Purchase photos

Wind dampens great camping

5/31/2013

SCOTT STATE LAKE -- Except for the wind, it was a perfect Memorial Day Weekend for camping.

Still, utility sites at area lakes were full and many of the primitive sites -- after sitting empty early on -- started filling up.

"We had a great run," said Troy Brown, regional parks supervisor for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.

The primitive sites, however, took a little longer to start filling up.

That's because the wind prompted some campers to delay coming out to state parks until Saturday and Sunday, and many campers are moving beyond tents to more sophisticated pieces of equipment.

"We don't see as many tents as we used to see 10 to 15 years ago," Brown said. "Once they get a taste of plugging into utilities, having the amenities of home, they like it."

That's a situation being seen around the country, people upgrading from tents to pop-up campers.

Part of the reason for the change is people are tired of fighting the wind.

"If you're going to camp in a tent and the winds get to blowing like that," Brown said of conditions over the weekend, "you're not going to be excited because all you're going to do is fight the wind."

Still, primitive camping sites at many of the state parks in the area were busy.

At Scott State Lake, he said, primitive camping sites were 95 percent full, a virtual mecca of tents tucked along the lake's shore. Some of the tents had self-contained generators running to power equipment on had.

Scott Lake's utility sites were full as well, and the beach -- despite relatively cool water temperatures -- were busy.

The state's shift to an online reservation system for many of its utility sites also changed the face of camping.

"Before, we had people who would get out there really early and scramble to get a site," he said.

Now, campers can go online and reserve as site in December for the upcoming Memorial Day Weekend.

For the most part, there were few problems, although rangers at Prairie Dog State Park at Sebelius Reservoir had to deal with an issue of underage drinking.

Brown said when rangers pulled up, at least one person took off running. He was ultimately taken into custody and arrested.

There were a few issues with quieting campers late at night, but few other law enforcement issues, Brown said.

"Overall, it was a good weekend for the parks," he said.