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Campers eager to enjoy South Dakota parks

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 13, 2014 at 10:39 am •  Published: May 13, 2014

GARRETSON, S.D. (AP) — After a brutal winter in this northern climate, Alan and Patricia Zwart were more than ready for early-season camping. But spring has not been particularly kind, forcing them to hold off until May.

"We usually try to get out in April, but the weather was just too cool," Alan Zwart said, as the couple enjoyed a recent sunny day at Palisades State Park near South Dakota-Minnesota border. "This is our first camping trip of the year."

The nasty cold spells and blizzards of this past winter have made people more eager than usual to go camping, said Doug Hofer, director of South Dakota's Division of Parks and Recreation.

"Camping reservations are up this year. Campers are beginning to show up in parks around the state, and it's clear everyone is tired of winter and ready to enjoy time outdoors with family and friends," Hofer said. "Our state parks are truly beginning to blossom, both in terms of use and the annual green-up from a long winter."

In addition to being home to some of the national park system's most famous destinations, including Mount Rushmore and Badlands National Park, South Dakota has 56 state parks and recreation areas, ranging from historic parks like Fort Sisseton to Custer State Park, known for excellent wildlife viewing. Many of South Dakota's state parks, like Oakwood Lakes and Lake Louise, offer various types of water recreation in addition to camping and other activities.

Arriving recently in a rented motor home, Helen and Adrean Vandoremalen of Helvoirt, in the Netherlands, were sightseeing on a trip from Chicago to Denver. It's the second time the couple have visited the United States, by way of its many campgrounds.

Traveling via motor home allows them to stop wherever they wish and get a better view of places that are off the beaten path, Helen Vandoremalen said.

"We have no obligation to be anywhere. We can just go where we want," she explained.

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