaning bathrooms more often and pushing campers toward self check-in.